Trump Nominates Verma to Head the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services


President-elect Donald Trump has selected Seema Verma, a health care consultant, to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is the division of the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees Medicare, Medicaid [Medi-Cal in California], and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and has a budget of just under a trillion dollars in 2016.

Verma comes to the job with extensive Medicaid experience. Her consulting firm, SVC, Inc., worked closely with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to design Indiana’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The expansion, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan or HIP 2.0, went into effect early last year, and Verma’s involvement may be important as Congress and the Trump administration, including the vice-president elect, make decisions on the future of the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid.

Indiana’s unique Medicaid expansion, designed to appeal to conservatives, includes having enrollees pay small monthly premiums to access health insurance. A missed payment can result in six-month lockout from insurance coverage. Those provisions aren’t allowed under traditional Medicaid, but Indiana got special permission from CMS to implement them through a waiver.

Other Republican-led states such as Iowa, Ohio and Kentucky, have contracted with Verma’s firm to help submit their own Medicaid expansion proposals to the federal government that also include conservative provisions such as asking recipients to pay for some of their care, or requiring them to work or be actively looking for work.

Verma’s pick to head CMS could mean that proposals similar to Indiana’s may be more likely to be approved.

(Source: [11/29/2016])