Lawmakers: CMS has no vision for Innovation Center 'beyond undermining Medicare'

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Democratic lawmakers lashed out on Wednesday against news that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is planning to take its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in a “new direction.”

“The Administration appears to have no vision beyond undermining Medicare,” said a joint statement published Wednesday by House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “Secretary [Tom] Price is soliciting comments for demonstrations that could increase costs and loosen protections for elderly Medicare patients, including allowing unlimited charges for medical services and voucherizing the program.”

Neal and Pallone said that they were already concerned with the Department of Health and Human Services' rolling back of “collaborative delivery reform efforts,” such as certain bundled payment models.

But CMS Administrator Seema Verma's Tuesday announcement on shaking up the agency's Innovation Center “is even more concerning,” the pair said.

Pallone. and Neal's statement came just as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) applauded CMS' move to “return power back to patients and ultimately ensure the Innovation Center lives up to its name.”

The center's new “guiding principles” will be rooted in stakeholder feedback, voluntary models and “actual innovation” that will “wisely move away from the ‘Washington knows best' ideology,” Brady wrote in his own statement.

Healthcare stakeholders have through Nov. 20 to submit comments on where they'd like to see the CMMI headed.