Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Leadership

Seema Verma, Administrator

seema verma

President Trump nominated Seema Verma to be the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on November 29th, 2016, and she was confirmed by the United States Senate on March 13, 2017. As Administrator of CMS, she oversees one of the largest federal agencies that administers vital healthcare programs to over 100 million Americans. Before becoming CMS Administrator, she was the President, CEO and founder of SVC, Inc., a national health policy consulting company. For over 20 years, Ms. Verma has worked extensively on a variety of policy and strategic projects involving Medicaid, insurance, and public health, working with Governor's offices, State Medicaid agencies, State Health Departments, State Departments of Insurance, as well as the federal government, private companies and foundations.

Ms. Verma has extensive experience redesigning Medicaid programs in several states. Ms. Verma is the architect the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), the Nation's first consumer-directed Medicaid program under Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Governor Pence’s HIP 2.0 waiver proposal. Ms. Verma has supported Indiana through development of the historic program since its inception in 2007, from development of the enabling legislation, negotiating the financing plan with the State’s hospital association, developing the federal waiver, supporting federal negotiations and leading the implementation of the program, including the operational design.

Ms. Verma and her SVC team developed many of the recent Medicaid reform programs including waivers for Iowa, Ohio and Kentucky. She helped design Tennessee’s coverage expansion proposal and also provided technical assistance to Michigan as that State implemented its 1115 Medicaid waiver. Ms. Verma and SVC also supported Iowa’s Medicaid transition to managed care, as well as supporting efforts Medicaid strategy efforts in Maine.

Ms. Verma served as the State of Indiana’s health reform lead following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and has worked with multiple public health agencies and state insurance agencies as they prepared for implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including interpreting and implementing regulatory changes and understanding the impact of the health exchanges on state insurance markets. Ms. Verma has served as Vice President of Planning for the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana, and as a Director with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) in Washington D.C.

Ms. Verma received her Master’s degree in Public Health with concentration in health policy and management from Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Centers for Medicaid & CHIP Services Leadership

Chris Traylor, Deputy Administrator and Director

Photo of Chris Traylor

Chris Traylor is the Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid & Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Services (CMCS) within the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As the Deputy Administrator and Center Director of CMCS, Chris leads activities related to national Medicaid and CHIP policy and program operations, and works closely with states in the implementation of their Medicaid and CHIP programs. Previously, Chris served as Deputy Administrator for Strategy at CMS.

He ended a successful career in state government on May 31, 2016, retiring as Executive Commissioner (CEO) of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). HHSC is Texas’ health and human services agency, serving over five million Texans. During his tenure, HHSC had a budget of over $40 billion, and employed 56,000 people.

Chris previously served as the Chief Deputy Executive Commissioner of HHSC in Texas and also led the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) as Commissioner (CEO) from January of 2010 to August of 2012. During his tenure at DADS, the agency implemented broad reforms to improve services for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and extended community care options for Texans.

Before leading DADS, Chris served for over three years as the Texas state Medicaid director. Under his leadership, Texas developed health passports for children in foster care and also expanded a managed model of care that integrated acute and long-term care services for Texans who are elderly or have disabilities. The model delivered cost savings for the state, which allowed Texas to reduce and eliminate the wait for nursing facility level in-home and community services.

His 26 years of public service also include Chief of Staff at HHSC, where his duties involved managing the day-to-day operations of the consolidation of Texas’ health and human services agencies in 2004. His resume also contains experience as key staff in both the Texas House and Senate, as well as in Washington, D.C., where he worked as staff for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a U.S. Senator.

After his retirement from state service, Traylor led a health care consulting firm, based in Austin, Texas.

Karen Shields, Deputy Director

Karen Shields is the Deputy Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Karen has held several leadership positions in the public sector, as well as at HHS. She previously served as the Deputy Director at Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) and as the Director for Marketplace Operations.  During her time at CCIIO she led multiple Open Enrollment periods and oversaw the team responsible for the implementation, design and launch of systems for the disbursement of over $23 billion in federal payments to health insurance plans.

Before joining CCIIO Karen worked in the Office of Information and Technology (OIT) and led the Division of Customer Liaison and Support services. She joined CMS in 2009 leading multiple laptop refreshes and the agency’s Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12 technology implementation.

Prior to joining CMS, Karen worked at Lockheed Martin for nine years, where she led multiple technology projects with the Departments of Defense, Treasury and other government agencies.

Deidre Gifford, M.D., Deputy Director

diedre gifford

Dr. Deidre S. Gifford has served as the Deputy Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) at CMS since 2016. She has held leadership positions in Medicaid and healthcare reform in both the public and private sectors, focusing on quality improvement and payment and delivery system reform.

Dr. Gifford served as Medicaid Director in the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services, having previously served as the agency’s medical director. During her tenure there from 2012 and 2015, she advanced changes in the payment and delivery system to improve the quality of care and enhance the value of Medicaid services, including the development of numerous initiatives in care coordination, information technology, and provider payment innovations. From 2005 until 2011, Dr. Gifford was co-founder and Project Director of Rhode Island’s multi-payer Medical Home demonstration, one of the nation’s first and most enduring multi-payer payment reform initiatives. Prior to joining CMS, she served as the Director of State Policy and Programs at the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), where she led that organization’s efforts with states to support and advance value based purchasing in Medicaid. Dr. Gifford was also the Director of Healthcare Policy and Programs for Rhode Island’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization from 1998 - 2008.

Jackie Garner, Deputy Director

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Jackie Garner is the Deputy Director, overseeing Medicaid operations in all ten Regional Offices. Jackie joined the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as the Chicago Regional Administrator in 2003. She holds a Master’s degree and came to CMS with over twenty years of experience in health and human services.

Before joining CMS Garner served as a senior member of the Illinois Governor’s health policy staff and later went on to a cabinet level position with the Illinois Department of Public Aid, the state Medicaid and S-CHIP agency. As Director she oversaw the development and implementation of one of the first state pharmacy waiver programs. She also has extensive experience in not for profit executive leadership including substance abuse/mental health programs and was active in state legislative affairs. She was a senior member of the California Endowment foundation staff immediately following their conversion from Blue Cross of California and is knowledgeable of foundation operations. Throughout her career she has always advocated for improved access and quality of health care for underserved communities.