Trump Nominee Says Medicaid Needs Overhaul

Medicaid requires an overhaul but Medicare should not be turned into a voucher plan, Seema Verma, the president's nominee to head the programs, told the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.

At the nomination hearing, the Indiana health care consultant provided some answers but also deflected many questions, the Associated Press reported.

The hearing was "a missed opportunity for the nominee," said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the panel. Most Republicans praised Verma's performance, but two GOP senators expressed concern that overhauling Medicaid could leave tens of thousands of people in their states uninsured.

Verma designed a Medicaid expansion plan for Indiana when Vice President Mike Pence was governor of the state.

If confirmed to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Verma would be in charge of an $1 trillion agency with nearly 6,500 staff that provides coverage for more than 70 million low-income people, or about 1 in 3 Americans, the AP reported.

Republicans want to cap federal financing and give control of Medicaid to the states. When asked whether she supported capping the program and turning it into a block grant, Verma stopped just short of endorsement, the AP reported.

"The status quo is not acceptable," she said of Medicaid. "We can do a better job ... we know we are not delivering great health outcomes."

Even though prominent Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and health secretary Tom Price advocate a voucher program for Medicare, Verma said she does not support such a plan.

She evaded questions on some other topics, such as whether she is in favor of Medicare negotiating drug prices directly with manufacturers, the AP reported.

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