On a scale of one to 10, tensions between Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma are at a 15 — and the stories about the fallout keep coming.
Why it matters: These are huge agencies that control all federal health spending. Azar and Verma are in charge of executing President Trump's health agenda heading into an election in which health care is front and center, and at a time when he could use some wins.
Driving the news: Axios' Jonathan Swan and I scooped on Friday that things got so bad at the end of the summer that HHS brought in a third-party lawyer to investigate Verma's claims of sex discrimination.
- The lawyer — who previously worked at HHS under the Trump administration — described the claims as unsubstantiated.
- We also obtained a memo from August 2017 that shows that the administration received multiple complaints about the workplace environment inside CMS.
Then on Saturday, Politico's Dan Diamond reported that Verma asked taxpayers to reimburse her $47,000 for lost property — mostly jewelry — in August 2018 after her bags were stolen on a work trip.
- She was ultimately reimbursed $2,852.40.
- Verma is already under fire for spending $2.25 million on outside public relations consultants, whose tasks included building up her personal brand.
Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have become involved in the situation, urging the officials to find a way to work together, as Jonathan and I reported last week, and Azar met with Pence on Friday.
What's next: Both Azar and Verma have powerful allies and committed detractors at the highest level of the administration, meaning it's unclear which — if either — of them will become a casualty of this increasingly untenable situation.