Advocacy News

February 21, 2016



AAOS Applauds House for Introducing Legislation to Lift Hospital BanEnerg

CMS Proposes Significant Changes to Medicare Standards for Providers and Suppliers of Prosthetics and Custom-Fabricated Orthotics

CMS Nominee Questioned by Senate Finance Committee

AMA Discusses Regulatory Burden

California Orthopaedic Association Produces Two White Papers on Value-Based Reimbursement

Residents! Attend the Orthopaedic PAC Resident Networking Reception at the 2017 AAOS Annual Meeting

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CMS Issues Proposed Rule to Increase Patients’ Health Insurance Choices for 2018

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CMS Nominee Questioned by Senate Finance Committee

On February 16, 2016, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Seema Verma to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As explained by the committee, CMS is the world’s largest health insurer, covering over one-third of the U.S. population through Medicare and Medicaid alone. It has a budget of over one trillion dollars and it processes over 1.2 billion claims a year for services provided to some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

“Throughout my career, I have brought people together from all sides of the political spectrum to forge solutions that worked for everyone,” stated Verma in her opening comments. “These consensus efforts have resulted in programs that have provided healthcare coverage to over a million vulnerable Americans. One of the proudest moments of my career was watching the Indiana legislature pass the Healthy Indiana Plan with a bipartisan vote. For me, today’s hearing is not simply a matter of finding a good executive to run a large government bureaucracy. It is about bringing someone to the table who fundamentally understands that the future of our country’s health care is at stake.”

“As Congress works to change course with regard to our ailing healthcare system, CMS will play a major role in determining our success,” stated Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “I applaud the step the agency took yesterday under the leadership of HHS Secretary Price with its proposed rule to help stabilize the individual insurance markets, but there is much more work to be done and I am confident that, if you are confirmed, you will be a valuable voice in driving change.”

Ms. Verma was asked right away by Hatch about the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and Verma emphasized the importance of understanding various stakeholder perspectives and maintaining open communication. According to Verma, dialogue with stakeholders, like physicians, can tell you what is working or not. Verma promised to modernize CMS programs to leverage “innovation and technology to drive better care.” She called MACRA an “important step forward” but called for more discussions to see what’s working and not.

In response to questions, Verma also discussed small and rural providers, commenting that CMS needs to talk with rural providers before regulations are written so as not to burden them with new requirements. Additionally, she answered questions on virtual groups and nominal risk, as well as meaningful use and electronic health records (EHRs). Verma commented that implementation on these issues is has been rocky, and she specifically mentioned the importance of interoperability, but did not offer further solutions. She also stressed, when asked about the CMS Innovation Center, that it was important to experiment with innovation but that evaluation is critical and results need to be shared.

Hatch concluded the hearing by stating that he plans to hold Verma’s confirmation vote “expeditiously.” “I look forward to what I hope will be a full and fair committee process that allows us to process this nomination and report it to the full Senate in short order,” he stated.