At the 2017 Forbes Healthcare Summit, I interviewed Seema Verma, Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, about her policy agenda. CMS is one of the most important agencies in the federal government, administering programs spending over a trillion dollars a year, including Obamacare.
Our discussion was wide-ranging. Verma spoke about fellow Indianan Alex Azar, President Trump’s nominee for the post of Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She discussed her view of what CMS can do on drug pricing. She talked about the opioid crisis, and how to modernize the Medicare and Medicaid programs and empower patients to take charge of their own health care.
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The CMS has finalized a proposed rule to exempt more small providers from complying with MACRA. It also reversed course on plans to give providers a pass on gauging whether they are cutting costs under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, or MIPS.
Physician practices with less than $90,000 in Medicare revenue or fewer than 200 unique Medicare patients per year would be exempted under the rule finalized Tuesday.
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has a powerful tool for improving quality and reducing costs: the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Congress created the Innovation Center in 2010 to test new approaches or “models” to pay for and deliver health care. The complexity of many of the current models might have encouraged consolidation within the health care system, leading to fewer choices for patients. The Trump administration is analyzing all Innovation Center models to determine what is working and should continue, and what isn’t and shouldn’t. Strengthening Medicare and Medicaid will require health care providers to compete for patients in a free and dynamic market, creating incentives to increase quality and reduce costs.
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Wait, I thought Obamacare was supposed to solve the problem of access to affordable health coverage—especially for older Americans! Are Democrats now saying their signature legislation has made the problem worse?
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has introduced the “Medicare at 55 Act” to allow Americans aged 55-64 to buy into the Medicare health insurance program. Seven other Democrats are original co-sponsors of the legislation.
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It’s time for a new approach to fixing our broken health care system. A responsible Congress could consider this moment as a unique opportunity to address health care costs, take advantage of amazing new technologies and improve the overall health and wellness of Americans.
Here are ten proposals that Republicans and Democrats should consider and approach with bipartisanship, ensuring both government and Americans pay less and get better health care:
1. Cut drug costs.
2. Allow veterans to use convenient hospitals.
3. Trim Medicare costs by slowly raising the age and income eligibility.
4. Allow insurance to be purchased across state lines.
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All eyes are on the Senate as it debates what to do about ObamaCare. But the House has a last chance this week to abolish one of the law’s most dangerous creations: a board with sweeping, unchecked power to ration care.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board—what critics call the death panel—would be an unelected, unaccountable body with broad powers to slash Medicare plans spending. But the law contains a living will for IPAB. If the president signs a congressional resolution extinguishing the panel by Aug. 15, it will never come into existence.
The real deadline is closer, since the House plans to recess Friday and not return until Sept. 5. But if the House does act, the Senate will have time to follow, since it plans to remain in session until mid-August.
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The struggles faced by Presidents Obama and Trump since the passage of the Affordable Care Act have created the impression that it’s impossible to successfully reform American health care. On the non-group market, premiums have soared, networks have narrowed, individuals have refused to enroll, and insurers have fled the marketplace. But despite the dysfunction of the market that was the primary focus of the ACA’s reforms, employer-provided coverage and the Medicare program have never been in better shape. Under those arrangements, which cover the majority of Americans, spending growth has abated, quality of care is improving, and premiums are rising at the slowest rate in recent memory. President Obama tried to claim credit for these trends, but they actually date to 2003, when President Bush pushed his own signature legislative achievement, the Medicare Modernization Act, through Congress.
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The Senate is advancing Seema Verma, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Senators voted 54-44 Thursday on her nomination, which needed only a simple majority to overcome the initial procedural hurdle.
The Senate could take a final vote on Verma on Friday night, but her confirmation is expected to be kicked to Monday.
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President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday morning picked the founder and CEO of a health policy consulting firm, Seema Verma, to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“I am pleased to nominate Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” said President-elect Trump in a statement. “She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems. Together, Chairman Price and Seema Verma are the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans.”
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Ever since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces opened for business in 2014, the Obama administration has worked hard to get Americans to sign up. Yet officials now are telling some older people that they might have too much insurance and should cancel their marketplace policies.
Each month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is sending emails to about 15,000 people with subsidized marketplace coverage. The message arrives a few weeks before their 65th birthday, which is when most become eligible for Medicare.