Top Medicare Position Changes Hands

Seema Verma resigned her post as CMS Administrator following the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. Elizabeth Richter takes over as the interim administrator of Medicare until the Biden administration nominates a new administrator.

Seema Verma – who served as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator for nearly four years – resigned from her position effective January 20. Verma has been replaced on an interim basis by Elizabeth Richter, who has served with the CMS since 1990.

Verma took over as CMS Administrator in March 2017 and was one of the longer-tenured officials in the Trump administration prior to her resignation. She was appointed by Trump in May 2020 as a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Verma announced her resignation Jan. 15 with a three-page letter that read in part:

“Serving the American people with the talented and dedicated staff at CMS for nearly four years has been an honour for which I will always be grateful.”

Who is Elizabeth Richter?

Richter will be the interim CMS Administrator until a permanent replacement is chosen. A new CMS Administrator requires Senate confirmation. 

Richter began her tenure at CMS in 1990 with the Bureau of Policy Development, where she worked on inpatient hospital payment policy and later on a variety of Medicare payment issues. 

In 1998 she transitioned to the Office of Financial Management and became director of the Financial Services Group in 2001. Two years later she became director of the Hospital and Ambulatory Policy Group in the Center for Medicare Management and in 2007 became deputy director of the Center for Medicare. 

Accompanying Richter in a deputy role will be Jeff Wu, who has worked with the CMS since 2011 including a leadership role at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. 

Other key positions changing hands with the new administration include that of Health and Human Services secretary, for which Alex Azar has been replaced by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and CDC Director, for which Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, takes over for outgoing director Robert Redfield.