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Price, Verma Outline Medicaid Priorities

In a March 14 letter to states, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma signaled a commitment to ushering in a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership.

The letter affirmed their desire to improve the Medicaid program and the vulnerable people it serves and to ensure the program provides value to taxpayers.

The letter criticized the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion as departing from the program’s core, historical mission and for burdening federal and state budgets. Price and Verma noted a commitment to working with states to improve care for the vulnerable.

The letter also outlined several key areas in which HHS will improve collaboration with states:

  • improving federal and state program management by making the state plan amendment approval process more transparent, efficient, and less burdensome. The department also will aim to improve the process for, and fast-track approval of, waiver and demonstration project extensions and be more consistent in evaluating waiver requests that incorporate approaches approved for other states. Further, the agencies signaled the intent to use Section 1115 waiver authority to promote approaches that increase employment and community engagement;
  • conducting a full review of managed care regulations to prioritize beneficiary outcomes and state priorities;
  • encouraging states to align their Medicaid program design and benefit structures with commercial health insurance to help nondisabled adults prepare for private coverage;
  • delaying compliance with the January 2014 Home and Community-Based Services regulation; and
  • providing states with more tools to address the opioid epidemic through state plans, the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, and waiver authority.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Michelle Rosenfeld is manager of communications at America's Essential Hospitals.

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