By Wesley Prater
HHS has done a good job of inserting more transparency into the Medicaid waiver approval process and providing “waiver watchers” with an opportunity to provide our input on important health care policy decisions. One way the agency is collecting input is through the “CMS Idea Factory” website. Now is the time to take HHS up on the offer by posting comments and/or voting for your favorite comments on state Medicaid waivers.
New Mexico recently submitted an application for a waiver that would combine its existing 1915 (b), 1915(c), and 1115 waivers to redesign Medicaid into a comprehensive managed care delivery system. The waiver application includes potentially harmful requests to children and families such as increasing cost-sharing for non-emergency use of the emergency room and eliminating retroactive eligibility.
The federal 30-day comment period deadline technically ended on October 5; however, CMS will not make any decisions regarding the waiver until at least October 20 and continues to take public comments and votes.
HHS has made it fairly easy for your opinion to be heard. Here’s a refresher course on how to use the Idea Factory:
1) Go to the Idea Factory by clicking here:
2) Click on a state Medicaid waiver section listed along the right side.
3) Review the comments and vote for those you agree with and/or post your own comment. (Each registered e-mail address gets 10 votes per topic and you may assign more than one vote to each comment.)
If you are interested in affecting positive change but don’t have the time to sift through all the comments, I suggest you take a short cut and go directly to these recommended comments on the New Mexico waiver and vote for those you like (remember you have up to three votes per comment and a total of 10 votes per waiver):
How will savings be achieved for children and others already in managed care?
Fees for emergency room use harm low income families
For a full description of the waiver process, please look at the brief CCF’s Joan Alker co-authored for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid.