Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)
President Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of HHS, Tom Price (R-GA), was confirmed on February 10, 2017, by a 52-47 Senate vote.
As a U.S. Representative, Tom Price had voted against the Affordable Care Act, and subsequently led efforts to repeal it. He also endorsed plans to limit the growth of Medicare and Medicaid through tax credits, use of health savings accounts, and federal funds for states to create high-risk pools to cover the very sick and those with pre-existing conditions.
In the past, Secretary Price has been a critic of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), but supported Medicaid Advantage plans that offer flexibility to design benefits that beneficiaries want.
It is not clear where Secretary Price stands on drug coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act or on allowing Medicare to negotiate prices directly with drug manufacturers.
Seema Verma, Administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
On February 16, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee held its first hearing on the nomination of Seema Verma for CMS Administrator.
Ms. Verma has been deemed the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) and the HIP 2.0 Medicaid waiver proposal. Notably, the HIP 2.0 program requires low-income members to pay nominal fees for the care they receive. Failure to pay fees can result in loss of coverage for health care services and a six-month lock-out for coverage eligibility. This is unlike the current policies in most states, where the poor are not required to pay at all.
Ms. Verma faced scrutiny based on reported conflict of interest when she and her firm contracted with states to consult on Medicaid programs while simultaneously working for Hewlett Packard. Hewlett Packard is reported as the nation’s largest operator of state Medicaid claims processing system. For that reason, allegations have been made that a conflict of interest arose when Hewlett Packard could benefit from state health care policies shaped by Ms. Verma in her consulting capacity to the states. During her last hearing, Ms. Verma discussed giving more autonomy to the States to overhaul their Medicaid programs.