By Jon Reid
March 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm ET
The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday voted along party lines to advance the nomination of Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the nation’s two largest government health programs.
The committee advanced Verma’s nomination as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a 13-12 vote. (The committee vote was initially scheduled for Wednesday, but resulted in a tie because several Republicans were absent.)
If confirmed by the full Senate, Verma is expected to play an influential role in the GOP’s effort to reform both entitlement programs. During her confirmation hearing last month, Verma declined to weigh in on Republican proposals to cut Medicaid spending by changing the funding mechanism for states to block grants or per capita caps.
As a health policy consultant, Verma contracted with several states to reform their Medicaid programs. She worked with then-Gov. Mike Pence on Indiana’s Medicaid expansion, which requires enrollees to contribute monthly payments to savings accounts. Democrats have raised conflict-of-interest questions related to her work with states and private companies involved in Medicaid.
Her confirmation by the Senate is likely, given Republicans’ 52-48 majority.