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Seema Verma's first order of business: Boosting the Republican healthcare bill

In a newly created Twitter account, Verma pledges to "undo the damage" of the Affordable Care Act.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Seema Verma is a week into her new role as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and her first matter of business seems to be advocating for passage of the GOP-crafted American Health Care Act.

Verma, who was confirmed last week by the Senate largely along party lines in a 55-43 vote, has close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, having designed a conservative Medicaid expansion in Indiana during Pence's tenure there as governor. Verma was the owner and founder of SVC Inc., a healthcare consulting firm that has redesigned Medicaid in a number of states.

[Also: MGMA to Seema Verma: Release past due MIPS eligibility notifications]

Congressional Republicans will make a push this week for passage of the AHCA, which would be administered by CMS, and Verma just launched a Twitter account to advocate for the conservative health bill.

"With the support of @POTUS, we're going to help undo the damage that the #ACA has done to patients, families, & businesses like @MacPapers," she tweeted on Saturday, referring to Mac Paper in Jacksonville, Florida.

"This Admin is committed to #healthcare reforms that put #smallbiz first," she tweeted earlier that day.

Her support of the health bill comes despite fierce opposition from Democrats and some Republicans. Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the new healthcare plan would cause 14 million Americans to lose their coverage within a year, and by 2026 the number of uninsured would swell to 24 million.

Former CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt has emphasized those findings on his own Twitter account while defending the Affordable Care Act, which the AHCA would seek to replace.

"Who said the ACA is perfect?" he tweeted on Sunday. "Just surgically fix it instead of undermining it to pass something that makes things worse."

Earlier Sunday, he tweeted, "Tip for the week: People tend to have long memories when you vote to take their basic needs away."

Verma will report to Tom Price, President Donald Trump's pick for director of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees CMS. Their views on Medicare and Medicaid differ slightly: Price is an advocate for turning government-guaranteed Medicare into a voucher plan with a fixed government contribution for each beneficiary, arguing this would boost competition and drive down premiums. Critics say that some seniors would be left with higher premiums as others pick up private insurance.

Twitter: @JELagasse

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