Last Thursday President Trump’s nominee to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, testified for nearly three hours before the Senate Finance Committee. Overall, Ms. Verma appeared to answer questions from the committee with great confidence with her ideas about the future of healthcare in the United States.
Verma led Medicaid reform in Indiana under the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 which implemented Medicaid expansion to Indiana residents. In addition to her experience in Indiana, she has assisted and consulted multiple other states on health programs.
During the hearing Sen. Mike Enzi brought up the competitive bidding program and how Medicare has impacted beneficiares saying:
“When I met with you, I also talked about Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program and we talked about some of the unique challenges of rural and frontier states. I want to know if you’ll be willing to continue to have a dialogue about how that competitive bidding process can ensure that people actually get what they think they’re getting and what we think that we’re buying.
In your views, is it going to be important for CMS to look at avoiding putting in place the one-size- fits-all programs?”
“I think that’s absolutely critical as I said. You know, working for states when I see that they are all different, their delivery systems are different, their patient population is potentially different and so federal one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work.
And I think what you’re bringing up in terms of the competitive bidding is an excellent example where, you know, we’ve got some providers are being paid — they’re rural providers but they’re being paid at a rate that’s more, you know, that’s more appropriate for an urban area.
And so I think that’s the type of policy where, you know, understanding how that’s going to impact our rural provider or frontier provider on the frontend and having that discussions so that we’re not having problems later on down the line.
And if we are having issues and we need to be responsive to that because we want to make sure that we are impacting beneficiary access and that seniors and other folks that depend on CMS programs always have high quality care and that they have accessibility.
We don’t want to see that our policies and our programs are actually preventing providers, that we’re losing providers and that they don’t want to see Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries anymore. So we’ll be very careful with policies so that we’re not pushing providers out of the system but that we’re actually attracting providers to the program.”
Verma’s comments specifically about the competitive bidding program is an extremely positive sign that the incoming administration understands the threat that DME providers are facing in both urban and rural America.
The Senate Finance Committee is expected to move forward with her nomination and the full Senate will take a vote on Ms. Verma in the near future.