In March, Verma was sworn in as the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In this role, she runs the two programs that provide the most health care to women of all ages, working closely with the notoriously anti-women secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price. In fact, Trump has called Price and Verma “the dream team.”
Though she’s only held the position for four months, Verma’s plans for Medicare and Medicaid are clear. Spoiler alert: They’re devastating and anti-women. This is especially concerning since one out of every five American women of reproductive age relies on Medicaid for access to cancer screenings, birth control, and more.
And with Trump and Price threatening to dump the Affordable Care Act (ACA) birth control benefit (which gave more than 55 million of women access to no-charge birth control) any day now, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on what Verma’s up to.
Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know about this anti-women Trump administration official.
1. She’s tight with Mike Pence
Verma and the vice president — who has often expressed his desire to “defund” Planned Parenthood — have a history.
A former health care consultant, Verma helped then-Indiana governor Mike Pence craft a Medicaid program in 2014 called Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 (HIP 2.0), which unfairly puts restrictions on Hoosiers with low incomes.
The HIP 2.0 program makes participants put monthly fees in a savings account (which doesn’t even go toward copays for most participants). This means that systematically disadvantaged folks who are struggling to make ends meet are forced to pay up every month, just to keep getting basic health care.
And it gets even more condescending. Verma believes this program would teach folks with low incomes to take “personal responsibility.” Translation: Low-income families would be forced to choose between getting critical health care and paying their other bills.
It’s not surprising that Verma’s role in Indiana’s disastrous Medicaid plan pleased Pence so much, he presented her with an award for it last year.
2. She wants to destroy Obamacare
Besides working with Pence to undermine Obamacare in Indiana, Verma’s done the same thing in other states, too. In Kentucky, she proposed a work requirement that requires folks on Medicaid to work or volunteer for at least 20 hours a week — or risk losing their health care.
And in March, Verma sent a letter to governors about “improving Medicaid.” But when you read between the lines, her true intentions become clear. Verma wants to let states charge folks with low incomes for their coverage, and cut them from coverage if they’re not working. (Of course, the letter was also signed by Tom Price.)
Verma is doing everything she can to make life more difficult for the most vulnerable people across the country. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that her own husband, an Indiana doctor, doesn’t accept Medicaid at his practice.
3. She’s anti-women and anti-Planned Parenthood
Verma is yet another out-of-touch, anti-women member of the failing Trump administration.
In April, Trump signed a bill allowing states to “defund” Planned Parenthood. Verma described this devastating legislation as “an important step.”
And in February, Verma stated that maternity coverage should be optional. “Some women might not choose that...some women might not want that,” she said.
In her ideal world, providers would charge extra for women who wanted to include maternity coverage on their plans. Meanwhile, the U.S. remains the only industrialized country without paid family leave.
4. She’s part of Trump’s swamp
Trump assembled a swampy cabinet full of millionaires and billionaires, with an estimated net worth of over $11 billion. And like his other appointees, Seema Verma is no exception.
A 2014 report shows that Verma and her consulting firm, SVC, Inc., received at least $3.5 million from her work in Indiana alone. That means Verma has probably racked up millions of dollars as president and owner of the corporation for over a decade and a half.
And just like almost everyone else in Trump’s cabinet, Verma has seen her own conflicts of interest.
While working for the state of Indiana, Verma was also working for one of the state’s largest Medicaid vendors, a division of Hewlett-Packard, at the same time. The corporation paid her more than $1 million and received more than $500 million in state contracts, according to reports.
And it gets worse...
As you read this, Verma is sitting on a decision that could have a disastrous effect on thousands of women in the state of Texas.
In July, extreme Texas Republicans sent the Trump administration a dastardly proposal, in which they ask for federal support for a failing family planning program that excludes Planned Parenthood.
This program — called “Healthy Texas Women” — resulted in as many as 45,000 Texan women losing access to care at Planned Parenthood, and more than 39,000 women losing access to contraceptives. Meanwhile, Texas’s maternal mortality rate doubled.
As CMS administrator, Verma gets to decide if federal taxpayer dollars should support this failed program, which would open the floodgates for other states to follow suit. And Verma could release her decision any day now.