President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Seema Verma to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid has been largely overshadowed by his choice of Rep. Tom Price for director of the Department of Health and Human Services. But for those reading the tea leaves about the future of healthcare, especially the Affordable Care Act, Verma’s selection is well worth examining.
Verma, a healthcare consultant who runs a national health policy consulting company, has extensive experience with Medicaid. As president, CEO and founder of SVC, she was involved in expanding Medicaid in Indiana under then-Gov. Mike Pence, the Vice president-elect. SVC also assisted in formulating Medicaid expansion plans in Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Here are a few more things to know about her:
- She is an advocate of making patients more financially responsible for their healthcare, and supports freezing coverage for those who don’t pay their premiums, even those living below the poverty line.
- She worked across party lines to push the Pence administration’s positions into the Indiana Medicaid expansion, known as the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP.
- She supports requiring that Medicaid enrollees look for work, and that they reapply for coverage on time. Those who don’t, she maintains, could lose coverage for up to a year.
- Patient advocacy groups predict she may call for a replacement of the Affordable Care Act before agreeing to its repeal. Her potential push-back might help mitigate the loss of coverage for those who received coverage through Medicaid expansions in the ACA—about 12 million people.
- Indiana Rep. Charlie Brown, a Democrat, opposed many of Verma’s positions during debate over the Healthy Indiana Plan, but told National Public Radio that she is “a smooth operator, and very, very persuasive.”
- The Indianapolis Star reported in 2014 that Verma was paid millions by Indiana for her work on the Indiana Medicaid expansion, and was also paid by Medicaid vendor Hewlett-Packard, which was paid more than $500 million by the state.
- The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and America's Essential Hospitals support Verma’s nomination, which—like Price’s—must be approved by Senate.