by Countable | 8.7.17
The Senate is expected to confirm President Trump’s nominee to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma. This position is a primary figure in the implementation of Republicans’ health care legislation.
Who is Seema Verma?
Seema Verma, currently CEO of SVC Inc., is a health policy consultant. She received her BA in life sciences from the University of Maryland College Park in 1993 and went on to receive a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins in 1996. Her early career was spent as a vice president of planning for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County and then at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in Washington, DC.
As the CEO of Indianapolis-based SVC Inc. Verma was instrumental in the crafting of Indiana’s Medicaid program, Healthy Indiana Plan, with then-Gov. Mitch Daniels. It was approved by the Indiana legislature in 2008. She was later put in charge of implementing Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act by then-Gov. Mike Pence. The expansion was referred to as "HIP 2.0" and launched in 2015. Verma was also involved in the development of Medicaid implementation plans in Kentucky and Ohio.
What issues were raised during Verma’s confirmation?
Verma has spent her career bringing state health care policies in line with Republican ideas. Her Healthy Indiana Plan requires participants to pay up to 2% of their monthly premium regardless of income and to pay into health savings accounts. Non-compliance can cause participants to be dropped from coverage and subject to lock out periods. In Kentucky her plan involved participants to be involved in "work activity". SVC Inc.’s plan in Ohio was rejected by CMS for barring participants from coverage until any arrears in premiums were brought up to date.
These measures, designed according to Verma to encourage personal responsibility, raise red flags with many Democrats, who see the policies as unnecessarily complex and punitive. Democrats also pushed Verma on whether or not she would endorse moving to block grants for states to reduce federal financial obligations. Verma refused to commit to any specific plans or policies moving forward.
Questions about conflicts of interest were also raised during hearings. Verma testified that the Office of Government Ethics advised her to recuse herself from participating in any issues related to mental health since her husband is a psychiatrist.
What is CMS?
CMS, previously known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HFCA), is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It oversees state insurance markets, Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It is also responsible for formulating and enforcing standards in long-term health facilities, administering the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and clinical laboratory standards under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and, finally, maintenance of Healthcare.gov.
-- Asha Sanaker
Written by Countable
Medicare and Medicaid are two completely different things. I have paid into my Medicare and Social Security for over 50 years. I had a quadruple heart bypass two years ago. I need my heart medicine and my medical care to stay alive. I barely make ends meet now. If you people take from my social security that I paid into all of my life I'll starve . I'm 75. I worked until I was 70. Why do you hate seniors so much? We are a hard working bunch and have earned the right not to be terrorized by you people. I'm from a military family. I'm the daughter of a career officer and I'm the mother of an Army nurse. How can you be so uncaring? I own my little home and my car. I am a widow and a cancer survivor. My husband was injured on the job and disabled. I have never taken charity. Now that I'm 75 you want to cut my Medicare? May God help us old people.
Jamie Butler Herrera Sadly, I know that this request is falling on deaf ears. You are my representative, but your agenda is clearly one of party over people. You should oppose this nomination, but you've already confirmed so many other clearly incapable people to run different agencies. Betsy Devos, Ben Carson, Rex Tillerson...go ahead and vote yes for this. We know you're going to. Please know that we are watching every vote, every tweet, and every time you defend this corrupt administration, or remain silent when you should be doing the right thing. We're watching, we're organizing, and we will vote you out at the first possible opportunity. Senators Cantwell and Murray, thank you for representing the rest of us, the majority of Washingtonians.
Single payer system is the way to go. It works in so many countries. Vote no.
My Congressional Reps, please reject Seema Varma as the new head of Medicare and Medicaid Services. All you have to do is see what has happened to these programs under her guidance in Indiana to see that the goal is to reduce taxes by destroying the safety net put in place by President Roosevelt after the depression. When is Congress going to do something about the dismantling of our Republic, our regulations meant to protect water and air, our healthcare coverage by an administrative hell bent on serving only themselves, the wealthy, the "free market," which is a myth, and an egocentric con man who is being manipulated by a white nationalist in the same way he manipulated millions to vote for him? Americans and Congress.need to wake up to the needless suffering that is going to occur because of a heartless misuse of power by these selfish and short-sighted people. In this the 21st century it is unconscionable that we have people in Congress who are so unenlightened as to disregard the welfare of millions of citizens. Amazingly, the bulk of these Politicians call themselves Christians. People seek the American dream and when they cannot figure out how to accomplish it in the current economic crisis for the middle class, they get angry. Donald Trump manipulated those angry people and falsely promised them that he would help them fulfill their dreams. Instead the nightmares begin.
Just another nominee that favors the wealthy. This is the whole problem with the Trump cabinet and mindset. What swamp is he draining exactly? VOTE NO!
Verma was instrumental in one of the worst state health-care disasters in Indiana along with fellow crony Mike Pence. This is a disgraceful of a pick along with the other Trump picks bent on creating more wealth at the top at the expense of the bottom. She is a deplorable nominee to the core.
The poor and middle class are levered, not because they are irresponsible but because wages and salaries have not kept up with rises in basic living costs. Republican policies are out of touch with the national realities of working families, if they think people can save for insurance and medical care. Please do not make this confirmation. Millions will be harmed.
I oppose Seema Verma's nomination to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Verma's design of the Indiana Medicaid program unjustly punishes beneficiaries for being low income and unable to make payments, and expansion of this model nationwide would be disastrous for some of the most vulnerable people in this country.
A CEO is great for running a business, but the United States is not a business, and healthcare shouldn't be something only the wealthy can afford to have. I do not believe Seema Verma to be fit to serve the majority of the American people, and therefore I oppose her nomination.
I love how so many of these trump supporters make the argument that "first liberals get upset that frump puts only white men in his cabinet but then when he tries to put an Indian woman and an Asian woman in there they still say vote no". Hey racist assholes, it has nothing to do with race, gender, religion, creed, ethnicity, country of origin or anything else like that. IT HAS TO DO WITH THE PERSON! If the persons past practices are garbage or if they are completely lacking ethics, moral fabric, humanity, empathy, honor, respectability, compassion or they are just greedy drump sycophants then we don't want that person making decisions for the rest of us.
Her policy to install flat percentages instead of adjusting the rates of taxpayers based on income puts disadvantages to the poor and lower middle class. We need people who start representing the majority of the American people and not just the small high net worth wealthy donor base.
Health savings plans and vouchers Do Not work for low income families. And if healthcare companies and drug companies continue to have free rein, even two income middle class families won't be left in the game. BTW, did you notice that in the presidents budget he wants to reduce the number of Pelli grants? So, good healthcare and education, two things that will help advance any society if made available to everyone, in the worlds richest country, will be available only to the wealthy under this Republican president and congress.
Please don't vote for her. It says a lot that Ohio rejected the plans implemented in Indiana... its easy to push for social responsibility when you have a job and could study at higher education institutions... it's not the same when you are out of a job because you are trapped in an opioid addiction caused by the same doctor that was supposed to cure you...
Sorry but if she worked for Pence Theres zero chance she's any good!
Can you please bring your America First ideas up to date with the vast majority of the democratic societies on this planet and find ways to insure everyone as a right rather than viewing health care as a privilege only to be given to those that have the money to get it? Everyone from the president to the poorest homeless person deserves the same quality of care. Enough already
Verma may seem to be qualified for this position, but she has a record of rolling out state medicaid policies that punish the poor, who are in greatest need of assistance. Health savings accounts are a grossly inadequate "solution" to health care, and would likely do more for the very wealthy, who could use them as domestic tax havens. The poor, meanwhile, will not have anything to save.
I cannot understand why we can't have single payer. Is it because GOP is in bed with insurance companies?
2% of money you don't have in the first place is pretty hard to work with. She is a bad choice and has bad ideas. But I know you will vote for her any way. I am so disappointed in you and hate to have to admit I voted for you in the past. At least I will admit to my mistakes!
As if my opinion counts... No.
Absolute no on Varma. Her history is one of punitive policies and policies which punish the poor. She would not commit to not converting to Medicaid block grants. Block grants would severely impact Medicaid's federal funding. You need to poll your constituency because your priorities with this nomination and Trumpcare are NOT in line with what they want. We are many. We are Indivisible. And we will not tolerate this victimization of the American people. We will not forget.