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Tom Price says CMMI 'off track,' hints at changes to programs

Price took issue with heavy-handed government mandates on how healthcare is practiced.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price hinted at changes he might make to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, a division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that manages dozens of pilot programs advancing value-based reimbursement.

While extolling the benefits of innovation in medicine, Price took issue with heavy-handed government mandates on how healthcare is practiced.

[Also: Watch Tom Price's second confirmation hearing]

"CMMI … has gotten off track a bit and has been mandatorily been dictating to physicians how they must practice," said Price during his confirmation hearing Tuesday in front of the Senate Finance Committee. "We can move CMMI in a direction that actually makes sense for patients."

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Price, who has been an outspoken critic of programs such as mandatory bundled payment pilots and the Medicare Part B drug model that CMS decided to suspend in December, did say that the government has a role to incentivize innovation.

"The Part B Medicare drug demo, called a demonstration project, ... dictates to physicians and other providers what drugs they must use in an inpatient setting," he said. "That to me is no longer a trial. That's no longer a experiment, no longer a pilot project to determine whether or not an innovative solution might work."

Later in the hearing, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, pressed price about his commitment to CMMI models that promote pay-for-quality.

"I know in the past you have been a strong critic for Medicare and CMMI, I know in your testimony last week you saw great promise in it," he said. "Do you support CMMI delivery reform demonstrations that have the potential of reduced spending without harming quality of care?"

In response, Price said it's crucial that in making care more efficient that quality is not sacrifice.

"For certain patients, bundled payments make a lot of sense," he said. "I think what we ought to do is allow for all sorts of innovation, not just in this area. There are things I'm certain haven't been thought of yet that would improve quality of care in our country."

Twitter: @HenryPowderly
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