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Remarks at Healthy Adult Opportunity Announcement

January 28, 2020

Alex M. Azar II
Medicaid stakeholders
January 30, 2020
Washington, D.C.

For the nearly 60 years of the Medicaid program’s existence, the federal government has essentially been dictating to states how they have to run the program.

The Trump Administration thinks that approach is backwards.

States should be the ones determining their needs. They should be given the flexibility and the options they need to address the challenges they face, to deliver innovative solutions, and to tailor their programs to the needs of their people.

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, and thank you everyone for joining us here at HHS. In particular, thank you, Governor Stitt and Senator Cassidy, for being here today.

Today’s announcement is a major element of CMS’s commitment to implementing President Trump’s healthcare vision.

President Trump has an exciting vision for healthcare: a system with affordable, personalized care, a system that puts you in control, provides peace of mind, and treats you like a human being, not a number.

What undergirds this vision is a promise from the President: He’ll protect what works and fix what’s broken in our system.

Few places are more important to apply this maxim than the Medicaid program, which currently covers more than 71 million people.

Medicaid has its roots as a social safety net for the most vulnerable: for the elderly, the disabled, and mothers and their children.

But as the Medicaid population has evolved, and our healthcare system has evolved as well, the program has not always kept up with the times.

Moreover, its financing structure, with the federal government more than matching state contributions, has encouraged perverse policy and spending decisions.

The opportunity we’re announcing today aims to address these problems: to protect the Medicaid program, by providing a roadmap states can seek to use, as an option, to fix the program’s one-size-fits-all approach and reform its flawed fiscal incentives.

This is an invitation for states to work with us to make Medicaid more flexible, more person-centered, and more focused on improving the health of those it serves than ever before.

What we’re announcing today isn’t a mandate or a top-down reform; it is a real opportunity for states to deliver better health for millions of Americans.

For the nearly 60 years of the Medicaid program’s existence, the federal government has essentially been dictating to states how they have to run the program.

The Trump Administration thinks that approach is backwards.

States should be the ones determining their needs. They should be given the flexibility and the options they need to address the challenges they face, to deliver innovative solutions, and to tailor their programs to the needs of their people.

That’s the approach we’ve taken with many other Medicaid reforms.

That includes the huge expansion of waivers for substance abuse and mental health treatment under President Trump, with 27 states now receiving waivers to address substance abuse and three receiving waivers to address serious mental illness.

We’ve approved plans for seven states to negotiate value-based supplemental rebates to bring down drug costs, including for two states to use innovative subscription-style payment plans for high-cost drugs.

We’ve launched models to integrate care for mothers and their kids, to improve their health and head off challenges down the road.

Efforts of this magnitude would have been impossible without the dedication Administrator Verma has to her work and to reforming the Medicaid program in particular.

Just today’s guidance alone represents a huge amount of work by the Administrator and her team.

These healthcare achievements are also the result of cooperation across the administration, including with the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.

So, to say a few words and introduce Administrator Verma, I’d now like to welcome up to the stage Joe Grogan, Director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Last modified: February 6, 2020