Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
3:49 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. On behalf of the President of the United States, it is my great privilege to administer the oath of office to Seema Verma, who will become the 15th Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. You can applaud that if you want. I can tell you’d like to. (Applause.)
I’m very pleased today to be joined, despite the inclement weather, by her wonderful family, including her husband, Sanjay; her daughter, Maya; her son, Sean. And we’re also pleased that her mother, Denash (ph), and her sister, Dia (ph) are here. Join me in welcoming Seema Verma’s entire family. (Applause.)
My friends, we’ve come to a critical moment in the life of our nation — seven years ago, this month, the failed law known as Obamacare was signed into law. And it’s proved to be a disaster. Its damage to our economy and our people literally grows with every passing year. We’ve all seen the headlines — rising premiums, plummeting choices. Obamacare is collapsing, and the American people know it. The fact is that Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go.
President Trump has made clear he’s promised to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all with a better health care system, one that will benefit the health and well-being of the American people for generations to come.
And, my friends, we’re already in the process of keeping that promise. At this very moment, our administration is pursuing a multistep strategy to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that actually works.
Step one, we’re working with the Congress to pass the American Health Care Act, which begins the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare by ending its taxes and penalties, expanding the use of health savings accounts — and just to name a few of the important reforms that are in it.
At the same time, our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price, is already taking steps to get government out of the way to lower prices and increase choices for Americans. And we’re working with Congress to pass legislation later this year that will create a dynamic national health insurance marketplace that will make affordable, high-quality health insurance accessible for every American. Allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines is an idea whose time has come.
At each step of this process, one of President Trump’s most important objectives, though, has been to give the freedom and flexibility to states across the country to design health care programs, especially Medicaid, to the unique needs of their most vulnerable citizens.
And that’s where Seema Verma comes in. President Trump has chosen, frankly, one of the leading experts in America on state-based health care solutions to lead this important agency. Seema’s extraordinary record stretches back for over 20 years. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University with a master’s degree in public health, she went to work in the great state of Indiana for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County.
She also worked for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials before founding her own health care company in 2001. And that’s where she has really made her mark across the country.
In my home state of Indiana, she helped design the much-heralded Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 in 2015. Today, Indiana’s program is leading the nation with its emphasis on personal responsibility and effective care for people who need it most.
And beyond Indiana, she’s helped states like Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan seek to update their programs to better reflect the unique needs of those states.
Seema, President Trump has now asked you to bring your expertise to Washington, D.C. As Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, we’re confident that you’ll help restore health care decision-making to the states, and in the process, help make the best health care system in the world even better. And frankly, as a fellow Hoosier, I couldn’t be more proud. Given your strong record of leadership, experience, and compassion, I can say with full confidence, along with the President, that we know you will rise to the challenge to help make American health care great again.
And so, on behalf of President Trump, it’s my great privilege to administer to you the oath of office.
(The oath is administered.) (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my privilege to introduce the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Seema Verma. (Applause.)
ADMINISTRATOR VERMA: Thank you. First of all, I want to thank my family for being here tonight — or today. Their flight was cancelled last night, and they drove through a snowstorm just to be here with me. So I’m very, very grateful. (Applause.)
I am humbled and honored to be here today and to have the opportunity to serve as the CMS Administrator. I’m grateful and appreciative of President Trump not only for asking me to be the Administrator but for putting together an incredibly talented group of individuals that he’s brought from the private sector into government service. People like Dr. Tom Price. And I am proud to be a part of this team.
And thank you to my good friend, Vice President Pence, for believing in me and for all of your support these past years. Your leadership in Indiana is paving the way for all states, and the future of health care in America. So, thank you.
And thanks to all of you that have been involved in my confirmation process. Many of you have gone above and beyond to help me navigate the process, and I am so grateful for your support.
Today, our health care stands at a crossroads and we have no choice but to fix our health care system. Under President Trump’s leadership and vision, we finally have an incredible opportunity to move our health care system into one that puts Americans in charge of their health care and will ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care that they can afford.
I am honored to be a part of this critical effort. We have so much work to get done, and I can’t wait to begin.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
3:58 P.M. EDT