The federal agency that oversees two of our nation’s most sacred health care programs is waiting for its new Administrator – and she cannot come soon enough. At a critical time for our country’s health care system, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) needs a steady leader who will take a thoughtful approach to complex issues. As the nation’s largest association representing America’s nursing centers and assisted living communities, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living has a unique perspective on the awesome impact Medicare and Medicaid have on our seniors and individuals with disabilities. So does Seema Verma, the Administration’s nominee for CMS Administrator. She has the experience, expertise, and commitment that make her the ideal choice to head this crucial federal agency.
In our long-term and post-acute care centers, nothing is more reaffirming than helping a senior on Medicare return home after receiving life-improving therapy, or live out their remainder of their days with dignity thanks to Medicaid. Ms. Verma appreciates that many of the 100 million people who rely on the programs that CMS oversees are our nation’s most vulnerable, and their ability to receive quality health care has the highest stakes. That’s because she has worked on the frontlines, fighting for greater access to and better quality of care. Her deep understanding of every level of health policy means she knows how to encourage providers to be at their best for their patients. This ability to understand the perspectives of both patients and providers is one of the reasons why Ms. Verma is an ideal choice to head CMS.
CMS needs an administrator that will focus on the work at-hand, regardless of political party. As the president and CEO of SVC, the national health policy consulting company she founded, Ms. Verma often works in a bipartisan fashion even while spearheading extremely complex health care policy. In Indiana—working with her and former Governor Mitch Daniels—we saw firsthand her ability to bring together a variety of stakeholders to create the Healthy Indiana Plan, the nation’s first consumer directed Medicaid program. Her collaborative approach in tackling challenging issues demonstrates her devotion to the work and a duty to service. Bipartisanship is desperately needed in Washington, and Ms. Verma is determined to find creative solutions across party lines.
Lastly, CMS needs an administrator with the experience required to run a one trillion-dollar agency. For the past 20 years, Ms. Verma’s passion has been finding ways to foster patient-centered care that improves quality while reducing costs. Not only did she conceive the Healthy Indiana Plan, but she has extensive experience redesigning several states’ Medicaid programs. As we face another potential overhaul of our health care system, Ms. Verma’s deep knowledge of the various intricacies of the health care market will be an invaluable asset at the federal level.
We come from a profession that serves nearly 5 million Americans every year—many of whom rely on Medicare, Medicaid or both for their care. We are dedicated to improving lives by delivering solutions for quality care. Ms. Verma is a solution-seeker, and we look forward to working with her to enhance our health care system – including long-term and post-acute care. She brings experience with complex health care policy, a commitment to improve care while finding efficiencies, and a collaborative approach needed in today’s political environment. We urge the Senate to confirm her nomination straightaway, so we can continue to effectively provide the highest quality care.
Mark Parkinson is the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and Scott Tittle is the executive director of AHCA’s National Center for Assisted Living. The association represents more than 13,000 skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, and homes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Tittle was also the health policy director for former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.