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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma today discussed a number of efforts underway at the agency, including many to reduce regulatory burdens on providers. 
 
“We recognize that some regulations are necessary to ensure patient safety, quality and program integrity, but many are redundant, ineffective and have a negative effect on patient care by taking providers away from their primary mission – improving their patients’ health outcomes,” Verma said. 
 
She discussed the agency’s proposal to implement the Meaningful Measures initiative, which would remove 18 measures from the inpatient quality reporting program and “de-duplicate” 21 measures, meaning that they would be used in only one program rather than multiple programs. 
 
Verma also said the agency is considering actions to provide relief from the Stark Law. 

“We intend to leave in place the law’s important protections for our beneficiaries and for the [Medicare] Trust Fund, while not penalizing providers who are taking brave steps away from fee-for-service,” she said. 
 
Last year, AHA released a report that found non-clinical regulatory requirements cost providers nearly $39 billion a year and divert clinicians from patient care. 
 
Meanwhile, Verma said the agency is continuing to “move away from a fee-for-service approach to a system that is value-based and that rewards value over volume.” 

[For additional highlights from the AHA Annual Membership meeting, click here.] 

She discussed a number of key initiatives the agency will unveil this year, including developing new payment models through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Those models will focus on, among other areas, innovative ways to pay for drugs, primary care and conditions with serious medical conditions, and promoting competition in Medicare Advantage, Verma said. 
 
In addition, Verma spoke about the need to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, which she said is important to President Trump. He is expected to make a major speech soon on the issue. 
 
“When patients cannot afford their medication, adherence goes down and patients get sicker,” Verma said. “Life-saving treatments don’t mean anything if a patient can’t afford them.”