Verma draws the line on any Medicaid lifetime limits

Four state Medicaid waivers are all but dead following CMS' announcement that the agency won't approve any Medicaid lifetime limit proposal. (CMS)

The Trump administration will not approve any Medicaid lifetime limits, according to the agency's head, leaving four state waiver proposals hanging out to dry.  

Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator, said Tuesday in a live news event hosted by the Washington Post that the agency has "indicated we would not approve lifetime limits" and has made that "pretty clear to the states." 

Verma's comment follows the CMS' recent rejection of Kansas' lifetime limit proposal, which critics said would unfairly burden people who struggle financially throughout their lives.

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"We seek to create a pathway out of poverty, but we also understand that people’s circumstances change, and we must ensure that our programs are sustainable and available to them when they need and qualify for them," Verma previously said. 

Some questioned whether Kansas' waiver rejection was due to the state's short three-year limit, and if longer limits had more potential. The answer is now a clear "no," leaving four states—Arizona, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin—awaiting denial. 

"We want to make sure [Medicaid] serves as a safety net," she said at the event, adding that CMS is still considering Wisconsin's Medicaid drug-testing waiver, as well as partial expansions.

Drug database

Verma also announced that the agency refreshed an Obama-era drug-spending database for the first time under the Trump administration.

Updates to the Medicare and Medicaid dashboards now provide year-over-year drug price increases, a move that could show which drug companies are raising prices. The update also expanded to include a majority of drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

The database was launched in 2015, and Verma indicated that the agency wants to keep it around as a way to increase price transparency.

"We want to empower patients with the information they need to make the best decisions," she said.