President Donald Trump has appointed Indian-American Seema Verma to head the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and to repeal Obamacare. The two centres spend more than $1 trillion a year on programs which provide healthcare to Americans.
Here are some things to know about Seema Verma:
Verma is a first generation Indian American. She studied at the University of Maryland and completed her masters in public health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
She played a key role in designing and implementing the state of Indiana’s Medicaid program.
She worked with Vice-President Mike Pence when he was the Governor of Virginia.
Verma will be in charge of rolling back many elements of Obama’s healthcare policies, including expanding Medicaid for low-income people. Democrats are uncertain as to how she will deal with low-income people. She will most likely reduce federal spending on insurance programs for the poor. She said that low-income people are capable of making rational decisions and her Indiana policy made sure that even they would have to pay monthly contributions, similar to premiums, to avail of Medicaid. However, many were kicked off the program for failure to make these contributions.
Verma also suggested that coverage of maternity care should not be required, as it is now, but should be optional. “Some women might want maternity coverage and some women might not want it, might not choose it, might not feel like they need that. So I think it’s up to women to make the decision that works best for them and their families,” she said at her swearing-in. The changes that she is in charge of could land up leaving 24 million more people uninsured by 2026.
She is the second Indian American to be appointed by Trump’s cabinet. The first was Nikki Haley, who will serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations.