April 04,2017

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Wyden Decries Lack of Response to Verma Ethics Inquiry

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today issued a statement after the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) failed to reply to his letter requesting assurances that the agency has procedures in place to ensure that Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma is in compliance with her ethics agreements:

“It’s easy to sign an ethics agreement, but it doesn’t have much value if it’s not actually being followed,” Wyden said. “Ms. Verma’s numerous potential conflicts of interest in the Medicaid program are a serious concern, and the Administration’s lack of transparency and responsiveness so far are troubling.”

Last month, Wyden sent a letter to HHS Acting General Counsel Jeffrey Davis requesting information about how the agency will ensure CMS Administrator Seema Verma is in compliance with her ethics agreements not to directly work on matters relating to seven states with which she has previously done consulting related to Medicaid. That letter came after HHS Secretary Tom Price and Verma sent letters to every state governor signaling their intention to allow Medicaid waivers that include ideologically-motivated policies such as premiums for beneficiaries or work requirements that would harm people in the program.

Wyden’s letter asked for several descriptions of the process the agency will put in place to assure compliance, and for that information to be sent by no later than close of business on March 31, 2017. That deadline has passed.

The text of Wyden’s March 17 letter can be found here.