The Senate Finance Committee March 2 voted 13-12 along party lines to advance Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator nominee Seema Verma to the full Senate for consideration.
The final vote was delayed after the panel was initially split 9-9 on the nomination, counting only those members who were present at the March 1 markup. Including votes cast by proxy, the tally was 15-11. The vote was split nearly along party lines, with the only exception being Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who initially voted in support of Verma.
In his opening statement, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) voiced his support of Verma, noting, “If we’re going to make the needed changes to fix our healthcare system, we need competent and willing partners at CMS who will work with Congress to find the best solutions and then effectively implement those solutions.” Chairman Hatch also commended his colleagues “for what has generally been a smooth process for this nomination” and encouraged bipartisan support.
However, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) stated his concern about the answers Verma provided during her Feb. 17 confirmation hearing [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 17]. Sen. Wyden stated, “Without any clear indication what her own views are, what I’m left to conclude is that Ms. Verma shares the views of many in her party, including her new boss if she is confirmed, Secretary Tom Price. Their proposals say that Medicare’s guarantee of defined health benefits should be ended, that Medicaid should be cut to the bone, and that insurance companies should be put in charge and allowed to use loopholes to once again discriminate against people with expensive pre-existing conditions.”