Report: CMS Administrator spent hundreds of thousands on exterior consultants


In February of 2019, media marketing consultant Pam Stevens secured an look for Seema Verma, Administrator of the Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies, to look on a “Girls Rule” podcast.  She billed at the very least $3,400 to rearrange the looks, based on a congressional report launched Thursday.

She additionally reportedly billed almost $3,000 to rearrange a “Woman’s Evening” networking occasion at a reporter’s house, and billed at the very least $13,000 to appoint Verma’s participation in awards and pitch her participation in panels.

These are only a few examples highlighted in a latest report displaying that exterior consultants charged CMS almost $6 million over a two-year interval. The yearlong investigation, performed by 4 congressional committees, alleged that CMS Administrator Seema Verma misused congressional funds to spice up her public picture.

In accordance with the report, CMS was issued invoices for at least $5.79 million between June of 2017 and April of 2019. That included $5.067 million to public relations agency Porter Novelli, $688,755 to Deloitte and $33,864 to Weber Shandwick.

These assist the outcomes of a previous audit by the Office of Inspector General, which discovered that CMS violated federal contracting necessities. In accordance with the OIG, CMS had ready the required documentation for awarding strategic communications providers. However the company didn’t handle them accurately, akin to permitting a subcontractor to direct CMS workers, and paid some questionable prices.

The consultants reportedly additionally had entry to info on proposed guidelines, inner coverage plans and different info that may doubtlessly be market-sensitive.

For instance, Verma labored carefully with marketing consultant Marcus Barlow, who served as her spokesperson in her earlier job working a consulting agency in Indiana. He had entry to CMS’ workplaces, managed Verma’s Twitter account and will make managerial selections. Whereas billing for the hours of a full-time worker, he charged greater than double the $179,700 wage of CMS’ prime communications official, based on the congressional report.

In different instances, consultants traveled with Verma to occasions throughout the nation, racking up bills. For a two-day journey to New York Metropolis in 2018, consultants with Nahigian Methods submitted almost $8,900 in reimbursements, together with staying in a lodge that value greater than $500 per room per night time. On the time, the accredited authorities lodge fee was $291 per night time.

“By retaining these consultants, Administrator Verma misused funds appropriated by Congress, losing taxpayer {dollars} meant to assist federal well being care applications,” the report acknowledged.

CMS didn’t reply to requests for remark on the time of publication.


Picture credit score: Alex Wong, Getty Pictures


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