Seema Verma, administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hired about 40 former Trump White House and campaign employees for a $2.25 million annual contract to do work traditionally handled by CMS' own communications department.

Why it matters: "The arrangement allowed the Trump allies to cycle through the federal government's opaque contracting system, charging hefty fees with little public oversight or accountability," Politico reports.

Details: Multiple sources confirmed the authenticity of 200 pages of billing documents that Politico obtained from Health and Human Services in a congressional oversight request.

  • At least eight former officials from the White House, presidential transition and campaign for President Trump were hired.
  • CMS agreed to allow at least four consultants to bill up to $204,000 over the length of the contract, a much larger amount than senior career officials in the CMS communications department earned and a little more than HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s annual salary.

What they're saying: Politico reported that CMS insisted in a statement "that it followed standard government contracting procedures and that CMS routinely relies on thousands of contractors for 'critical day-to-day operations.'"

Go deeper: Medicare will now cover a costly cell therapy for cancer patients

Go deeper

The top Republicans who aren't voting for Trump in 2020

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced in an op-ed Sunday that he would be voting for Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Ridge, who was also the first secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush, joins other prominent Republicans who have publicly said they will either not vote for Trump's re-election this November or will back Biden.

Former GOP governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge endorses Joe Biden

Tom Ridge. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, will vote for Joe Biden, he announced in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed on Sunday.

Why it matters: Ridge, who also served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, said this would be his first time casting a vote for a Democratic candidate for president. He's now the third former Republican governor from a swing state to endorse Biden and reject Trump — joining John Kasich from Ohio and Rick Snyder from Michigan.

Poll: Majority of voters say election winner should fill SCOTUS vacancy

President Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A majority of voters believe the winner of the next election should fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new poll from the New York Times and Siena College finds.

Why it matters: President Trump and Senate Republicans have vowed to swiftly confirm his nominee Amy Coney Barrett, in part hoping for a political boost as the conservative base is extremely motivated by issues concerning the court. The poll indicates that moving fast may not help them with voters they also need to win over: women, independents, and college-educated white voters.

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