The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) contracted with GOP consultants for hundred of thousands of dollars of work that civil servants usually handle. 

The Trump Administration hired around eight White House, campaign and transition officials for President Donald Trump. These contracted workers were among at least 40 consultants who worked on CMS contracted one-year $2.25 million wages, according to a report from Politico. 

The contractors were hired to “provide strategic communications” support and elevate CMS Administrator’s Seema Verna‘s “personal brand.” Each charged up to $380 per hour. Civil servants, from the CMS Department, typically handle the work they performed at a fraction of that cost.

The agreement enabled Republican allies to abuse the federal government’s contract system with little to no public oversight or accountability allowing them to charge large fees. 

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Public scrutiny and widespread criticism caused the Department of Health and Services terminate the contracts in April. This happened after contractors collectively billed around $744,000 over a four-month period, which ranged from September 2018 to January 2019. 

Contractual terms revealed that at least four consultants were allowed to bill a maximum of $204,000 over the length of the contract. This included Marcus Barlow, a long-time ally of Verma, and Vice President Mike Pence.

These numbers are much higher than the CMS’ Department’s regular communications staff. The rates also supersede the agency’s top political appointees – senior career officials made around $140,000 last year, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar made $203,500. 

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