Medicaid chief visits Silicon Valley

The head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services visited the West Coast this week to pitch Silicon Valley startups to innovate around Medicaid.

The head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services visited the West Coast this week to pitch Silicon Valley startups to innovate for his agency and the huge program it runs for low income Americans.

Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, took the trip out west to convene “states, innovative tech companies, and federal Medicaid officials on how to collaborate to improve the delivery of Medicaid health coverage in states,” a CMS blog he penned says.

The trip out west is one more and more federal agencies, like the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, are taking to connect to cutting-edge technology from the Valley.

The meetings in Silicon Valley, Slavitt writes, “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.”


Medicaid, jointly funded by federal and state governments, is administered by the states.

In conjunction with his trip, Slavitt announced CMS is developing a playbook “to help companies translate states’ requests for proposals into work they believe can move the needle.”

Likewise, CMS is recruiting a Medicaid-focused entrepreneur-in-residence to further serve as a sherpa for startups interested in getting involved with the program.

[Read more: New Medicaid plans will sweet IT modernization for vendors]

While CMS is the federal agency responsible for doling out funds for Medicaid and Medicare, states — the recipients of those funds — are ultimately responsible for administering the programs and purchasing modernized IT systems to improve provision. 


CMS invests more than $5 billion in Medicaid IT annually and matches up to 90 percent of state spending on new systems. In January, it introduced new resources to make it easier for small, innovative tech companies to get a piece of that cash.

“While there are 56 different state, district, and territorial Medicaid programs, there is a lot of commonality in their IT needs,” the blog says. “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.”

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