POLITICO's Pulse Check

Inside the fight shaking HHS, with Adam Cancryn and Rachana Pradhan

Episode Summary

The two top Trump appointees in the Humphrey building haven't seen eye-to-eye on health policy, personnel and priorities — and that's causing real problems.

Episode Notes

HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CMS Administrator Seema Verma are the two most important health officials in the Humphrey building — but they've spent months disagreeing on policy, personnel and priorities. The longstanding cold war between them has heated up amid questions over Verma's use of outside public relations contractors.

On this episode of "Pulse Check," POLITICO's Dan Diamond joins colleagues Adam Cancryn and Rachana Pradhan to discuss the team's recent reporting on the Azar-Verma relationship, what it means for the Trump administration's policies and where it's all headed.


Verma's faced congressional inquiries and an inspector general probe following a POLITICO report that she directed millions of federal dollars toward PR communications contracts that benefited her personal brand.

Azar and Verma's battles have affected big ideas — like the administration's plans to replace Obamacare — and smaller moments like who gets to announce new regulations, POLITICO reported last week.

Azar also has clashed with the White House — and specifically Joe Grogan, the domestic policy council chief — over policy ideas.