Escalating Public Feud Between Azar And Verma Reaching ‘Soap Opera’ Levels Of Melodrama
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has now summoned HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma to meet at the White House this week to see if they can continue to work together amid the bickering. Meanwhile, allegations continue to emerge about who is leaking what information and the motives behind the riff.
‘A F—Ing Soap Opera’: The Health Care Drama Riveting The White House
They’re not obsessing about the impeachment imbroglio consuming the rest of the Washington. At the West Wing’s Navy mess, in hallway asides and at staff meetings, many White House aides just want to chatter about an increasingly vicious public spat between two of President Donald Trump’s top health officials. Among top Trump aides, it’s now an open question as to whether Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma can survive the scale of bickering that has appalled and horrified people internally, a White House official said. (Cook, 12/11)
The New York Times:
White House Summons Feuding Health Officials For Counseling Session
The acting White House chief of staff has summoned President Trump’s top two health policy officials to the White House on Thursday to assess whether the president’s health secretary and his Medicare chief can continue to work together, a senior administration official confirmed on Tuesday. White House aides said President Trump is still standing by his embattled administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, amid reports that she had requested that taxpayers reimburse her $47,000 for property stolen on a trip, including jewelry priced at more than $40,000. (Rogers, Abelson and Goodnough, 12/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
White House Calls Top Health Officials For Meeting To Resolve Tensions
People familiar with the matter said distrust between Ms. Verma and Mr. Azar has arisen in part because some people at HHS suspect Ms. Verma leaked information to the media about former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s use of private and military planes for work travel. Reports about that travel led Mr. Price to resign last year. These people also said the tension is partly fueled by a belief that Ms. Verma wants the HHS secretary position. Allies of Ms. Verma have said she played no role in providing leaks to the press about Mr. Price’s travel and that she wasn’t aware he was doing it. (Armour, 12/10)
Medicare Chief Sought To Bring Complaints Against Previous Boss, As Well
Medicare chief Seema Verma allegedly retained a lawyer to discuss a claim that President Donald Trump’s first Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, was creating a hostile work environment, according to an internal 2017 memo prepared by a HHS appointee. A spokesperson for Verma denied that she hired a lawyer. (Pradhan, Diamond and Cancryn, 12/10)
Political Complaint Against Seema Verma Dropped For 'Insufficient Evidence'
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it found insufficient evidence to conclude that CMS Administrator Seema Verma violated the law barring federal employees from engaging in political activities while on the job. The nonpartisan Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint in November 2018 alleging that Verma used her official Twitter account and blog post to advocate against Democratic Medicare for All proposals, in violation of the Hatch Act. The group claimed Verma did so as part of a White House-coordinated effort to defeat Democratic party candidates in the 2018 midterm elections. (Meyer, 12/10)