Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma today discussed the administration’s three primary goals for strengthening Medicare – empowering patients, innovating and aligning incentives – during an Alliance for Health Policy event for reporters and other stakeholders. She said that the administration will focus on overhauling old, antiquated rules that “don’t make sense anymore.” Specifically, Verma talked about making changes to the physician self-referral (Stark) law by the end of the year. In addition, she discussed the importance of reducing administrative burden, creating marketplace competition, negotiating to help reduce drug costs and improving drug price transparency among drug manufacturers. The event also featured a panel of health care leaders from the AHA, American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans and AARP. Joanna Hiatt Kim, AHA’s vice president of payment policy, discussed the need to address the high costs of prescription drugs and regulatory burden on providers, as well as develop new models that would help increase access to care. For example, Kim highlighted an AHA emergency medical center model, which was one of nine strategies identified by an AHA task force to help ensure access to care in vulnerable communities. “Ensuring that patients get the care they need is, and always will be, our top priority,” Kim said. In May, Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced AHA-supported legislation that aligns with the emergency medical center model.