July 15—A new “collaboration” with states announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will provide $100 million in federal expertise to help Medicaid programs to improve healthcare delivery while reducing costs.

The Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program (IAP) stemmed from recent recommendations of the National Governors Association’s (NGA) health care sustainability task force, including identifying opportunities for care improvement and addressing high-priority areas such as emergency department utilization.

The program’s funding will pay for federal technical support to help states’ efforts to improve their Medicaid programs and “jumpstart innovation” by providing federal tools and resources.

The new program’s federal expertise will include data analytics, improving quality measurement and rapid cycle evaluation capabilities, and advancing effective and timely dissemination of best practices and learning among states.

“CMS will be consulting with states, experts, consumers, providers and health plans on program priorities to which IAP resources will be applied and how best to deploy these new technical resources,” according to a fact sheet.

CMS is considering holding several meetings across the country in late summer to brief stakeholders and get input. A mailbox CMS established for IAP and other Medicaid reform feedback is MedicaidIAP@cms.hhs.gov.

Enrollment Rise Continues

The new Medicaid-focused program came as the program continues to grow rapidly. In a report issued July 11, CMS said nearly 66 million have enrolled, as of the end of May, in large part due to provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program added 928,628 in May in the 47 states that reported data, which was an increase from 805,038 who joined in April but a decrease from the 1.4 million who enrolled in March.

Enrollment was larger in the 26 states that adopted and implemented the ACA’s Medicaid eligibility expansion by the end of May. Enrollment in those states rose by 17 percent, while states that have not expanded reported only a 3 percent increase.

Costly Errors

The new Medicaid initiative came on the same day the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported that eligibility errors produced an estimated 57 percent of improper Medicaid payments, or $8.2 billion in 2013.

The OIG urged and CMS agreed to issue guidance to states on the requirement for participating in the Medicaid interstate match. That anti-waste program identifies beneficiaries who are enrolled in multiple states’ Medicaid programs. Federal law requires states participate in the program but neither the law nor CMS defines standards of what qualifies as participating so there was wide variation in the degree to which states participated, the OIG found.

Rich Daly is a senior writer/editor in HFMA’s Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter: @rdalyhealthcare.

Publication Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2014