The CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) continues to launch initiatives to test ways to improve the quality of health care while controlling cost, despite an uncertain fate under the future Trump Administration and Republican-controlled Congress.

Specifically, two new CMMI Beneficiary Engagement and Incentives (BEI) Models seek to promote “shared decision making,” which

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report on trends in Medicaid managed care spending, enrollment, and oversight.  Notably, the GAO reports that over 10 years (FY 2004 through 2014), federal Medicaid managed care spending grew from $27 billion to $107 billion, representing 38% of total federal Medicaid spending in 2014.  The report also

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its latest update to its “High-Risk Series” reports, which again lists Medicare as a high-risk program, in part because of the program’s substantial size and scope, and its wide-ranging effects on beneficiaries, the health care industry, and the U.S. economy. The latest report highlights five areas of particular concern to the GAO: 

  1. Payments and provider incentives in original Medicare (specifically referencing physician feedback reports, physician self-referral policy, high-expenditure Part B drugs, end stage renal disease (ESRD) bundled payments, and low-volume payment adjustments for dialysis facilities);
  2. Medicare Advantage (MA) and other Medicare health plans (including concerns about MA plan payment adjustments and excess payments to Special Needs Plans);
  3. Program design effects on beneficiaries (addressing coordination for dual-eligible beneficiaries, dual-eligible special needs plans, and access to preventive services);
  4. Program management (including implementation of durable medical equipment competitive bidding and oversight of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracts); and
  5. Oversight of patient care and safety (including the use of clinical data registries and oversight of vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes and long-term care hospitals (LTCHs)).

The GAO makes a series of recommendations to Congress and CMS to address program risks. Specifically, GAO recommends that Congress consider directing the HHS Secretary to require providers who self-refer intensity-modulated radiation therapy services to disclose to their patients that they have a financial interest in the service. The GAO also recommends that Congress better align Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing requirements with U.S. Preventive Task Force recommendations.

Specific recommendations for CMS include:

Continue Reading GAO Highlights Medicare Program Risks and Recommends Program Integrity Actions

The OIG has released an ACA-mandated report assessing the extent to which formularies used by Medicare Part D drug plans include drugs commonly used by full-benefit dual-eligible individuals(i.e., individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and who receive full Medicaid benefits and assistance with Medicare premiums and cost-sharing). The report, which covered the 3,309

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its June 2013 Report to the Congress on Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System. The report examines a number of potential ways to reform Medicare, including the following:

  • Redesigning the Medicare benefit. MedPAC continues to discuss the concept of competitively determined plan contributions (CPC), under which

The OIG has issued an ACA-mandated report on Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and MA drug plan coverage of drugs commonly used by full-benefit dual-eligible individuals (that is, individuals eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and who receive full Medicaid benefits and Medicare premium and cost-sharing assistance). The OIG determined that for 2013, Part D/MA

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) has released its “March 2013 Report to the Congress on Medicaid and CHIP,” including both policy recommendations and data updates. The policy recommendations address implementation of ACA provisions designed to expand health insurance coverage. First, MACPAC recommends that Congress create a statutory option for states to

The GAO has issued a report examining selected consumer protection requirements for dual eligible beneficiaries — low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. The report summarizes such consumer protections for dual eligible beneficiaries (e.g., access to primary care providers, appeals processes) in the Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) and Medicare Advantage programs

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) is meeting November 15, 2012 to discuss a variety of Medicaid policy issues, including:  health care delivery system issues for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities; Medicaid primary care physician payments; Medicaid/CHIP Exchange interactions; the Medicaid/Medicare dually eligible population; and state Medicaid payment policies for Medicare cost sharing.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report entitled “Medicare Special Needs Plans: CMS Should Improve Information Available about Dual-Eligible Plans’ Performance.” The report examines the characteristics of dual-eligible beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans known as dual-eligible special needs plans (D-SNPs), which serve Medicare beneficiaries who also are eligible for Medicaid because they

MedPAC has released its 2012 Data Book on “Health Care Spending and the Medicare Program.” The publication provides information on national health care and Medicare spending, Medicare and dual-eligible beneficiary demographics, Medicare quality, and Medicare beneficiary and other payer liability. It also includes data regarding various provider types, such as data on Medicare spending, beneficiary

Congressional panels have examined a number of health policy issues recently, including:

  • ACA Hearings: The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the individual mandate in the ACA is constitutional, particularly as it relates to Congress’ taxing authority.  The House Oversight and Government Reform

On June 15, 2012, MedPAC released its June 2012 Report to the Congress on “Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System.”  Unlike most MedPAC reports that focus on provider payments, this report examines the role of beneficiaries and their impact on the Medicare program. In particular, MedPAC recommends reforms to Medicare’s benefit design/cost-sharing structure to

In July 2011, CMS announced it was allowing states to test two new financial models intended to improve care coordination and reduce costs for individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid (known as “dual eligibles” or “Medicare-Medicaid enrollees”). The models are designed to better align the financing of these two programs and integrate primary, acute,

CMS has provided updated information on certain Medicare Part D Coverage Gap Discount Program issues. Specifically, in an October 28, 2011 memo to plan sponsors and drug manufacturers, CMS discusses its policies regarding invoicing manufacturers for certain low-volume claims, Electronic Fund Transfer requirements for discount payments, and changes to the appeals timeline after an unfavorable

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) will be meeting November 3-4, 2011 to discuss a number of Medicare policy issues, including: reforming Medicare’s benefit design; Medicare Part D/beneficiaries with high drug spending; coordinating care for dual-eligible beneficiaries through the PACE program; reforming the Medicare SNF PPS; hospitals’ capacity to serve Medicare patients; payment rate differences

Recent Congressional hearings focusing on health policy issues include:

  • House Ways and Means Committee hearings on expiring Medicare provider payment provisions and the impact of health sector mergers and acquisitions on private health insurance costs;
  • A Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on “Securing the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain“;
  • A House Judiciary