Correction, Dec. 1, 2016:
Slavitt's speech did not directly address the Trump administration's plans for healthcare reform. An earlier version of this story implied that he had.
In one of his final public appearances as acting administrator of the CMS, Andy Slavitt urged progress beyond the Affordable Care Act, saying that losing any gains made by the healthcare reform law would drive up long-term health care costs. He also said future reform should aspire to reach universal coverage.
Slavitt said there must be replacement plans for the 20 million people who signed up under President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law.
“Build from a foundation on the progress we've achieved, don't head backwards,” Slavitt told an audience of hospitals, medical practices and physicians Thursday at a D.C. event touting the advances of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act.
Slavitt said rolling back any laws that allow insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime limits on benefits — both of which the ACA prohibited — would leave those who gained coverage under the law “in limbo.”
President-elect Donald Trump, whom Slavitt never named directly during the event, only saying that “new leaders” should improve coverage in a bipartisan fashion, has reneged on his campaign promise to completely repeal and replace the ACA.
Trump said that President Barack Obama had convinced him to keep the prohibition on coverage denial based on pre-existing medical conditions and a provision that allows parents to keep their children on their health plans until age 26.
Slavitt also lauded the efforts of the CMS Innovation Center, which was created by the ACA to develop and test new payment and healthcare delivery programs, for coming up with alternative payment models such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
Some Republicans have criticized the Innovation Center's mandatory demonstrations, particularly efforts to change how Medicare Part B pays for drugs administered in doctors' offices and hospital outpatient departments. There's talk on the Hill that Republicans are drafting legislation to repeal the center or deplete its budget.
“MACRA can't work well without the CMS Innovation Center,” Slavitt said. “With changes to the Innovation Center, the advance to alternative payment models could slow significantly.”
Slavitt said that without the center, patients would have fewer innovative care options.
“Insist that modernization of Medicare actually means modernization,” Slavitt said to the audience of hospitals, medical practices and physicians. “Progress is achieved by ingenuity, innovation and teamwork and using data and technology on behalf of people, not by changing funding formulas.”
Following his remarks, Slavitt told Modern Healthcare that he was optimistic that the move away from fee-for-service to value-based care would continue under a Trump administration.
“I have heard nothing to suggest otherwise,” Slavitt said. “The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act was bipartisan, and that was all about value-based purchasing.”