Seema Verma, President Trump’s pick for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, is expected to soon to be approved by the Office of Government Ethics, which would in turn bring her nomination closer to Senate consideration, according to a CQ Roll Call report.
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson told the policy news outlet that the Office of Government Ethics agreement would address “all potential conflict issues.” The report further stated, “These agreements are a routine step in the vetting of people who serve in top federal posts, as they often have connections to firms and government agencies in their field of expertise. It’s possible that Verma’s agreement will address her widespread contacts with states from her work as a Medicaid consultant. She listed South Carolina, Maine, Nebraska, Iowa and Idaho as her clients while testifying in 2013 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health panel. The website for her Indianapolis-based firm, SVC Inc., also lists Ohio and Kentucky as her clients.”
As Healthcare Informatics reported shortly after President Trump announced her nomination, Verma worked in Indiana first with former Gov. Mitch Daniels, and then Gov. Mike Pence, now the nation’s vice president, on healthcare policy following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She was an architect behind the Healthy Indiana Plan, an insurance program that was designed for people with low incomes that requires participants to pay minimal monthly contributions based on their incomes. This sparked some controversy, as the requirement of the poor to pay even small monthly fees to remain eligible for healthcare services has been considered by Democrats to be unfair. Nonetheless, many Republican administrators applaud Verma for being able to put this plan in place under a Democratic healthcare law, Obamacare.
Meanwhile, Politico’s Morning eHealth report on Feb. 9 noted that a Senate vote on Rep. Tom Price's (R-Ga.) nomination for HHS Secretary is coming soon, by Friday at the latest. Price is likely to be approved despite Senate Democrats trying to stall the process. Last week, the Senate Finance Committee voted to advance Price’s nomination even though Democratic committee members boycotted the vote. In two Senate hearings recently, Senate Democrats repeatedly grilled Price regarding his investments in healthcare firms and his trading in healthcare stocks during his time in Congress. They have since said that they want more answers from Price regarding these stock trades before they vote.
Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.