Capitol Correspondence - 12.23.19

Chair of Key House Committee Calls for CMS Administrator’s Resignation

Share this page

Because CMS oversees the administration of the program that funds the majority of disability supports in the United States, it is important for our members to be aware of the political climate surrounding the policymakers who have influence over the federal Medicaid system.

As reported by Politico:

“House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone is calling for CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s resignation, becoming the highest-ranking Democrat so far to urge her to quit. [ANCOR note: the Energy and Commerce Committee oversees Medicaid issues in the House.]

Pallone told reporters today that he agreed with Democrats, including some on his committee, who have called for Verma to lose her job over questions about her stewardship of taxpayer funds. […]

Five House Democrats earlier this month sought Verma’s firing, writing to President Donald Trump that she had shown ‘a pattern of incredibly poor and misguided judgment when spending taxpayer dollars.’

The letter cited POLITICO’s reporting about Verma’s use of federal funds, including directing millions of dollars toward public relations contracts — some of whom worked to boost her personal brand — and seeking taxpayer-funded reimbursement for $47,000 of jewelry and other goods that were stolen during a work trip.

The Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating Verma’s conduct since POLITICO first reported on her use of contractors in March. Earlier this week, the panel said the probe has raised new questions about Verma’s role in directing the contracts, and Democratic lawmakers claimed that HHS has largely stonewalled their efforts to obtain key documents from Verma and her team.

Health department officials insisted that they’re complying with the committee’s requests, and a CMS spokesperson this week defended the agency’s use of contractors as part of a broader strategy to promote its message and reach new media outlets.”