UPDATE: The Senate Finance Committee advanced Seema Verma's CMS administrator nomination in a 13-12 vote on Thursday.
President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the CMS, Seema Verma, will get another confirmation vote in the Senate Finance Committee today after the original vote Wednesday resulted in a 9-9 tie.
Several senators were not at the vote because of other Senate business. With proxy votes, Verma received a favorable vote of 15 to 11, but those votes aren’t counted.
On Wednesday, Brian Neale was named the new director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Modern Healthcare reported. Neale was healthcare policy director for Vice President Mike Pence when Pence was governor of Indiana.
The hiccup in Verma’s nomination vote is not expected to derail her eventual confirmation, despite Democrats saying she has not given direct enough answers on how she views conservative proposals such as block granting Medicaid or turning Medicare into a premium support system.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he had only heard “happy-talk that didn’t amount to much substance.”
Although relatively inexperienced with Medicare issues, Verma helped create Indiana’s Medicaid expansion model and advised Tennessee and Michigan on their plans. The Indiana plan uses popular conservative health policy ideas such as a heavy reliance on health savings plans and a benefit lock-out for unpaid premiums.
Verma and Neale wrote in a highly read Health Affairs blog post from August that states should have more leeway in running their Medicaid programs.
“Enhancing state flexibility, particularly with respect to the low-income, able-bodied population, can help cultivate further state innovation, leading to a stronger and more effective Medicaid program,” they wrote.