Wednesday April 25, 2018

Indian-American Seema Verma sworn-in as Head of a key healthcare agency in Donald Trump administration

Indian-American Seema Verma was sworn in on Tuesday by US Vice President Mike Pence as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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Washington, March 15, 2017: Indian-American Seema Verma has been sworn-in as the head of a key healthcare agency in the Donald Trump administration.

Verma was sworn in on Tuesday by US Vice President Mike Pence as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which are part of the Department of Health and Human Services, PBS NewsHour reported.

The $1 trillion agency oversees health insurance programmes for everyone from nursing home residents to newborns.

“President Donald Trump has chosen one of the leading experts in America on state-based healthcare solutions to lead this important agency,” Vice President Pence said at the swearing-in ceremony at the White House.

“The President has asked you to bring your expertise to DC,” Pence said, adding: “We’re confident that you’ll help restore healthcare decision making to the states, and in the process help make the best healthcare system in the world even better.”

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Verma is the second Indian-American to be inducted into the Trump administration.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was the first cabinet rank official from the community to serve in any presidential administration.

“Today, our healthcare stands at a crossroads, and we have no choice but to reform it,” she said.

The Senate confirmed her nomination on Monday by a vote of 55-43, largely along party lines.

Verma is taking over the agency as a Republican healthcare bill moving through the House has reopened the debate over the government’s role in healthcare.

Verma is an Indiana healthcare consultant and protege of Pence, who is a former Indiana governor.

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The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) which represents more than 60,000 physicians, welcomed Verma’s appointment, reported New India Times newspaper.

Ajay Lodha, President of AAPI, lauded Verma’s accomplishments in Indiana, and said he hoped that the problems faced by patients under the Medicare drug plan would be resolved under her leadership.

“Drug coverage has gone down and for patients under Medicare who are all above 65, and not healthy and needed medications — I hope she can do something for them.” Lodha said.

When Trump announced in November that he was appointing Verma for the post, he said that she would be part of “the dream team that will transform our healthcare system for the benefit of all Americans”.

Her role will extend beyond the insurance programmes — Medicare for senior citizens and Medicaid for the poor — to helping craft and implement the Republican healthcare reform plan to replace Obamacare.

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“She has decades of experience advising on Medicare and Medicaid policy and helping states navigate our complicated systems,” Trump had said. (IANS)

 

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Trump Travel Ban can stay despite ongoing legal battle: SC

Supreme court sighting national security allowed President Trump's travel ban despite ongoing legal battles

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Trump Travel Ban
Protestors against Trump Travel Ban (ALT)

The US Supreme Court on Monday decided to allow President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban to stay in force despite the ongoing legal case in lower courts, much to the joy of the Trump administration.

Of the members of the jury, seven ruled in favor of the administration while two — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor — voted for the partial stay on the ban to continue.

The court did not account for its decision. The third travel ban issued by Trump denies American visas to most travelers from eight countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Six of these are Muslim-majority nations.

Lower court judges in Maryland and Hawaii had barred the implementation of the ban.

The court’s decision essentially throws out a compromise that exempted foreign nationals who have credible claims of a bona fide relationship with someone in the United States. That includes grandparents, brothers- and sisters-in- law, aunts, uncles and cousins.

Lawyers for the state of Hawaii argued that the Supreme Court had no reason to enter the case at this stage because the Court had already acknowledged that some travelers from the eight countries can be safely vetted and get visas.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions termed Monday’s ruling as a “substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”; before adding that Trump’s travel ban is necessary to protect the country from threats.

A lawyer for the Trump administration argued that some foreign governments are deficient in sharing information about those seeking U.S. visas, posing a possible risk to the U.S.

White House Deputy Press Spokesman Hogan Gidley found no element of surprise in Monday’s Supreme Court decision, suggesting that it is “essential to protecting our homeland”.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, however, again labelled the travel ban as a Muslim ban.

“The Supreme Court’s actions today are a good reminder that we can’t simply rely on the courts to address the Trump administration’s efforts to marginalize Muslims and other minorities”, CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments for and against the Trump travel ban as soon as the issue has made its way through the lower courts. (VOA)