Seema Verma Goes to Washington

Seema Verma, the designee for Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), appeared before the Senate Finance Committee yesterday for her confirmation hearing (watch HAN’s What to Expect in 2017 video for more information about Verma!). Like most confirmation hearings, topics were wide-ranging, from electronic health records, Medicare Advantage, to rural and critical access hospital issues.

Verma’s answers, as is the case for most nominees during confirmation hearings, were somewhat vague. Nominees do not want to be pinned to specific policy options until they can find their new offices. It was clear that the contractor who engineered Healthy Indiana 2.0, Indiana’s Medicaid expansion plan, was more comfortable discussing Medicaid topics than Medicare. Several Medicare policy areas she did speak strongly about were preventing fraud and abusing being a “top priority” for the Medicare program, that she does not support turning Medicare into a voucher program, and including rural providers in the development of policies and regulations. Throughout the hearing, Verma repeated several themes that define her philosophy of healthcare policy that would carry over to her role leading CMS:

“Patients and their doctors should be making decisions about their health care, not the federal government.”

“I will work with the CMS team to ensure that the programs are focused on achieving positive outcomes and to improve the health of the people we serve.”

“I will work toward policies that foster patient-centered care approaches that increase competition, quality, and access while driving down costs.”

We’ll keep you posted on Verma’s progress through her nomination!