Medicaid chief announces new 'vision' for program — and policies to reduce regulatory burden

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Medicaid has a "higher purpose" than just handing out cards and financing healthcare, Verma said.
Medicaid has a "higher purpose" than just handing out cards and financing healthcare, Verma said.

The future of Medicaid will include a stronger focus on the relationship between the federal and state governments, as well fewer barriers to innovation within the program, the head of the program shared on Tuesday.

Recent growth within the Medicaid program has bumped up the amount of oversight and regulations states have had to deal with, conceded Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, speaking at the National Association of Medicaid Directors Fall Conference.

“Our vision for the future of Medicaid is to reset the federal-state relationship and restore the partnership, while at the same time modernizing the program to deliver better outcomes for the people we serve,” she said.

Verma explained the agency plans to “turn the page” for Medicaid by introducing initiatives that give states more freedom in how they run their respective programs. Among these is a revised Section 1115 demonstration website, giving an overview of possible new “evidence-based interventions” that can improve outcomes.

CMS has also released new policies to improve Section 1115 demonstrations and some waivers, including allowing states to request approval for certain demonstrations for up to 10 years; making it easier for states to “fast track” federal review; and reducing certain 1115 reporting requirements.

The agency also will consider proposals involving work requirements for able-bodied beneficiaries, and is developing scorecards for state and federal Medicaid outcomes, Verma said.

“We have a higher purpose than just handing out Medicaid cards and being a financier of healthcare,” Verma said. “We will not just accept the hollow victory of numbers covered, but will dig deeper and demand more of ourselves, and of you.”