POLITICO: Clashes among top HHS officials undermine Trump agenda

“President Donald Trump’s health secretary, Alex Azar, and his Medicare chief, Seema Verma, are increasingly at odds, and their feuding has delayed the president’s long-promised replacement proposal for Obamacare and disrupted other health care initiatives central to Trump’s reelection campaign, according to administration officials.”

“Verma spent about six months developing a Trump administration alternative to the Affordable Care Act, only to have Azar nix the proposal before it could be presented to Trump this summer, sending the administration back to the drawing board, senior officials told POLITICO. Azar believed Verma’s plan would actually strengthen Obamacare, not kill it.”

“Behind the policy differences over Obamacare, drug pricing and other initiatives, however, is a personal rivalry that has become increasingly bitter. This fall, Azar blocked Verma from traveling with Trump on Air Force One from Washington to Florida in early October for the unveiling of a high-profile Medicare executive order — an initiative largely drawn up by Verma’s agency — said six officials with knowledge of the episode, which played out over days…”

“Several said Azar and his top aides have worked to shut out Verma from the department’s decision-making in an effort to minimize her influence. At the same time, Verma has frustrated senior HHS officials who believe she is overly concerned with building up her public profile. Those suspicions were heightened earlier this year after POLITICO first reported Verma directed a multi-million-dollar federal contract to outside communications consultants, circumventing her agency’s own extensive communication staff, in part to boost her personal brand.”

“Azar’s and Verma’s aides have dueled over…” Read the full article here.

Source: Clashes among top HHS officials undermine Trump agenda – By Rachana Pradhan, Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond, November 26, 2019. POLITICO.

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