In a Health Affairs blog post, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure and Center for Medicaid & CHIP Services (CMCS) Director Dan Tsai described their policy agenda for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The blog post outlines the strategic vision for how to strengthen and protect Medicaid and CHIP, which Brooks-LaSure and Tsai describe as a critical priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. It focuses on three areas: coverage and access; equity; and innovation and whole-person care. These key areas also align with the larger vision for CMS as a whole and the agency’s six strategic pillars.

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For all three focus areas, they write in the post, it is essential to collect, understand, and use data because it makes the information transparent to stakeholders. This includes prioritizing collection of data on race, ethnicity, language, disability status, and other factors and using the information to identify disparities in access, health outcomes, and quality of care.

Ultimately, they said, the agency must make it easier for eligible people to enroll in Medicaid and CHIP and keep their coverage.

Coverage and access: Brooks-LaSure and Tsai say they aim to make sure eligible people maintain coverage after the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) ends. Medicaid and CHIP enrollment increased 15 percent (from 71 million to more than 82 million people) between the onset of the PHE and May. Once the PHE ends, states will have 12 months to conduct eligibility renewals for everyone enrolled. CMCS is working with the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight to help states’ efforts by creating guidance and planning tools, conducting regular workshops, all-state calls, and individualized technical assistance; and partnering with Medicaid managed care plans and health plans on the marketplace to help people and their families to maintain health care coverage.

Equity: While Medicaid is a driver of health equity, the authors write that the data shows significant racial disparities within Medicaid persist. Going forward, health equity will be at the center of all policy decisions for Medicaid, they said, and not an afterthought. This means CMS will work with states to measure health disparities across a core set of metrics and implementing evidence-based interventions targeted at reducing health disparities.

Innovation and whole-person care: The agency intends to partner with states to support all of a person’s needs, including physical health, behavioral health, oral health, long-term service and supports, and health-related social needs. By 2030, Medicaid intends to transition most Medicaid beneficiaries into accountable care relationships.

For the full details, click here to read the entire blog post.