Federal Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Needs to Change Says Agency Head

Journalist Geraldo Rivera, CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove
Journalist Geraldo Rivera, CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove
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The head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, says the Trump administration wants to move more health insurance decisions from Washington to the state level. CMS administrator Seema Verma was one of  guest on the keynote panel kicking off the Cleveland Clinic’s annual Innovation Summit this week.

Verma and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove engaged in a wide-raging discussion which was moderated by television journalist Geraldo Rivera.

Much of the discussion focused on holding down costs for government insurance.

Nearly 50 percent of people in the U.S. are covered by either Medicare or Medicaid.  And the amount of money doctors and hospitals receive for treating those patients is dictated by CMS.

During the discussion Verma said change is needed.  There are too many regulations and states shouldn’t have to wait for permission to make routine changes, Verma said.

“We’re not gonna tell states what their priorities are – they’re gonna come and tell us what their priorities are and it’s our job to help them get there," she said.

Verma added she is looking to bring more flexibility into the decision making process. Giving states more control will also mean CMS  will also hold them accountable. She offered an example of a new scorecard being developed to measure if states are delivering results with federal dollars.

Cosgrove, who was also on the panel, warned there is a danger in this approach to setting rules and pricing structures.

“I’d love to have the flexibility coming out of Washington. I think one thing we have to be careful of is we don’t want 50 different health care programs across the country," he said.

People could start moving from one state to another for health care coverage, Cosgrove said.

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