CMS Administrator Seema Verma gets personal about healthcare, promises to end unnecessary regulations

Seema Verma swearing in
Seema Verma is sworn in as head of CMS, while her husband looks on. (Office of the Vice President)

Seema Verma, who took over as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services earlier this year under the Trump administration, says her husband's recent near-catastrophic health event “will forever shape" the impact she wants to have while serving as the agency’s chief.

Verma's husband, Sanjay Mishra, M.D., who is a physician, collapsed earlier this month and went into cardiac arrest while at an airport with their two children. She wasn’t there but got to the hospital as quickly as possible, she writes in a post on the CMS blog.

Her husband is home and his prognosis is excellent, she says, but if it weren’t for the bystanders who administered CPR and the medical professionals at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he was admitted for treatment, he would not have survived.

From the hospital administrators to the physicians, nurses, and many others who took charge of his care, I witnessed the true greatness of our healthcare system: the remarkable people who serve within it,” she writes.

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She’s also more committed than ever to reducing the regulatory burden on physicians and other healthcare professionals, she says.

“Our agency must make it easier for them to focus on doing the work that patients and families need them to do without causing them to be subject to excessive regulatory and administrative burden,” she writes. In all of CMS’ proposed rules, the agency has asked healthcare providers how to simplify regulations and, over the next few months, will announce further initiatives to reduce government burden, she says.

“We have heard time and again that documentation for payment and for quality reporting is unnecessarily time-consuming and keeps clinicians working late into the night just to keep up on paperwork. Electronic health records that were supposed to make providers’ lives easier by freeing up more time to spend on patient care have distanced them from their patients. New payment structures that were meant to increase coordination have added yet another layer of rules and requirements,” she writes.

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She and others at CMS are committed to helping healthcare professionals do their job without the burden of unnecessary regulations, she says.

That’s a promise she may soon have the ability to fulfill, as doctors’ groups commented this week on proposed rules that would ease some of the requirements of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) payment system. One message: Many want the regulations to be even simpler and more flexible.