Senate confirms Seema Verma as CMS administrator

A president's cabinet takes shape

Seema Verma, shown above in a screen capture from a hearing video, received the support of all Republicans who voted. (Photo: Senate Finance) Seema Verma, shown above in a screen capture from a hearing video, received the support of all Republicans who voted. (Photo: Senate Finance)

Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act public exchange system now have a boss.

Members of the Senate voted 55-43 Monday for confirm Seema Verma as President Donald Trump's administration of the Centers for Medicare & Services.

Related: Democrat asks for CMS pick's views on Medicare

Verma has been a health programs consultant in Carmel, Indiana, for 16 years. She is best known as the creator of an Indiana program that offers moderate-income Medicaid enrollees access to accounts resembling health reimbursement arrangements.

All Republicans who voted supported Verma's nomination.

Three Democrats, and Angus King, a Maine independent who normally sides with the Democrats, crossed the aisle to vote for Verma.

The three Democrats who voted for Verma were Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly, one of Indiana's senators.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, spoke on Verma's behalf on the Senate floor.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., complained about Verma's vague answers to health policy questions. He also tried to link her to the House Republicans' American Health Care Act proposal for de-funding the Affordable Care Act, and to future "TrumpCare" raids on Medicaid.

"I am unable to support this nomination," Wyden said.

But Verma seemed to arouse little of the kind of fury that met some of Trump's other nominees, such as Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Dr. Patrick Conway, a pediatrician who has been serving as the chief medical officer at CMS since 2011, has been serving as the acting CMS administrator.

The previous long-term CMS chief was Andy Slavitt, a former UnitedHealth Group veteran who serving as the acting CMS administrator from March 2015 through January 2017.

Slavitt succeeded Marilyn Tavenner, a nurse. Tavenner left CMS to become the president of America's Health Insurance Plans.

Related:

Senate prepares to hear Seema Verma, Trump's ACA boss pick

Senate confirms Price as health secretary as ACA fight nears

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