CMS strives to empower beneficiaries with cost, quality information

Through new digital tools, including secure access to claims information, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is focused on providing a seamless online healthcare experience for consumers.

Speaking earlier this week at the CMS Quality Conference, Administrator Seema Verma laid out the agency’s vision for empowering Medicare beneficiaries.

“We all know how difficult it can be to navigate the healthcare system,” Verma told the audience. “We are taking action to create a world where patients have instant information at their fingertips to easily choose a doctor to get the best care at the lowest price.”

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Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Verma, the businesswoman Trump selected to oversee Medicaid, the health care program for 74 million low-income Americans, has said the program is structurally flawed by policies that burden states and foster dependency among the poor. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Launched in 2018, the eMedicare initiative is aimed at empowering beneficiaries with cost and quality information that will enable them to make more informed healthcare decisions.

“Over the next year, as part of eMedicare, you will see a new mobile comparison tool that allows beneficiaries to compare quality ratings across all types of care settings instead of having to look across 10 different sites that exist today,” Verma added.

Earlier this week, CMS released the “What’s Covered” app to enable consumers to more easily obtain healthcare coverage information for Original Medicare Part A and Part B in the doctor’s office, hospital or any location they use their mobile device.

Also See: CMS app provides details on fee-for-service Medicare coverage

Verma noted that price transparency is critical to patient empowerment, and healthcare costs have continued to skyrocket because prices are largely hidden from patients.

“Starting this year, CMS now requires hospitals to post their standard price information online, in a format that can be electronically accessed and where people can actually find it,” she said.

“If you can’t find the price of a procedure at your local hospital on their website, I want to know about it,” Verma added. “You can tweet at me with the hashtag ‘where’s-the-price.’ ”

In addition, thanks to the agency’s Blue Button 2.0 initiative, she pointed out that more than 1,400 app developers are “building user-friendly apps that help Americans understand and access their data, like sharing their claims history with their doctor, lists of medications and reminders for care.”

As a result of the eMedicare and Blue Button 2.0 initiatives, Verma concluded that CMS is empowering patients with better access to information including price and quality transparency—as well as choice and competition—all of which is putting them in the “driver’s seat” when it comes to their healthcare.

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