Trump’s CMS pick, Seema Verma, faces ethics questions

Seema Verma, Trump's pick for head of CMS
Seema Verma is expected to face ethics questions during her confirmation hearings. Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

With a hearing on her appointment as the new head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Thursday, Democrats are raising ethics questions about Seema Verma’s consulting firm and whether work she did there conflicted with her public duties in Indiana.

Verma, President Donald Trump’s choice to oversee the CMS, advised Vice President Mike Pence on healthcare issues while he was Indiana’s governor and Verma worked as CEO of the consulting firm she founded, SVC Inc. Ethics experts said one of her business arrangements conflicted with her public role, according to the Associated Press.

Trump’s choice of Tom Price as secretary of the Health and Human Services Department also raised ethics questions during his confirmation process. Price was confirmed by the Senate last week on a 52-47 vote divided by party lines.

RELATED: 10 things to know about new HHS secretary Tom Price

A review by the AP found Verma and her company made millions of dollars through consulting arrangements with at least nine states, while she also worked under contract for Hewlett-Packard. Records obtained by the AP showed she received more than $1 million through that contract while Hewlett-Packard held a financial stake in the healthcare policies her consulting company helped shape in Indiana and elsewhere.

Verma helped design Pence’s Medicaid expansion plan, the Healthy Indiana Plan, and her experience led her to help other states design their own proposals. Hewlett is the largest operator of state Medicaid claims processing systems, the AP report said.

Verma, who faces a Senate Finance Committee hearing tomorrow as part of her confirmation process, said through a spokesman there was no conflict of interest and she was “completely transparent” about her relationship with Hewlett, the AP said.

Democrats are expected to raise questions about her consulting arrangements and her philosophy about government entitlement programs, lack of background in Medicare and inexperience leading a large government organization, the AP added.