CMS Administrator Verma, HHS Secretary Price Issue Statement to Governors on Medicaid Flexibility

New Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Seema Verma and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price have issued a joint letter to the nation’s Governors, outlining a vision of enhanced flexibility for states to administer their Medicaid programs. In the letter, Price and Verma commit to “ushering in a new era for the federal and state Medicaid partnership where states have more freedom to design programs that meet the spectrum of diverse needs of their Medicaid population.” While focusing on “break[ing] down barriers,” the letter also restates CMS’s commitment to “certain mechanisms, which ensure state accountability,” such as “budget neutrality for waivers and demonstration projects,” and “reasonable public input processes and transparency guidelines.”

The letter describes “some of the key areas where [CMS] will improve collaboration with states and move towards more effective program management,” including:

  • Providing “reasonable timelines for home and community-based services transformation,” although the letter does not specify any changes to current timeframes. Price and Verma do commit to “greater state involvement in the process of assessing compliance of specific settings.”
  • Making “the State Plan Amendment approval process more transparent, efficient, and less burdensome,” improving the speed of waiver renewals.

FMI: The letter is available at