(1) From Picture to Reality: Approving Technologies with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid

For the past few weeks, I have been working with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), specifically in the Division of New Technology (DNT). CMS provides health coverage to more than 100 million people through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and other programs. Within the Center, the Division of New Technology is a branch that falls under the Technology, Coding, and Pricing Group, which works to approve new technologies to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid plans for consumers, and has been created to help streamline the process of approving new technologies to be covered by insurance. Some members of my team have called it a hopeful “FDA to CMS pipeline”! 

The main goal of the DNT is to allow beneficiaries (patients) access to new and innovative technologies (e.g.: devices, equipment, etc.) to promote health equity and the overall betterment of health of the U.S. population. As newer and better technologies are developed each year, it is important that all patients have access to these improvements so they see improvements in their health. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries deserve access to the same promising technologies and interventions that are afforded to private healthcare insurance beneficiaries, which is why the DNT’s role in streamlining the approval of technologies under coverage is so vital.

As an intern, I have been studying different government healthcare statutes and regulations, and advising my team at the DNT on ways to incorporate new technologies into written Medicare policy. I’ve been reviewing grants and proposals for new technologies, meeting with manufacturers of these new machineries, and ultimately offering feedback to my team on ways we can incorporate these technologies. The small steps that I take behind the scenes (usually in the form of extensive paperwork and many, many zoom calls) will hopefully lead to their ultimate approval under CMS policy, allowing CMS patients access to them. 

I really wanted to complete an internship with the DNT because I wanted to see the process of how health policy is written and how directly it impacts patients, whether that is by increasing access to improved technologies or by changing policy to remove outdated standards of care. Through my work, I have seen firsthand how different subsections within Medicare work to optimize coverage for beneficiaries to allow all people fair and equitable access to healthcare. Many forms of grassroots interventions within medicine and healthcare meant to combat health inequities and disparities are “band-aid” solutions to a larger problem, and I now feel that real progress towards health equity comes in the form of policy changes to address healthcare infrastructure and access. I believe this is encompassed by the DNT’s work to ensure patients have access to technologies that will equip them with better health outcomes. 

My hope is that my work this summer with the DNT will further the DNT’s mission to influence policy surrounding health coverage and access to technologies, in order to ensure that access to new technologies and insurance coverage is more equitable overall. Even the few technologies that I am able to form policy around this summer could be instrumental in shaping the standard of care for CMS beneficiaries in the U.S.

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