When members of the Senate Finance Committee voted Thursday, entirely along party lines, to back Seema Verma, they set her up to be the obvious fall gal for problems with the U.S. long-term care finance system.
Verma is on track to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for President Donald Trump. As head of CMS, she will, in effect, be the chief operating officer for the Medicaid nursing home benefits, and of Medicare home health care programs. When poor elderly people lack the ability to find and pay for much-needed long-term care services, and the quality of the services provided is poor, Verma will likely be the one called to Capitol Hill to testify.
But there are other top officials in Trump’s administration who ought to recognize that they share about as much responsibility for this issue as Verma.
The Senate voted to confirm Dr. Ben Carson, a brain surgery professor and former presidential candidate, as secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Elaine Chao was confirmed as Transportation secretary Jan. 31; Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury secretary Feb. 2; Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon, as Health and Human Services secretary Feb. 8; and David Shulkin, a psychiatrist, as Veterans Affairs secretary Feb. 13.
R. Alexander Acosta, who helped the U.S. Department of Justice set up its health care fraud-fighting team in Miami, could be the next Labor secretary.
They all need to recognize that the silver tsunami is their tsunami.
HUD has an obvious role in paying for the construction of housing for older people, efforts to renovate existing buildings to meet the needs of older people, and changing laws, regulations and traditions in an effort to come up with new ways to meet older people’s housing and care needs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has to find ways to keep loss of the ability to drive a car from pushing otherwise active, able-bodied older people into long-term care facilities.