2017 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Seema Verma

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In March, Verma was summoned to Washington when President Donald Trump nominated her to serve as administrator for the agency that oversees the Affordable Care Act insurance markets, Medicare and Medicaid, which employs more than 6,000 with a $1 trillion annual budget. “I was excited and a little nervous,” she said of the first meeting. “But I felt prepared for the interview, and he offered me the position right away. I’m so honored and privileged to serve the American people.” She still makes it back to Zionsville on weekends.

Inspirational moment: Visiting the emergency room at Wishard [now Eskenazi] Hospital and doing home visits with patients from vulnerable populations while at Health & Hospital Corp. “Having that front-line experience has been invaluable while working on state and national policy.”

verma-box.gifMentors: Gov. Mitch Daniels and Vice President Mike Pence. “Both are great leaders who lead by example. With Daniels, it’s somebody who is highly intelligent. You’d be as prepared as you ever feel for a meeting and he’d always ask the one question you didn’t think of. And I can’t say enough about the vice president. The way he treats people. The way he handles difficult situations. He’s diplomatic. Very intelligent. Very strategic.”

Point of pride: “Working with Gov. Daniels to create the first consumer-based Medicaid program, the Healthy Indiana Plan, which has truly revolutionized how people view the potential of the Medicaid program to help low-income individuals take control of their lives and rise out of poverty. And working with Gov. Pence to negotiate the expansion of the program.”

On the health care battles: “I’ve always been focused on getting things done. Looking back on my experience in Indiana, we were able to put together a plan in a bipartisan way. It showed me that, when people are focused on the outcome, state and local communities are best to make decisions that will work best for the state. One of my goals for the health care delivery system is to make sure that patients are in the driver’s seat. I want to work toward getting control out of Washington and back to the patients.”

Givebacks: Verma served as a board member of the Aidan Brown Foundation, which provides iPads to kids in hospitals.

Inspiring movie: “The Shawshank Redemption.” “This is a man in a bad situation and he held onto himself and his spirt and his ambitions. He didn’t lose sight of that. He persevered. Good things come to those who work hard. People get what they deserve in the long run.”

Favorite place in central Indiana: Downtown Indianapolis. “One of the things I love is that it’s alive. It’s always alive. In many cities, you don’t see that. Oh, and the airport. I’m a road warrior now and Indianapolis is now so easy to get in and out of.” 

Click here for more honorees.

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