Medicare Administrator Verma said that private consultants paid nearly $ 6 million in taxpayers’ money for a personal image-building campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) – A personal adviser to a federal official who billed Mediker nearly $ 6 million in less than two years to strengthen her personal image, including efforts to win the award, placing her on the list of powerful women And arranging meetings with influential people, a report by Congressional Democrats said on Thursday.

Investigators wrote that advisors billed several taxpayers with the Republican Party up to $ 380 per hour, largely aimed at flashing the profile of Medicare Administrator Seema Verma.

A contractor, Pam Stevens, who did extensive work for the GOP, charged $ 330 an hour to pursue ideas such as publications including Oprah Magazine and Garden & Gun to write articles about Verma. The report states that Stevens billed at least $ 1,117 to arrange an interview, which resulted in a Varma profile in AARP The Magazine.

It was “hand-pierced” by Varma’s colleagues, the report said, “a shadow operation” that sidelined the communications staff of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The 56-page report stated that consultants’ work often had nothing to do with running Medicare, Medicaid, and other large-scale health programs, supported by more than 1,700 documents. Verma has been running the agency since 2017.

The report states, “Congress intends to use Administrator Verma or other senior CMS officers to use taxpayer dollars to stock CMP with handheld advisors or to promote Administrator Verma’s public profile and personal brand Not done, ”the report states.

He said that in view of the negligent disregard of public confidence, Administrator Verma should reimburse taxpayers for these unfair expenses.

An official from the Department of Health and Human Services called the report a “political blot” by “politically leftist leaders”. The statement by Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of the Department of Public Affairs, did not deny any of the specific findings of the report.

“It’s just another reckless, politically punctual, drive-by hit job on a reform-driven Trump administration official, and by extension, on President Trump,” said Caputo, who announced Wednesday that he was absent after Were taking leave Publicly accused government scientists of prolonging the coronovirus crisis to harm Trump in the November election and suggested Trump backers to plan an armed rebellion. Caputo said Verma “continued the administration’s unprecedented success in transforming the American health system.”

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The report released on Thursday was prepared by Democratic staffers from two Senate and two House committees. The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, of which Verma’s agency is a part, released similar findings in July.

Thursday’s report said that in addition to burning Verma’s image, consultants took leading fashion agency communications strategies and access sensitive internal information that could affect financial markets.

The report states that Marcus Barlow, a consultant who previously worked for Verma at an Indiana firm, billed the Medicare agency for hours more than fulltime workers and decided on some federal employees Had powers.

Investigators wrote that Verma and conservative Fox News hosts and editors of Woman’s Day and Women’s Health magazine arranged private meetings.

A memo suggested Washington magazine to put Verma on Washington’s list of the most powerful women.

Another document indicated that contractors billed at least $ 13,000 to offer Verma’s name for the award and participate in other events.

There was also an entry for $ 3,000 “to honor the administrator on Girl’s Night” held at the home of Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief of USA Today.

Page was not aware that Verma’s agency was billed for the incident, and was paid more than $ 4,000 for its costs without reimbursement in person, USA Today said in a statement . The news organization said that the girls’ night events have been held for years, with journalists honoring the leaders of both parties.

The report said Verma brought consultants with him on a government visit, even when government employees were increasing the cost of taxpayers. In one example, Verma made a three-day trip to California, including three agency as well as four consultants who charged up to $ 310 per hour for the time.

Verma worked on health issues led by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor of Indiana. She clashed with Democrats as part of President Donald Trump’s team when she unsuccessfully attempted to thwart former President Barack Obama’s health care law.