Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA students and alumni were watching closely as Indiana resident Seema Verma was selected as the nominee to lead the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
The federal agency administers Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as Affordable Care Act provisions including the Health Insurance Marketplaces.
Officials say CMS directly or indirectly influences the healthcare of every U.S. citizen and has an annual budget nearing one trillion dollars.
Verma was a guest speaker in both 2014 and 2015 for the first-quarter course in the Kelley Physician MBA Program “Healthcare Revenue and Delivery Models.” Course instructor Professor Mohan Tatikonda describes it as a broad-based introduction to the current state of American healthcare, addressing business trends in healthcare sector payments and reimbursements and examining emerging organizational and clinical approaches to healthcare provision.
As part of the course, Tatikonda, an operations management professor and healthcare and life sciences industry expert, invites nationally-recognized leaders to speak with the Kelley Physician MBA students. This has included Verma; Martin Bott, Eli Lilly’s VP of Corporate Finance and Investment Banking; Dennis Murphy, President and CEO for IU Health; and other health system, life sciences and health insurance experts.
“These leaders also influence the future of healthcare,” explained Tatikonda. “There’s so much our students can learn from them, as well as share with them.”
Verma is founder and president of SVC Inc., a national health policy consultancy, where she worked on policy and strategic projects involving Medicaid, insurance and public health. Previously Verma served as a director with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in Washington D.C. and as Vice President of Policy and Planning for the Marion County (Indianapolis, Indiana) Health and Hospital Corporation.
Verma spoke with Kelley Physician MBAs in September 2014 and October 2015, each time addressing over two hours worth of various aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including the Individual Mandate, health insurance marketplaces and state options for Medicaid expansion. She explained Indiana’s “Healthy Indiana Plan” (HIP) introduced under Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana’s “HIP 2.0” introduced under Governor and now Vice President Mike Pence.
“There is no better expert on Medicaid expansion in the United States,” said Tatikonda. “Seema Verma has been a trusted advisor to a number of Indiana governors as well as governors and state agencies across the country. She was instrumental in developing the Indiana HIP and HIP 2.0 proposals.”
“As CMS director she will be the point person leading the definition of emerging healthcare revenue models in the United States,” said Tatikonda. “The rules, programs and incentives CMS puts in place are those our physicians work with every day. CMS’ reach is truly broad because their rules and programs often become de facto standards for healthcare revenue and delivery systems outside of government as well.”
Verma recognized and encouraged the Kelley Physician MBA students’ efforts in the program, saying during her 2014 talk, “My hat’s off to you” for taking the program, and “I’m excited to be a part of your education.”
She explained to the students, “I feel very strongly that more physicians need to get involved in health policy.”
Pil (Peter) Kang, MD, MBA’16, was one of the physician MBAs who heard Verma speak.
“I feel she brings a consumer-based perspective and paradigm in approaching the administration of a very large and very important entitlement program in the United States,” explained Kang, who is a radiologist and partner at Davis Radiology, PC, in Burlington, Iowa. “The current way of administering Medicare and Medicaid is not sustainable. Ms. Verma’s experience in dealing with a large federal law at the state level gives her some perspective acting now at the federal level.”
“There are many physician leaders like us across the United States who would love to continue the interaction and help achieve better healthcare in this country,” added Kang.
Verma’s appointment still needs to be confirmed by the Senate.