Seema Verma Confirmed as CMS Head

New administrator offers extensive Medicaid experience

The Senate has approved the confirmation of Seema Verma as the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), according to The New York Times. The vote was 55 to 43 in favor of her appointment. 

Unlike most people who have held the job, Verma has extensive experience with Medicaid, the Times reports. She was an architect of Indiana’s Medicaid program––widely seen as a model by conservatives––and worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence when he was the state’s governor. Indiana expanded Medicaid eligibility, but emphasized “personal responsibility.” Beneficiaries paid premiums, contributed to health savings accounts, and received incentives for healthy behavior.

Under the program, “hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers currently have health insurance,” said Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, one of three Democrats who voted for Verma.

“This plan,” he said, “has helped lower our state’s uninsured rate and improve health care outcomes, and has played a critical role in combating the opioid-abuse and heroin-use epidemics.”

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Finance Committee, said Verma was “the ideal candidate to oversee the reform of the Medicaid program,” as she had worked well with members of both parties in Indiana and in other states.

But Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) said Verma has supported proposals that “create roadblocks to coverage for low-income Americans.”

As CMS administrator, Verma will be in charge of an agency that spends more than $1 trillion a year on programs providing health care to more than one-third of all Americans, according to the Times.

Source: The New York Times; March 13, 2017.