- Seema Verma, the former head of Indiana’s Medicaid agency, will lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as Republican lawmakers seek to make significant changes to both public programs.
In a 55-43 vote that saw some Democratic crossover, the Senate confirmed Verma on Monday evening.
Verma worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence during his time as Indiana governor, helping to design a conservative Medicaid program that includes premium payments and financial incentives for making positive care choices.
Her approach to Medicaid would likely include efforts to encourage state-level oversight of major aspects of the program, according to reports from major news outlets.
Verma received early congratulations from several healthcare organizations and societies, including the American Medical Group Association.
“AMGA congratulates Seema Verma on her confirmation to become the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services,” said AMGA President and CEO Donald W. Fisher, PhD, CAE.
“She has extensive experience in working with policymakers to transform state Medicaid programs. We are eager to work with her on continuing the transition from fee-for-service payments to a system that promotes value. AMGA members are focused on providing quality health care to their 130 million patients, and we look forward to working with policymakers like Ms. Verma to empower our members to continue to advance high performance health.”
The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare extended similar sentiments.
"The Partnership fully supports the confirmation of Ms. Verma as CMS' next Administrator and stands ready to work with her to implement patient focused policy solutions that reduce regulatory burdens and increase access to home healthcare services," said Keith Myers, Chairman of the PQHH.
"Ms. Verma's experience in the healthcare field as well as her impressive leadership background make her uniquely poised to strengthen the Medicare home health benefit."
Bruce Siegel, MD, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals, also applauded Verma’s familiarity with Medicaid and her experience with architecting policy.
“Through her work at an essential hospital, Ms. Verma has firsthand experience with health care for low-income and other vulnerable people. She also has deep experience helping states tailor Medicaid to meet specific program and policy goals. This background gives Ms. Verma a particularly relevant perspective as Congress and the administration weigh fundamental changes to Medicaid funding.”
The confirmation comes at a critical time for an industry bracing for major changes to two of its largest programs, both of which tend to guide the actions of private payers.
As Republicans fight to calm stakeholder fears that the proposed American Health Care Act might derail the health system’s ability to manage populations effectively and serve vulnerable patients in a cost-effective manner, the new Administration’s top leaders, including HHS Secretary Tom Price, will likely play a high-profile role in communicating any changes to a wary provider community.