- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s pick to oversee the government’s major insurance programs says she doesn’t support turning Medicare into a “voucher” plan.

Indiana health policy consultant Seema Verma told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday that she’s “not supportive” of that. “Voucher” is a term used by critics to describe a proposal under which retirees would get a fixed payment to purchase coverage from government-regulated private insurance plans.

Prominent supporters of such an approach include House Speaker Paul Ryan and newly confirmed health secretary Tom Price. They call it “premium support.”

Verma was being questioned by Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.

She said that she supports choice for Medicare beneficiaries and that the program needs changes to make it financially sustainable for the long run.

If confirmed, Verma would head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, overseeing programs that cover more than 100 million people.


11:37 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the government’s major health insurance programs says maternity coverage should be optional for patients.

Indiana health care consultant Seema Verma tells the Senate Finance Committee that patients - not the government - should determine the insurance benefits they need.

Verma was facing questions from Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow about the Obama-era health law. That law made maternity and newborn coverage a mandatory benefit for all health insurance plans.

Verma tells Stabenow that some women want maternity coverage and “some women might not choose that.”

Republicans have criticized the law’s requirement that insurers cover a standard set of “essential” benefits, including women’s health services.

Verma would head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also oversees the 2010 health law.

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