Trump pick Seema Verma meets lawmakers

Seema Verma
Seema Verma

WASHINGTON: Indian-American Seema Verma, a nominee for a top health position in the incoming Trump administration and seen as key to replacing Obamacare, has met top US lawmakers ahead of her confirmation hearing.

Verma, from Indianapolis, is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to become the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“I had an excellent meeting this morning with Seema Verma, and I look forward to working together as she leads CMS, an agency with an annual budget of nearly a trillion dollars,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

In this capacity, she will oversee two of the largest channels of federal spending – Medicare and Medicaid, he said.

“She will have an opportunity to change the direction of the agency to be more responsive to state requests for flexibility and innovation as Congress and the President move more healthcare decisions out of Washington and back to states,” Alexander said.

Speaking on the Senate Floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also praised Verma for her potential role in replacing Obamacare, the signature healthcare initiative of the outgoing US President, Barack Obama.

In his remarks immediately after the Senate passed legislative tools needed to repeal and replace Obamacare, McConnell said the repeal legislation will include a stable transition period “as we work toward patient-centered health care”.

“There are other steps we can take too, including important administrative steps like confirming Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Seema Verma as CMS Administrator. They can start stabilizing the health insurance markets that Obamacare has thrown into turmoil, and they can start bringing relief to the American people,” McConnell said.

“Repealing and replacing Obamacare is a big challenge. It isn’t going to be easy. Nonetheless, we’re committed to fulfilling our promise to the American people – and we will – said the Senate Majority Leader.

Meanwhile, a trade magazine, Internal Medicine News, said big changes could be in store for the Medicaid program under leadership of Verma.

“What the new nominee says to me is that there is going to be a very high priority placed upon working with states, working with governors to modify Medicaid programs and to shape them to meet different state priorities,” Jonathan D Blum, former principal deputy administrator of the CMS under President Barack Obama was quoted as saying by the magazine.

At a recent conference of American Bar Association, Blum said he believes a top priority for Verma will be limiting the disruption that could come if the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is repealed, and finding ways to cover those who lose coverage. -PTI

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