Democrats use inspector general report to renew calls for Medicare chief’s ouster

Democrats use inspector general report to renew calls for Medicare chief’s ouster

Verma has disputed the report, calling its findings “disingenuous” and arguing that auditors cherry-picked the examples included in the response.

In a joint release, the chairs of the House Oversight and Energy and Commerce committees and the top Democrats on the Senate HELP and Finance committees said the inspector general’s report showed that Verma spent taxpayer funds inappropriately. They also warned that their own year-long investigation — which drew on “tens of thousands of pages of documents” provided by contractors and the health department — would contain further information about Verma’s spending and decisions.

“Administrator Verma’s blatant refusal to acknowledge the IG’s findings, or take steps to fix the problem, raises concerns about her ability to continue to run the agency during the current health crisis,” Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a joint statement. “We are now completing our investigation and will soon release our findings, which will build upon the Inspector General’s report and provide additional details on Administrator Verma’s inappropriate use of private consultants for her personal benefit.”

Eight other Democrats on Thursday explicitly called on Trump to “remove Administrator Verma from her post without delay,” in a letter led by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and joined by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the health department’s finances.

“Verma has grossly misused CMS funding, has reliably prioritized herself over the American people, and it is now clear she lied under oath,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Trump on Thursday. Under questioning from Kennedy, Verma testified in an October 2019 congressional hearing that the contracts were “consistent with how the agency has used resources in the past, and they’re focused on promoting the work.”

“For someone who claims they want to reduce CMS spending, including reining in fraud and abuse, Verma has spent an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars for personal use, all to the detriment of CMS beneficiaries and the public,” the Democrats added.

HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo on Thursday dismissed the report, telling POLITICO that the department didn’t plan to take any disciplinary action in response to the inspector general’s findings.

“What we see in that letter is bureaucratic technical recommendations … but there’s no punitive recommendation in this report,” Caputo said. “Training, okay … but as you know there is absolutely nothing punitive recommended.”