Slavitt to Trump administration: Keep the CMS Innovation Center



– Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt has some advice for his successors at the CMS: Keep the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, even if you trash the Affordable Care Act.

The innovation center is vital to the success of the Quality Payment Program, the value-based payment framework set up by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), Mr. Slavitt said Dec. 1 at the National MACRA MIPS/APM Summit.

CMS Acting Commissioner Andy Slavitt addresses the National MACRA MIPS/APM Summit, Dec. 1, 2016. Gregory Twachtman/Frontline Medical News

CMS Acting Commissioner Andy Slavitt addresses the National MACRA MIPS/APM Summit, Dec. 1, 2016.

“MACRA can’t work as well without a CMS Innovation Center that can move quickly to develop and expand new approaches to paying for care,” Mr. Slavitt said. “With changes to the Innovation Center, the advanced alternative payment approaches could slow significantly. We will have a much narrower path with fewer specialty options and approaches, which take in patient and physician feedback. Medicare and commercial payers would then fall further out of alignment, and more importantly, less patients would have access to innovative care methods.”

Mr. Slavitt offered a few other recommendations to the next regime. First, he called on the Trump administration to ensure that the 20 million people who have obtained health care coverage under the ACA do not lose it as a key to continued delivery system reform.

“Build from a foundation of progress, do not head backwards,” Mr. Slavitt advised. “There can be no delivery system reform without building on the foundation of reaching universal coverage.”

To that end, he advised keeping other key ACA provisions, including no-cost preventive care, the elimination of annual and lifetime coverage caps, and the end of pre-existing condition exclusions.

“If we want to fix how care is delivered, so that we’re providing value, then we must ensure that Americans can afford and access quality care at every point in their lives,” he said. “If we lose even some of the coverage gains made under the ACA, or leave people in limbo, people will lose access to regular care and we will drive up long-term costs.”

He also called for more improvements in the health IT space, including a demand for affordable systems and technologies that can exchange data and support quality health care.

“MACRA is an opportunity to move the focus away from paperwork and reporting and toward paying for what works,” Mr. Slavitt said. “For a variety of reasons, EHRs became an industry before they became a useful tool. The technology community must be held accountable ... to make room for new innovators and to give clinicians more freedom and more flexibility to focus on their patients, to practice medicine, and deliver better care.”

President-elect Trump has designated Seema Verma, a health care consultant who helped design the Indiana’s ACA Medicaid expansion, to be the next CMS administrator.

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