May 25, 2016
By Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator @aslavitt
Earlier this year, I announced a new effort to connect new, innovative companies and their investors to the state Medicaid program IT space. Since this announcement, I have been encouraged by the initial interest from companies that may not have otherwise ever thought about participating in this important health insurance program that covers more than 72 million Americans.
That’s why I’m in Silicon Valley today to participate in a forum on bringing technological advances to Medicaid. The forum is convening states, innovative tech companies, and federal Medicaid officials on how to collaborate to improve the delivery of Medicaid health coverage in states.
These meetings will help in getting two very different cultures – state government and tech companies – speaking the same language and exploring opportunities to work together to continue to improve care delivery within Medicaid.
While there are 56 different state, district, and territorial Medicaid programs, there is a lot of commonality in their IT needs. There is always new IT procurement and opportunities for new, innovative vendors in this space. This industry is primed for a new era -- Software as a Service software– that has real time capabilities and requirements and Federal sponsorship for a 90 percent match on qualifying IT investments.
Investment gravitates to needs and problems it can solve. There is no greater opportunity than bringing technical know-how, innovation and creativity to improve the health of Americans with health, social and economic challenges.
CMS is fully committed financially and operationally to partner with states and the private sector to improve state programs. The federal government alone invests more than $5 billion per year in Medicaid IT and matches up to 90 percent on new projects. Still, there may be some apprehension by IT companies – large or small, new or established – to engage in bidding for state government contracts.
But, we’re working to tear down these barriers and taking it past the opportunity to make a new market.
We’ve already created a one-stop-shop for the tech community to connect with states looking for innovative solutions. On this site, vendors can easily find links to states’ Medicaid procurement websites and to any open state Medicaid IT Requests for Proposals.
We are also doing more to bring these two groups together. CMS is developing a “playbook” to help companies translate states’ requests for proposals into work they believe can move the needle. We are also inviting vendors to seek pre-certification from CMS for their Medicaid IT solutions and put their names and products on a “Pre-Certified Medicaid Modules” list on our Medicaid.gov website.
Finally, to help be a bridge between states and the tech sector, we are actively recruiting a full time entrepreneur-in-residence fully committed to the Medicaid space.
It is an exciting time to be in the Medicaid space. With Medicaid expansion, Medicaid has become America's health plan. Medicaid has always served some of our most vulnerable citizens: the elderly, disabled, low-income, pregnant women, and children. New policies strengthen consumer access and driving improved quality and additional care options for people at home and in their communities. Stronger approaches to IT underpin these promising new directions.
This work has the potential to leave a legacy in the lives it touches for many years to come. Engaging the tech community and federal and state policy makers in this substantial modernization effort is just the beginning.