- Payer and provider lobbying groups are urging CMS to pull back a proposed rule that aims to clamp down on supplemental Medicaid payments in order to contain spending growth.
- The American Hospital Association wants CMS to withdraw the rule, warning it would "severely curtail the availability of health care services to millions of individuals," according to comments it submitted in response to the proposal.
- The insurance lobby wants CMS to start with a "more limited initial step" and focus on gathering data so it can "fully assess the current landscape of state Medicaid funding and payment mechanisms," America's Health Insurance Plans said in its comments. The Association for Community Affiliated Plans also asked the agency to withdraw the rule.
A sharp rise in these supplemental Medicaid payments caught the attention of CMS as spending has continued to increase and much of the growth has come from the federal share of the program, according to the agency.
These supplemental payments from the federal government to the states have risen from 9.4% of all other payments in fiscal year 2010 to 17.5% in 2017. This growth comes with "an urgent responsibility to ensure sound stewardship and oversight of the Medicaid program," CMS said in November as it rolled out the proposed rule called Medicaid Fiscal Accountability Regulation.
A 2015 Government Accountability Office report found that states are increasingly relying on providers to help them finance the state's portion of Medicaid funding. "A small number of providers supplied funds to the state for the nonfederal share, generally through intergovernmental fund transfers or provider taxes, and in turn received large supplemental payments, enabling states to obtain billions of dollars in additional federal matching funds," according to the report.
CMS argues the proposed rule, which calls for states to provide more detailed information on these supplemental payments, including provider-specific payment data, would help beef up its oversight of the program.
AHA warned, however, the rule could cut Medicaid payments to hospitals by up to $31 billion annually, or nearly 17% of total hospital program payments. The group also argued the changes violate the Administrative Procedures Act and due process protections in the Constitution.
The Association of American Medical Colleges also opposed the rule, saying it would "limit the federal government's congressionally mandated responsibility to the Medicaid program and could result in reductions in coverage, access, and quality care for the millions of vulnerable patients who rely on this critical program."
CMS and the GAO report have noted a lack of data about these payments once they reach the states, making it hard to do any sort of analysis. In fact, GAO complained that the state of California did not have data on these payments for the agency to do an assessment.