Thursday, March 9, 2017
Seema Verma (soon to be head of CMS Medicare) would hold Medicaid recipients accountable.
Donald Trump Medicaid: Seema Verma, Patient Responsibility | Time.com
Seema Verma, President Trump’s pick to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, sees things the same way. Verma, a health policy consultant, helped to reform Indiana’s Medicaid program, working with then-Gov. Mike Pence. With an eye toward competition and personal responsibility, her program, known as Healthy Indiana Plan, mandated monthly contributions from beneficiaries, even individuals at the federal poverty line. There were stiff penalties for missed payments: termination of coverage or transfer to a pared-down plan that offered limited services.
Verma has written that personal contributions are a way for Medicaid recipients to have “skin in the game.” She has said that traditional Medicaid regulations “disempower individuals from taking responsibility for their health, allow utilization of services without regard for the public cost, and foster dependency.”
Verma founded the health policy consulting firm SVC Inc. in June 2001. She is president and CEO of the company, which has worked with the states of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. In preparation for the implementation of Obamacare, Verma and SVC Inc. have worked with state insurance agencies and public health agencies to redesign their Medicaid programs. She developed Medicaid reform programs, including waivers, for Ohio, Kentucky, and Iowa. Her firm provided technical assistance to the state of Michigan in the implementation of their Section 1115 Medicaid waiver. SVC also assisted Tennessee in their coverage expansion proposal and supported Iowa's Medicaid transition to managed care.
Following the passage of Obamacare, Verma worked with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels on health care policy. She was the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan. The health insurance program, designed for people with low income, requires participants to pay into a health savings account and has high deductibles. According to Verma, "you have to make your contribution every month, with a 60-day grace period. If you don't make the contribution, you're out of the program for 12 months. It's a strong personal responsibility mechanism." The Healthy Indiana Plan received support from the Indiana legislature and passed into law in January 2008. She later created the related "HIP 2.0" under Governor Mike Pence.
In 2014, an article in The Indianapolis Star raised concerns over a potential conflict of interest arising from Verma's dual roles as both a health care consultant for Indiana and an employee of a Hewlett-Packard division that is among Indiana's largest Medicaid vendors. As of 2014, SVC Inc. had been awarded over $3.5 million in Indiana state contracts. Verma was concurrently employed with Hewlett-Packard, earning over $1 million during a period when the company had secured $500 million in state contracts.