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The Voice of David Sayen
No, the Reagan administration hasn’t come back, but things are looking up in our corner of the world. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a big ship, and it takes awhile to turn it around after a presidential transition. It is becoming clear the direction will continue to be towards value, but the path is shifting. The government needs to reduce the spend on healthcare, and reducing benefits and restricting eligibility aren’t going to fly on the Medicare side, so we have to get more bang for the buck.
In a word, it’s trouble. Let me count the ways.
Top of mind is the Medicaid overhaul. Block Granting Medicaid has been the Holy Grail on the Republican side since Reagan. And why not: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) wants to download the risk to the states. Whether it is the per capita limits required by law or the optional Hobson’s Choice of the block grant for the entire population, it means one thing. Pain. States have to balance their budgets, unlike Uncle Sam who has that bottomless checkbook.
On June 7, the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee heard and responded to testimony about Medicare Advantage (MA) and, in particular, how the program can be an instrument to advance care coordination and integration. The tenor of this hearing, combined with the recent unanimous passage of the bipartisan Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act by the Senate Finance Committee tells this reader ice isn’t just melting at the North Pole. There is a thaw in the chill that seemed to blanket parts of the healthcare industry since the election.
I’m really excited to join Gorman Health Group (GHG) after more than 30 years at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and I’m especially excited about the GHG Forum next week in Fort Worth. If you are sitting on the fence, now is a great time to jump in. Make no mistake — we are at the tipping point where public finance at the federal level is quickly becoming the dominant driver of change in the whole system. In 1966, Medicare was erected on the 30-year-old chassis that was the Blue Cross model. Now the tables are turned: Obamacare is determining the shape of new market entrants, often in a push-pull with Medicare Advantage (MA), and nowhere is that more evident than in my adopted homeland of the People’s Republic of California.