Former CMS admins: Lawmakers should drop Medicaid reforms from health bill entirely

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Two former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrators are urging lawmakers to cut Medicaid provisions from their current Affordable Care Act replacement bill, claiming such a move would allow for more bipartisan focus on changing the individual market.

Gail Wilensky, Ph.D., and Andy Slavitt voiced their concerns over the proposed Medicaid reforms in a piece published Tuesday in JAMA Forum.

The pair recommended a 12-month bipartisan review process to alleviate “divergent views” on changes to the program, while paving the way for lawmakers to tackle individual market-related issues.

“Such a process would benefit from broad stakeholder involvement and expert feedback, gathered outside of the heat of the current political environment,” Slavitt and Wilensky wrote. “Changes to the individual market alone have a greater chance of receiving bipartisan support while substantive work on Medicaid is under way.”

The former administrators also offered up their own policy recommendations for Medicaid such as making it a more outcomes-based program, improving its financing, investing in data and coordinating programs for dual-eligibles.

“We believe these changes will allow Medicaid to continue to meet new challenges and act as a potential vehicle to expand coverage if states choose to go that direction,” the article reads. “Cost savings to Medicaid can best be achieved through substantive reform, rather than cuts that do not focus on changes to the underlying program.”