President Donald Trump has nominated Verma to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act public exchange plan program.
Wyden, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, objected to her answers so far at a committee vote on her nomination.
Verma is a health care consultant who has helped Indiana and other states set up managed Medicaid programs that incorporate health reimbursement arrangements.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the committee chairman, said Verma is highly qualified to run CMS.
“I don’t think anyone doubts that,” Hatch said at the hearing, which was streamed live on the web. A recording of the hearing is available on the committee’s website.
Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said nothing about Verma’s qualifications.
But Wyden said he has concerns about the fact that Verma’s firm sold services to companies like Milliman while the Medicaid program she was building purchased services from those firms for the state of Indiana.
Verma did comply with Indiana’s conflict-of-interest rules, because she disclosed her firm’s business relationships, and because she always worked as a consultant, not as a state employee, Wyden said. Wyden said he believes that Indiana should have applied tougher conflict-of-interest rules to a long-term consultant like Verma.
Wyden was critical about Verma’s answers to Democrats’ questions about her ideas about Medicare.