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HHS Launches Webpage Highlighting Administrative Actions to Empower Patients

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

This week the Health and Human Services Department launched a new page on HHS.gov highlighting the regulatory and administrative actions the Department is taking to relieve the burden of the current healthcare law and support a patient-centered healthcare system.

“We’re taking action to improve choices for patients, stabilize the individual and small-group insurance markets, and expand access to more affordable coverage,” said Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “This page will be the place to go for updates on our ongoing efforts.”

The actions are part of a broader plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Click here to see the newly launched webpage explaining the Department’s actions.

New measures will be announced as soon as is allowable by law. In particular, future actions will:

  • Lower costs and increase choices by providing relief from the burdensome regulations and fostering competition in insurance markets;
  • Work to ensure a stable transition period;
  • Offer states greater flexibility of their Medicaid programs to meet the needs of their most vulnerable populations; and
  • Increase the opportunities for patients to get the care they need when they need it.



Secretary Price Statement on President’s Budget Blueprint

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., released the following statement today after the release of the President’s budget blueprint.

"HHS is dedicated to fulfilling our department’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the American people. This budget supports that mission and will help ensure we are delivering critical services to our fellow citizens in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Part of that support involves a robust commitment to preventing waste, fraud and abuse across the department, particularly within the Medicare and Medicaid programs. We want to be sure that beneficiaries, who rely on these programs, receive the highest level of quality, accessibility, and choices.  It also necessitates a streamlining of activities at our agencies to ensure we are providing the highest level of service possible and not duplicating efforts. We look forward to continuing to work on broader, longer-term solutions that will further enhance our ability to positively and productively serve the American people.”




Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma Take First Joint Action: Affirm Partnership of HHS, CMS, and States to Improve Medicaid Program

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Today, Ms. Seema Verma was sworn in as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). After her swearing-in ceremony, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., and CMS Administrator Seema Verma took their first joint action, cosigning a letter to the nation’s governors affirming the Department’s intent to work with states to improve the Medicaid program and the lives of those it serves.

In the letter, Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma recognize the vital importance of the Medicaid program and the duty of government to put beneficiaries first, ensuring the highest level of quality, accessibility, and choices for Americans who rely on the program. They go on to note the current impediments that the Medicaid program faces and acknowledge the obligation to taxpayers to make sure Medicaid operates in a way that best serves the most vulnerable populations.  

Both firmly believe that states know best how to care for their citizens and in the letter, Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma write, in part:

“Today, we commit to ushering in a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership where states have more freedom to design programs that meet the spectrum of diverse needs of their Medicaid population. We wish to empower all states to advance the next wave of innovative solutions to Medicaid’s challenges—solutions that focus on improving quality, accessibility, and outcomes in the most cost-effective manner. States, as administrators of the program, are in the best position to assess the unique needs of their respective Medicaid-eligible populations and to drive reforms that result in better health outcomes.”

The letter goes on to outline some of the key areas where HHS and CMS will work to improve collaboration with states, moving towards more effective Medicaid program management. Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma conclude their letter to governors confirming this partnership, stating:

“We intend for this to be the beginning of a discussion on how we can revamp the federal and state Medicaid partnership to effectively and efficiently improve health outcomes. We look forward to partnering with you in the years ahead to deliver on our shared goals of providing high quality, sustainable, health care to those that need it most.”




Secretary Price Statement on CBO Report

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., released the following statement today on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the American Health Care Act:

“The CBO report’s coverage numbers defy logic. They project that zeroing out the individual mandate – allowing Americans to choose whether to have insurance – will result in 14 million Americans opting out of coverage in one year. For there to be the reductions in coverage they project in just the first year, they assume five million Americans on Medicaid will drop off of health insurance for which they pay very little, and another nine million will stop participating in the individual and employer markets. These types of assumptions do not translate to the real world, and they do not accurately estimate the effects of this bill.

“The CBO report also does not incorporate two-thirds of the healthcare reform plan President Trump has called for – specifically the regulatory relief HHS can provide and the additional legislative reforms Congress is and will be pursuing. Our three-pronged approach will free patients to purchase coverage that works best for them at a price they can afford. Doctors and patients understand that, especially under current law, having coverage is not the same thing as having access to the care one wants or needs. Our approach will provide Americans with relief from the collapsing healthcare law, which never delivered on the benefits projected by the Congressional Budget Office in the first place.”




American Health Care Act Will Restore, Protect, and Preserve the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., joined President Trump and Vice President Pence at the White House for a listening session on healthcare. The participants included doctors, patients, and small business owners who discussed Obamacare and how the current law is failing them.

After listening to their stories, the Secretary released the following statement in support of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), specifically its provisions to restore, protect, and preserve the doctor-patient relationship.

“The doctor-patient relationship is the most sacred part of our entire healthcare system. The personal stories we heard today are further evidence that under the current healthcare law, that relationship is being undermined. The Affordable Care Act has given Washington more power and authority over healthcare, leaving patients and providers with less freedom over medical decisions. Whenever the federal government thinks it knows better than a patient and their doctor about what they need, quality of care is compromised.

“The American Health Care Act will restore, protect and preserve the doctor-patient relationship — the trusting partnership that is fundamental to quality healthcare. Our reform effort will ensure patients and physicians are the ones making medical decisions, not Washington, and provide relief to those being harmed by the current healthcare system.”

How the American Health Care Act Protects the Doctor-Patient Relationship

  • Empowering Patients with Access to Healthcare Dollars. The American Health Care Act expands the usefulness of Health Savings Accounts, adding flexibility and increasing contribution limits so that Americans can build savings for when healthcare needs arise.
  • Expanding Patient Choice to See the Doctor of Their Choice. Every American should be able to choose the plan that fits their needs and allows them to see the doctor that they want. We will end the ‘Washington knows best’ mentality of picking winners and losers among patients. Instead, patients will have the freedom to choose the coverage that is right for them. That could be a comprehensive plan with a broad network, an HMO plan, or a catastrophic plan that allows the patient to shop around to get the best deal on routine medical expenses – it’s up to you, not Washington, DC.
  • Encouraging Innovation to Protect Patients. The AHCA’s Patient and State Stability Fund will allow states to ensure meaningful access to care for patients through a variety of innovation options to drive down costs, improve access to coverage options, and provide further financial assistance to lower premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs.
  • Providing Patients with Meaningful Access to Care. When a doctor recommends a procedure, but a patient has a $6,000 or $10,000 deductible, they may have “coverage,” but they don’t have care. They cannot afford the procedure that their doctor is recommending they have. This is a classic example of Washington inserting itself into the hospital examination room. We’re working to let market forces lower the cost of care and bring down premiums and deductibles, so that patients not only have coverage, but meaningful access to the procedures they need and that their doctor recommends.



Secretary Price Congratulates CMS Administrator Verma on Her Confirmation

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., offered his congratulations to Ms. Seema Verma upon her installment as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

“Congratulations to our new CMS Administrator, Ms. Seema Verma, and her family. Ms. Verma is a uniquely qualified choice for this position and we look forward to having her as a partner in our efforts to reform, strengthen, and modernize our nation’s healthcare system. We realize there are many challenges before us, and with Ms. Verma at the helm of CMS, we’re ready to hit the ground running to achieve real solutions for all Americans now and into the future.”




Offering states flexibility to increase market stability and affordable choices

Monday, March 13, 2017

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Department of the Treasury, suggested ways to help foster healthcare innovation by giving states greater flexibility.

“States need the flexibility to develop innovative healthcare models that will improve patient access to care, increase affordability and choices offered, lower premiums, and improve market stability,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “Today’s letter highlights State Innovation Waivers as opportunities for states to modify existing laws or create something entirely new to meet the unique needs of their communities.”

Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permits a state to apply for a State Innovation Waiver to pursue innovative strategies for providing its residents with access to high quality, affordable health insurance. The Departments are promoting these waivers to give states the opportunity to develop strategies that best suit their individual needs. Through innovative thinking, tailored to specific state circumstances, states can lower premiums for consumers, improve market stability, and increase consumer choice.

For example, Alaska has made significant improvements to its individual health insurance market by implementing a state-operated reinsurance program. Initial rate information in Alaska indicated that premiums would increase over 40 percent for the 2017 plan year. To mitigate this anticipated increase, the state created a reinsurance program prior to Open Enrollment for plan year 2017 to significantly offset the projected increase, helping to stabilize premiums. Based on this success, Alaska is now requesting a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver, which is currently under review by the Departments, to permit it to receive funding based on the savings to the government related to lower premium tax credits and continue this program for future plan years. If a state’s plan under its waiver proposal is approved, a state may be able to receive pass-through funding to help offset a portion of the costs for the high-risk pool/state-operated reinsurance and other premium stabilization programs while also lowering costs for consumers. The Departments welcome the opportunity to work with states on Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers, and in particular, invite states to pursue approval of waiver proposals that include high-risk pool/state-operated reinsurance programs.

To find further information regarding section 1332 State Innovation Waivers visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/State-Innovation-Waivers/Section_1332_State_Innovation_Waivers-.html.

To find a copy of the letter, visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/State-Innovation-Waivers/Downloads/March-13-2017-letter_508.pdf




Secretary Price Committed to Greater Medicaid Flexibility for States

Friday, March 10, 2017

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., issued the following statement today committing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to using its regulatory authority to create greater flexibility in the Medicaid program for states. The Trump Administration has announced a three-pronged approach to repealing and replacing Obamacare – which includes HHS providing essential regulatory relief.

“Our states know best how to care for their citizens – particularly their most vulnerable populations who receive healthcare coverage under Medicaid. Pursuant to the vision put forward by President Trump, the Department of Health and Human Services will be committed to doing everything within our authority to provide our nation’s governors and state legislatures with greater flexibility on how they utilize Medicaid resources in caring for those in need. This will include a review of existing waiver procedures to provide states the impetus and freedom to innovate and test new ideas to improve access to care and health outcomes. These efforts will complement the work Congress is already doing through the American Health Care Act and will do in subsequent legislation to deliver patient-centered healthcare reform.”




Secretary Price Supports House Efforts to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sends Letter to Committee Chairmen: “These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.” Washington, DC—Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. sent a letter to Rep. Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Kevin Brady, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee today supporting their efforts to take the first steps to dismantle Obamacare. Obamacare has brought the American people rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes. Americans were promised lower healthcare costs, but in reality, since Obamacare was instituted, premiums have risen by over 40 percent on average, and in some places have risen by over 100 percent. In 2015, nearly 20 million Americans found health insurance so unaffordable that they instead paid the IRS penalty or applied for a hardship exemption. Americans were promised they could keep their healthcare plans under Obamacare, but in reality, millions lost plans and doctors that they liked. Americans were promised that Obamacare would increase competition between insurance providers, but in reality, insurers have fled the failing Obamacare exchanges, leaving people in one third of American counties, and five entire states with the “choice” of only one insurer. Americans were promised that Obamacare would not raise taxes on the middle-class, but in reality, Obamacare contained hundreds of billions of taxes on the middle class. Now is the time to restore healthcare back to the people and to save our healthcare system from inevitable collapse. Now is the time for the Administration and Congress to take bold action.  In his letter Secretary Price wrote, in part: “These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.” The letter can be found below: March 7, 2017 Hon. Greg Walden Chairman Committee on Energy & Commerce 2125 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Hon. Kevin Brady Chairman Committee on Ways & Means 1102 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Chairman Walden and Chairman Brady: On behalf of the Trump Administration, I am writing in support of the reconciliation recommendations recently released for consideration by your Committees. Together, they align with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act. These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.  Your legislative proposals are consistent with the President’s commitment to repeal the Affordable Care Act; provide advanceable, refundable tax credits for Americans who do not already receive such tax benefits through health insurance offered by their employers; put Medicaid on a sustainable path and remove burdensome requirements in the program to better target resources to those most in need; empower patients and put healthcare dollars and decisions back into their hands by expanding the use of health savings accounts; ensure a stable transition away from the Affordable Care Act; and protect people with pre-existing conditions. Achieving all of the President’s goals to reform healthcare will require more than what is possible in a budget reconciliation bill, as procedural rules on this type of legislation prevent inclusion of key policies such as selling insurance across state lines, lowering drug costs for patients, providing [...]



The American Health Care Act Is Critical First Step Toward Protecting Patients

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Washington, DC—The American Health Care Act, the healthcare reconciliation legislation recently released in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a critical first step toward implementing patient-centered solutions and rescuing Americans from the failures of the status quo. As Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., has outlined, there are three phases to the repeal and reform effort, including both legislative and administrative actions.

With Congress considering reconciliation legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues its work on the next two steps: taking administrative actions that will create a healthier insurance market and alleviate the burden the current healthcare law imposed on Americans, and supporting work on legislation that will include reforms not permitted under reconciliation, such as purchase of insurance across state lines.

Ongoing Administrative Actions

To relieve the burden that the current healthcare law has placed on millions of Americans, HHS has already begun a number of key administrative actions, including:

  • Reforms to stabilize insurance markets and increase coverage choices for patients beginning as early as 2018;
  • Loosening restrictions on the financial structure of insurance plans offered on the exchanges to allow patients access to lower premium options; and
  • Improving choices for patients and putting downward pressure on prices by curbing abuses of the enrollment periods and encouraging full-year enrollment.

Future administrative actions will help provide more options for patients, give states flexibility on how they spend their Medicaid dollars, and ensure a stable transition to any law Congress passes.

Further Congressional Action

In addition to the reconciliation bill, HHS supports legislation to take action on other priorities President Trump has laid out for healthcare, including:

  • Increasing competition and choice by promoting the sale of insurance across state lines;
  • Removing even more of the current healthcare law’s regulations on insurance;
  • Reducing out-of-control drug costs; and
  • New legal reforms to cut costs for patients and doctors.

America’s healthcare system should be focused on the patient, by promoting quality, accessibility, affordability, innovation, and empowerment. Secretary Price looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that these principles become a reality for all Americans.