Payer Roundup—CMS approves Maryland's all-payer expansion; Groups call for an end to Medicaid waivers

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The Trump administration has approved Maryland's unique all-payer model. (Sarah Stierch/CC BY 4.0)

Trump administration approves expansion of Maryland's all-payer model 

The Trump administration has approved an expansion of Maryland's all-payer payment model, the state governor's office announced Monday.

The one-of-a-kind model aims to coordinate care between providers and promote patient outcomes. The expanded model is projected to save $300 million per year by 2023, and a total of $1 billion over five years. 

“The new Maryland Model will expand healthcare access and affordability—and ultimately improve quality of life—for Marylanders, especially those with chronic and complex medical conditions,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. “Maryland continues to lead the nation in innovative healthcare delivery, and the expansion of our successful model is a huge step forward in our efforts to ensure that every Marylander has access to quality care.” (Release)

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Groups call for an end to Medicaid waivers—for now

Dozens of organizations have "deep concerns" with Medicaid demonstration waiver evaluations, citing a recent report by a government watchdog. 

In a letter, groups including Families USA, NAACP and Susan G. Komen asked Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to stop approving new waivers until it demonstrates its ability to conduct "comprehensive public evaluations of its existing waivers."

The letter cited a February report by the Government Accountability Office which found that the federal government failed to require complete and timely evaluations from states, and that the agency does not make such results public. 

"In the absence of federal evaluations that are meaningful, independent and public, policies that remake the Medicaid program via waiver simply cannot be implemented in what is in essence a blindfolded manner," the organizations said. (Letter [PDF])

BCBS of North Carolina nudged to cut state plan rates

North Carolina has directed Blue Cross Blue Shield to cut state health plan rates by at least 15% to save taxpayer dollars.

State Treasurer Dale Folwell said negotiating the contracts would save the state about $300 million per year, WRAL reported. The state is the insurer's largest customer with BCBS of North Carolina providing medical benefits for more than 700,000 public servants and their family members. 

The savings would be used to lower premiums and alleviate the state's $34 billion in healthcare liabilities for retirees. (WRAL)