News of HHS, CMS nominees gets warm reception from senior living groups

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Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is President-elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for HHS secretary.
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is President-elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for HHS secretary.

Organizations representing senior living providers said Tuesday that they look forward to working with President-elect Donald J. Trump's choices to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, maintaining that both understand the issues confronting older adults and those who care for and serve them.

Trump announced his picks — Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as HHS secretary and health policy consultant Seema Verma as CMS administrator — on Tuesday.

“We're excited about the announcement that the president-elect has made,” Clif Porter II, senior vice president for government affairs at the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said in a call with reporters. “We feel that both of these nominees will be proactive voices that, most importantly, understand the healthcare system.”

Price's 20 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon means that he “understands at a great level of detail what's required to deliver quality outcomes,” Porter added.

With his medical background and service in the House of Representatives, where he is chairman of the House Budget Committee and a member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, Price “brings expertise and familiarity with issues facing America's seniors and their families,” said Maribeth Bersani, chief operating officer and senior vice president of public policy for Argentum.

Noting that Price recently introduced a fiscal 2017 budget resolution to repeal the Affordable Care Act and revamp the Medicare and Medicaid programs, LeadingAge said that those efforts likely would be his priorities as HHS secretary if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate. “Rep. Price also is known for his anti-regulatory views and introduced bipartisan legislation that we support to delay the ‘pre-review' process for home health claims pending a comprehensive review by HHS of the potential impact,” the organization said in a statement.

AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson called Price “a champion of forward-thinking ideas that improve lives and deliver solutions.” The congressman, he added, “is known throughout the country not only for his medical expertise but also his breadth of policy when it comes to the nation's healthcare system.”

Verma is founder and president of SVC Consultants, a national health policy consulting company based in Indianapolis. Her biography on the company website indicates that she has “extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs in several states,” including Indiana, where she worked with Gov. Mike Pence, who is vice president-elect. She is the former vice president of planning for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indianapolis, and a former director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials in Washington, D.C.

NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle said he worked closely with Verma when he was employed by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and then at the Indiana Health Care Association, where Tittle was state executive.

“She has always demonstrated a very thoughtful and collaborative approach to complex healthcare policy, and I'm excited to see my friend and fellow Hoosier bring this approach to the national level,” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work together as we strive to ensure a robust Medicaid program that works for providers and beneficiaries alike.”

Bersani said that Verma “has experience working with vulnerable populations and a deep familiarity with challenges and opportunities surrounding Medicaid, home- and community-based services and our nation's aging seniors.”

The nominee, if confirmed, will “bring a smart, fresh perspective” to her role, Parkinson said.

Regarding both Price and Verma, LeadingAge said it “has developed a list of regulatory, executive and legislative changes that we hope the new administration will consider, and plan to present to the transition team at the earliest possible opportunity. We are open to see how they approach policy and the issues that are so important to our members.”

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