House committee slams Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation's lack of savings, 'unelected' officials

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has spent almost $6.1 billion on demonstration projects without showing any tangible savings, say Republican lawmakers.

In a hearing of the House Committee on the Budget on Wednesday, Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) claimed the center's officials have spent too much money on demonstration projects that have failed to produce meaningful savings in the nearly six years the center has been in operation.

“The broad powers vested in CMMI and the agency's interpretation of that authority have the potential to further degrade Congress's lawmaking authority by shifting decision-making away from elected officials into the hands of unelected officials,” said Price.

While the Congressional Budget Office has estimated the CMMI to cover its expenses with savings by 2017, it failed to state which of the center's current projects will result in those savings, Price noted.

Price also bashed the mandatory provider participation in CMMI's models, as well as adverse effects the models could have on medical practices and seniors' access to care and medications.

The CMMI's demonstration projects include the Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Nursing Facility Residents, which has shown no significant improvement of quality, according to a testimony delivered during the hearing by Mark Hadley, deputy director of the CBO.

“It is important to remember: when we talk about new payment models, we are not just talking about a computer simulation or a science project in a lab somewhere,” Price said. “When you add in the fact that CMMI has determined that it can mandate participation in these experiments and run them indefinitely, you have a scenario where the agency has in effect enacted changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs while circumventing Congress,” Price said.