Seema Verma, the Trump-appointed head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), admonished Medicare for All and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) after his victory in the Nevada caucuses.
Is the government to blame for healthcare problems?
Verma, who regularly speaks at healthcare events representing the White House’s position on healthcare reform, spoke at the National Association of Healthcare Underwriters Capitol Conference in February.
In reference to Sanders and his cornerstone campaign platform of Medicare for All, she said, “Some want to eradicate private health insurance and hand the reins over to the government.”
Verma acknowledged that increasing drug prices in the U.S. are a problem, but doesn’t believe government involvement is the solution: “So-called solutions like Medicare for All and the public option fail because in calling for yet more government to solve our problems, they ignore the role government has played in creating them.”
Medicare for All vs. the public option
Medicare for All, as explained by supporters like Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MD), would cover every American by placing higher taxes on the country’s wealthiest Americans and businesses, with no individual out-of-pocket costs.
The public option—supported by former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg—would allow individuals and employers to buy a Medicare plan.
Of the public option, Verma said, “Make no mistake, the public option is a Trojan horse with a single payer hiding inside.”
Verma’s position on Medicare Advantage
Seema Verma herself has been a proponent of allowing private Medicare Advantage plans the opportunity to offer more supplemental health benefits.
At a conference for the American Medical Association (AMA), Verma said, “Last year, Medicare started paying for virtual visits, so a patient can check in with their doctor by phone or video. In Medicare Advantage, we instituted historic reforms to strengthen competition. The result was 1,200 new plans added over two years with exciting new benefits.”
These plans can expand their benefits easily as they are sold to beneficiaries by private insurance companies. According to Verma, this creates healthy competition to increase benefits and drive down prices.
“This is why I’m always very concerned that we’re hearing conversations about more government, about Medicare for All.” she said. “I think those kinds of things are very scary to me.”