Seema Verma is the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Due to this, she is a member of the task force formed by the Trump administration for the purpose of bringing COVID-19 under control, which has caused her to come under increased scrutiny in recent times. However, this isn't the first time that Verma's name has shown up in the news for less than flattering reasons.
1. Born in Portsmouth, VA
Verma was born in the city of Portsmouth in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the city's location is very well-suited for shipbuilding, which is something that was recognized as far back as 1620. As such, Portsmouth remains a center of shipbuilding in the United States, as shown by how its Norfolk Naval Shipyard is one of the very few places in the entire world with a dry dock that can accommodate an aircraft carrier.
2. Studied Life Sciences At University of Maryland, College Park
For her education, Verma went to the University of Maryland, College Park, which is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland. The school is famous for its research partnerships with the federal government. Something that can be explained by its proximity to the national capital as well as its excellence. In any case, Verma studied life sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, which can be considered one of the two major branches of the natural sciences.
3. Studied Public Health At Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Later, Verma went for a Master of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The institution started out as the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in 1916. However, it is now called the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health because Michael Bloomberg has donated $2.9 billion to the institution over the course of decades. Considering Verma's subsequent career, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that she specialized in health policy as well as healthcare management.
4. Founded the Consulting Firm SVC Inc.
In 2001, Verma founded a health policy consulting firm called SVC Inc. Said firm was involved in helping Republicans with Medicaid reform. For instance, Verma helped Mike Pence's predecessor in the position of Governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels implement a Medicaid that imposed deductibles as well as limited the enrollment of childless adults. Over time, she managed to attract other clients in other red states as well, with the result that she was quite influential by the time she was chosen to head up the CMS.
5. Alleged of Violating the Hatch Act
Since being named to her current position, Verma hasn't been hesitant about sharing her thoughts on Medicare and Medicaid reform. In particular, it is worth mentioning that she has been very vocal about her opposition to "Medicare for all," so much so that she was the subject of a complaint alleging that she had violated the Hatch Act. For the most part, the law is known for prohibiting most employees of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government from engaging in certain forms of political activity. Having said that, said complaint went nowhere because the Office of Special Counsel said that it had found insufficient evidence to support it.
6. Directed Millions to Republican Communications Consultants
In March of 2019, it was revealed that Verma had gone ahead with contracts with Republican communications consultants that were worth millions of dollars. Moreover, the contracts weren't meant to help out with the CMS's operations but instead meant to improve Verma's own public image.
7. Contracts Met with Internal Opposition
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the contracts are said to have met with internal opposition at the CMS. First, there are those who feel that the contracts cross ethical boundaries that shouldn't be crossed. Second, there are those who see the tasks requested of the Republican communications consultants as being pointless because Verma's position should be more than enough to secure her further opportunities for improving her personal image, particularly since the CMS has its own media staff. Third, there are those who are concerned that outsourcing communications could put the CMS's ability to protect "potentially market-moving" information from being revealed before the appropriate time at serious risk.
8. Caught Up in Infighting
The Trump administration has earned a reputation for infighting. Verma is one of the individuals who have been reported to engage in that kind of thing, with her counterpart being the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. Curiously, the two come from the same political circle, as shown by their overlapping political connections, but the two were never particularly close, which is something that has presumably contributed to the current state of things. In any case, some tension between their respective positions is expected in the normal course of things because the CMS possesses considerable autonomy in spite of falling under the Department of Health and Human Services. However, much of the rivalry seems to be fueled by who will get the credit for replacing Obamacare.
9. Asked Taxpayers to Reimburse Her For Stolen Possessions
In July of 2018, Verma had her bags stolen while she was giving a speech in San Francisco. As a result, she filed a $47,000 claim for jewelry, clothing, and other stolen property, with the result that she received $2,852.40 in reimbursement from the CMS. Most of the claim came from about two dozen pieces of jewelry, though there were some other notable items such as $325 for moisturizer and $349 for noise-canceling headphones.
10. Has Come Under Increased Scrutiny Because of COVID-19
Since Verma is a member of the Trump administration's COVID-19 task force, she has come under increased scrutiny. However, she has not managed to distinguish herself, as shown by how she ducked a question four times when asked whether there were enough I.C.U. units and other medical resources when she was interviewed on Fox News.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee