Trump's CMS pick can expect tough choices: predecessors

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Verma worked closely with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on expanding Medicaid in Indiana.
Verma worked closely with Vice President-elect Mike Pence on expanding Medicaid in Indiana.

President-elect Donald Trump's choice to run the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, was praised by providers. But she will face tough choices immediately, a previous CMS administrator predicted.

Verma, president and CEO of SVC Inc., an Indiana-based consultancy firm, was praised for her “dedication and creativity to improving our healthcare system” by Zach Cattell, president of the Indiana Health Care Association. 

But Thomas Scully, a CMS administrator under George W. Bush, warned Verma will be overseeing long-term care's two biggest payors while a “complete and total policy war” takes place in Congress.

Scully and two other former CMS officials, speaking at a forum, predicted the CMS Innovation Center will not be as quick to be cut under the Trump administration as many have predicted.

“Republicans may not have liked it because they didn't like who was controlling it,” said Leslie Norwalk, a CMS acting administrator during the younger Bush's presidency. “But they may change their minds when they see the concepts that CMS is testing.”

Scully noted that many of the center's programs “are things that Republicans have been pushing for years.”

Before becoming administrator, Verma must pass Senate confirmation hearings.