A top executive for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told healthcare officials in Tennessee this week that the nation is in good shape to implement healthcare reform by 2014.
In a March 22 speech to the Nashville Health Care Council, Marilyn Tavenner, CMS’ principal deputy administrator and COO, highlighted several programs that provide a “bridge” to full implementation of healthcare reform in 2014.
“In the year since passage of the Affordable Care Act, we’ve had some ups and downs,” she said. “But the sky didn’t fall and government didn’t take over healthcare. And we’ve earmarked billions of dollars to help make the transition as smooth as possible.”
Tavenner cited a number of programs designed to help states, providers and employers, including:
• New legislation that provides $5 billion to help unions, state and federal government and private employers provide health insurance to employees who retire early.
• $2 billion in training funds to help address the anticipated doctor/nurse shortage, with a goal of bringing 30,000 new primary care providers into the system.
• $2.8 billion to enable states to create their own Primary Care Incentive Programs (PCIPs) or exchanges.
• Federal funding that covers most of the cost of expanded Medicaid in 2014-2019, thus keeping the state share small by design.
“We’re also excited about the strides we’ve made in preventive care,” said Tavenner. “This year, we’ve eliminated co-pays for preventive screenings – and soon there will be no co-pays for smoking cessation programs and pneumonia vaccines.”
Tavenner added that regulations for accountable care organizations will soon be available.
“CMS has worked closely with the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to reach consensus on the regulations,” she said. “We’re going to thoroughly evaluate ACOs in the next two years to see if the regulations need adjustments.”
CMS has established an office to help monitor the costs of covering the nearly 10 million Americans eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. “We foresee plenty of opportunities to work with managed care companies on cost-containment,” Tavenner said.
Tavenner said she is also pleased by the early success of the Insurance Finder section of HHS’ healthcare.gov website.
“Insurance Finder has already gotten 1.2 million hits,” she said. “It’s the most visited page on the website.”