VP swore in Seema Verma as the new Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 3:53 pm. POTUS was not present.
VP entered the Vice President's ceremonial office in EEOB at 3:48 pm, along Verma. Speaking at a lectern he opened his remarks by saying it was his honor to administer the oath to Verma, the 15th person to hold the position. After a brief pause, he encouraged: "You can applaud that if you want." The small audience complied. He then acknowledged her family -- husband Sanjay, daughter Maya and son Sean, as well as her mother and sister – before launching into remarks.
"We have come to a critical moment in the life of our nation," he said, noting it had been seven years ago this month that the "failed law known as Obamacare" was signed. "It has proved to be a disaster," he said, with damage to the economy and to the American people growing with every day.
"Obamacare is collapsing, and the American people know it."
He then described the "multi-step" process the administration is undergoing now, starting with legislation to repeal and replace it, then regulation and additional legislation. The AHCA ends Obamacare taxes and penalties while expanding use of HSAs. New legislation to allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines is "an idea whose time has come," he added.
"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," he said.
VP called her one of the leading experts in America on state-based healthcare solutions, with a career that includes her work in the "great state of Indiana," helping to design the "much heralded Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0." He said it was leading the nation with emphasis on personal responsibility and effective care for people who need it most. She's also helped states like Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan to develop their own programs.
"We're confident that you'll help restore health care decisionmaking to the states, and in the process help make the best healthcare system in the world even better," he said. "As a fellow Hoosier, I couldn't be more proud."
The oath was then administered, with Verma's family standing beside her.
VP and Verma then walked over to a small desk adorned with the seal of the vice president, where Verma sat to sign paperwork.
Verma then made brief remarks, first thanking her family who drove to Washington from Indiana after their flight had been canceled due to the snow storm.
She said she was proud to be part of the team addressing healthcare, and thanked "my good friend, Vice President Pence, for believing in me and all your support. ... Your leadership in Indiana is paving the way for all states and the future of health care in America." She also thanked those who assisted with her confirmation process.
The nation's healthcare system "stands at a crossroads," and we "have no choice" but to fix it. Under President Trump's leadership they would reform the system to "one that puts Americans in charge of their healthcare" and ensures all have access to care.
Pool was quickly given instructions to leave at the conclusion of her remarks at 3:57 pm.