On Wednesday, December 13, NHPCO’s President and CEO Edo Banach and I attended a productive meeting with CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Hospice Action Network board members Mark Murray, a hospice provider in South Bend, Indiana in Seema Verma’s home state, and Angie Sells, from AseraCare, a multi-state hospice provider attended the meeting as well and eloquently represented the hospice provider voice. The planned agenda for our meeting with Administrator Verma included a quick review on facts about hospice, our response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) request for information and progress on the Medicare Care Choices Model (MCCM), the impact on hospice when Medicaid managed care is in place, and concerns related to Hospice Compare.
Pictured at the NHPCO office pre-meeting are NHPCO Vice President of Regulatory and Compliance Judi Lund Person, AseraCare President Angie Sells, NHPCO President & CEO Edo Banach, and Center for Hospice Care President & CEO Mark Murray.
On Wednesday afternoon, we made our way to the Hubert Humphrey building in downtown DC to meet with Administrator Verma. She was joined by five members of the CMS staff, representing both the Center for Medicare and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. We began with a few quick data facts about hospice but quickly moved to a robust discussion about innovation, where we shared why the hospice and palliative care patient-centered approach is exactly in line with the Administrator’s goals for patient-centered care. Verma was particularly interested in how hospices can be involved with patients earlier in their disease process, and we discussed the need for care navigation and coordination and how hospices are already involved in that process.
The meeting with Administrator Verma (center) was productive and informative.
We also had a discussion about the MCCM and talked about some of the limitations of the model, as well as what the learning has been. We commented that the supportive services offered in the MCCM model are exactly what many patients need before they elect hospice. Our hope is to build on that learning as we consider additional models.
It was clear from our discussions that innovation is a high priority issue for the Administrator. Our visit highlighted the skills and experiences of hospice providers to participate in models for seriously ill patients and develop new models to ensure that patients and their families have the care and supportive services they need. We agreed to continue our discussions with Administrator Verma and CMS staff at the meeting. It was a productive and useful meeting, and we look forward to continuing to build upon the strong working relationship between NHPCO and CMS.