Cantwell Pushes Innovation, Fights for Protecting Medicaid in Hearing with CMS Nominee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pushed President Donald Trump’s nominee for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, to advocate for innovation in the Medicaid program to save on healthcare costs rather than cutting the program through block grants.

“I hope you will be much more of an advocate for innovation in Medicaid. Instead of trying to nickel-and-dime poor people on a co-payment or administrative cost, come up with a strategy like re-balancing that gives people real opportunities to deal with this population, save costs, and keep people in a better healthy situation,” said Cantwell during the hearing.

Cantwell pointed to Washington state’s success in reducing costs in the Medicaid program while improving health outcomes for patients.

“In our state we saved $2.5 billion by taking people out of nursing home care and putting them into community-based care,” Cantwell said in regards to Washington state’s successful efforts to “re-balance” Medicaid beneficiaries from more expensive nursing homes and institutions to less expensive outpatient and home-based care over a 15-year period.

Cantwell also questioned Verma’s position on block granting Medicaid, citing data showing that block granting other social services programs has resulted in a net reduction of as much as 37 percent over time.

“Saying we’re going to block grant [the Medicaid Program]…and if you applied that same 37%, you’d be cutting over 100,000 people in King County off or you’d be cutting 43,000 people in Spokane off.”

Cantwell has been an outspoken advocate for preserving the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion and reforms to the way healthcare is delivered.  In Washington state, more than 600,000 individuals have gained access to care and peace of mind through the expansion of Medicaid.  Most recently, Cantwell took to the Senate floor to announce her opposition to the confirmation of Tom Price, President Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary, over his efforts to cut and undermine the Medicaid program.