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Election-driven shifts in healthcare innovation 

Innovation is the source of progress, driving advancements across industries and shaping the way we live, work, and interact. However, the landscape of innovation is not static—it ebbs and flows, influenced by various factors including political leadership. This year’s presidential election may bring forth significant shifts in priorities, policies, and funding that directly impact innovation efforts like Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), state waivers and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). 

CMMI serves as a catalyst for testing innovative payment and service delivery models within Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With a new administration comes the potential for shifts in CMMI’s focus and funding priorities. For instance, a president (or his/her appointees) can direct CMMI to design payment models, reimbursement structures that can lead to higher quality outcomes and more cost-effective healthcare delivery. The policy priorities and values that undergird a president’s healthcare agenda can shape the kinds of innovation that CMMI drives. Current CMMI initiatives have prioritized value-based care approaches linking payment to outcomes, improving equity of care across race, gender, and geography, and patient-centered care models designed to support particularly high cost, complex conditions; the priorities of the previous administration included focus on substance abuse disorders, kidney disease, and diabetes.  

CMS also grants waivers to states, such as Section 1115 waivers for Medicaid or 1332 waivers for insurance marketplaces, that offer flexibility to experiment with innovative healthcare solutions. The values and policy approaches of a new president will influence the degree of regulatory flexibility and the types of experimentation that will be approved. For example, several states have recently received approval on Medicaid waivers that encourage community-based approaches to whole person care, wrapping together healthcare coverage, benefits, delivery, with new support services that address upstream barriers to health. 

ARPA-H, a new unit within the National Institutes of Health focuses on investments in “break-through technologies and broadly applicable platforms, capabilities, resources, and solutions that have the potential to transform important areas of medicine and health for the benefit of all patients,” holds immense potential for driving breakthroughs in healthcare by funding innovation that “cannot readily be accomplished through traditional research or commercial activity.” The types of projects funded by ARPA-H could be directly impacted by the policy and budget priorities of whomever is president in 2025 and their interest in promoting collaboration between government, academia, and industry to address complex health challenges. A prime example of a potentially impacted area is the emphasis on cancer research by the Biden Administration. This focus may shift drastically with a change in leadership.  

For healthcare innovators looking to stay informed and adaptable amidst these potential policy changes, HMA has two opportunities of interest: The HMA Fall conference, and a DC Direct subscription.  On October 7-9, healthcare leaders and HMA experts will gather for the 2024 Fall Conference: Unlocking Solutions in Medicaid, Medicare and Marketplace, focused on innovation in public programs. Our keynote speaker Darshak Sanghavi, MD is, a foundational leader at ARPA-H tasked with developing health programs that challenge how we think about healthcare innovation inside and outside government. Conference registration is open and can be found here

Leavitt Partners (LP), an HMA Company, guides clients who need to more closely track federal policy and regulatory activity and know when and how to influence the process. DC Direct, an exclusive offering from LP, provides timely information and insights to elevate your knowledge from simply scratching the surface of understanding to becoming part of the fabric of change. 

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