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Seema Verma

Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (HHS)

Nominated by Trump: 11-29-2016

Who is Seema Verma?

Since Seema Verma was sworn in as the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in March 2017, she has tried to undermine the very things she’s in charge of running. Verma runs federal health programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That means Verma oversees health care for more than 130 million Americans. In her role, Verma is working closely with Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to unravel the ACA, as well as push work requirements and other restrictions to take away people’s Medicaid coverage. Throughout her career, Verma has designed roadblocks to health care coverage for people with low incomes. That includes helping Mike Pence dismantle Medicaid in Indiana; Verma is now known as Pence’s protégé.

When asked if maternity coverage should continue to be required in insurance plans or if women should pay extra for it, Seema Verma said it should be optional for insurers because: “Some women might not want that.”

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Here is what Seema Verma controls

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CMS oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), providing health care for one in four Americans. CMS also is responsible for managing HealthCare.gov, as well as health care privacy and certain nationwide provider quality standards.

Related Policies


The Health Agenda

Birth Control Coverage

Abortion Coverage

Planned Parenthood

Title X

Refusal Policies

Background on Seema Verma

Doesn’t Support Guaranteed Maternity Coverage

Verma believes maternity coverage should be optional for insurers, and insurers should be able to charge extra for it in their plans. However, treating maternity coverage as an add-on would make plans that include it less affordable and could have negative consequences for women with low incomes, particularly in cases of unplanned pregnancies.

Scary Mommy
Not Heeding Warnings About Taking Away People’s Coverage

Seema Verma ignored a congressional advisory committee’s warnings that her policies on Medicaid, Medicare and the ACA will force people to lose health care coverage and pay more for health care services out-of-pocket — or not get care at all.

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families
Pushing Tedious, Unprecedented Work Requirements

Work requirements make people with Medicaid work a certain number of hours per month and regularly report their activities — or else lose their coverage. In January 2018, Seema Verma gave Kentucky permission to impose onerous work requirements for Medicaid. It was the first time CMS let a state make such a move since Medicaid started in 1965. Experts estimated that at least 95,000 Kentuckians would lose Medicaid. A large handful of other states followed Kentucky’s lead by submitting requests to CMS to impose Medicaid work requirements; CMS has approved several and is expected to approve more.

The Atlantic
Planning to Dismantle Medicaid Early On

Her first day in office, Seema Verma sent a letter to governors saying she planned to let states charge people with low incomes for Medicaid coverage and cut them from coverage if they’re not working.

Washington Post
Buddy-Buddy with Mike Pence

Seema Verma is extremely tight with Vice President Mike Pence, who urged President Trump to appoint her to head up the CMS. Veema worked so closely and so well with Pence when he was the governor of Indiana that he presented her with an award for her work.

Indiana Abroad
Limiting Health Care Access for Women of Color with Low Incomes

Seema Verma’s position of power and anti-women’s health stance will affect a lot of women — including a disproportionate share of women of color, who use public programs more often due to systemic racism and barriers to health care. Medicare and Medicaid are the two programs that provide the most health care to women of all ages. One out of every five American women of reproductive age uses Medicaid for access to primary and reproductive health care, including cancer screenings, birth control, and maternity care.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Using Millions of Taxpayer Dollars to Make Her Look Good

Seema Verma used millions of federal funds to hire external Republican communications consultants to bolster her public image. Traditionally, CMS only used consultants for advertising open enrollment nationwide — but Verma made millions of dollars of cuts to those initiatives.

Emboldening States to ‘Defund’ Planned Parenthood and Exclude It from Medicaid

Under Seema Verma’s direction, CMS rescinded Obama-era guidance, which had made clear that people have the right to use their Medicaid coverage to access preventive care at the provider of their choice, including Planned Parenthood health centers. Now, CMS is emboldening state Medicaid directors to try to exclude Planned Parenthood from Medicaid reimbursement for preventive care services. Texas asked CMS for federal funding to continue such a program, which already resulted in more than 39,000 women losing access to contraceptives. As CMS administrator, Verma gets to decide if taxpayer dollars should support Texas’ failed program and potentially open the floodgates for other states to follow suit.

Health Affairs
Anti-Planned Parenthood Messaging

Seema Verma once said it’s “an important step” to “defund” Planned Parenthood and block patients who rely on federal programs (like Medicaid) from preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Preventive care includes birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD tests and treatment, and treatment for UTIs and vaginal infections.

Planned Parenthood Action Blog
Thousands of Indianans Lost Medicaid Under Verma’s Policies

Seema Verma is the architect of Mike Pence's signature health care plan when he was governor of Indiana. The Medicaid program that she helped Pence craft in 2014 increased health care costs for Indianans with low incomes. From 2015 to 2017, about 25,000 Indianans lost access to Medicaid — about one-third of those eligible for the program. While experts described the plan as putting people who were struggling to get by at further disadvantage, Verma said she believed poor people need to learn “personal responsibility” and her program would “help” them. Verma now plays a role in how every state administers Medicaid.

Kaiser Health News