Verma is your new CMS administrator

 - 
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Senate has voted 55-43 to approve the nomination of Seema Verma, a health policy consultant from Indiana, as CMS administrator.

Verma, the president, CEO and founder of SVC, an Indianapolis-based national health policy consulting company, will oversee a $1 trillion agency that serves more than 100 million Americans that access healthcare services through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the Marketplace.

Verma, along with new Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, will be tasked with transforming Medicaid and overhauling the Affordable Care Act.

Verma has made a name for herself redesigning Indiana’s Medicaid program. She helped the state expand eligibility, but she required recipients to pay premiums, contribute to health savings accounts and receive incentives for healthy behavior. She has also helped to develop many other Medicaid reforms, including waivers in Iowa, Ohio and Kentucky.

Verma has comparatively little experience with Medicare.

Prior to full approval by the Senate, Verma was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on March 2 by a vote of 13-12.

During a hearing before that committee on Feb. 16, Verma said that one-size-fits-all approaches to healthcare, like CMS’s competitive bidding program, don’t always work. She made the comment in response to a question from Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., about whether or not she would be willing to continue to have a dialogue about how the bid program can ensure Medicare beneficiaries, especially those in rural states, get the medical equipment they need.

“I think what you're bringing up in terms of the competitive bidding is an excellent example where, we've got some providers who are being paid—they're rural providers, but they're being paid at a rate that's more appropriate for an urban area. And, so I think that's the type of policy where understanding how that's going to impact our rural provider on the front-end and having that discussion so that we're not having problems later on down the line. And, if we are having issues, we need to be responsive to that because we want to make sure…that seniors and other folks that depend on CMS programs always have high quality care and that they have accessibility. We don't want to see that our policies and our programs are actually preventing providers—that we're losing providers and that they don't want to see Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries anymore. So, we'll be very careful with policies so that we're not pushing providers out of the system, but that we're actually attracting providers to the program.”

Verma replaces Acting Administrator Dr. Patrick Conway, who is also deputy administrator for Innovation and Quality.