Burnishing her image and flogging her message have gotten Seema Verma into hot water lately. After a scathing Politico story, the HHS Office of Inspector General is investigating CMS contracts with three Republican media consultants (Pam Stevens, Marcus Barlow, Nahigian Strategies) that worked for Verma.
As Politico and others have noted, CMS already has a large, inhouse communications operation with a staff of about two dozen federal employees. Should taxpayers really be footing the bill (it’s in the millions of dollars) for additional enhancement of Verma’s profile and message?
That context puts the CMS podcast, “CMS Beyond the Policy” in a different light. Everyone and their brother-in-law seems to have a podcast these days. Because CMS and its regulations are so instrumental in shaping American health care, a quality CMS podcast would be welcome. That’s not what we have got in “CMS Beyond the Policy,” which seems to be more about pushing Verma’s policies than getting beyond them.
As we went to press, only two episodes had been produced and the first part of the second one was Verma’s speech at the CMS Quality Conference, followed by interviews with attendees discussing some of the issues she raised.
There’s some value in finding out what CMS is putting out there. Maybe the podcasts will improve with time and experience. But right now, they are, at the very least, a missed opportunity and another offkey example of Verma tooting her own horn.