March 03, 2017

Senate Finance Committee Approves CMS Nominee

On March 2, the Senate Finance Committee voted 13-12 in favor of Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Finance Committee’s approval of Verma’s nomination fell along party lines. It now allows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to schedule a vote in the full Senate for Verma’s final confirmation in the near future. An affirmative vote is widely expected.

Regarded as one of the foremost experts in applying conservative policies within state Medicaid policy, Verma is a relative newcomer to federal politics. As founder and CEO of SVC Inc., a strategic health care policy consulting firm, she is best known for assisting then Gov. Mike Pence and his administration expand Medicaid coverage in Indiana as permitted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). SVC Inc. has consulted with numerous other Republican-led states including Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and South Carolina on Medicaid Section 1151 waivers and Medicaid expansion.

While Republicans overwhelmingly supported her nomination, Finance Committee Democrats felt that Verma’s oral and written answers to various questions were insufficient for determining if she is qualified to serve as CMS administrator. In particular, before voting against her nomination, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) expressed doubt about Verma’s understanding of Medicare policy. In general, Democrats are worried that her experience is too slanted toward Medicaid.

ACR will continue to provide additional coverage of Verma’s confirmation process via Advocacy in Action eNews as it moves toward a final Senate vote.