Mike Pence's quiet takeover of HHS: 3 things to know

Vice President Mike Pence may be quietly influencing HHS' policies on family planning and religious protections for healthcare workers through top-level appointments and other ties to the agency, according to Politico.

Three things to know:

1. Several of HHS' top leaders, including Secretary Alex Azar, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD, and CMS Administrator Seema Verma, are linked to Mr. Pence and his home state of Indiana. For example, Mr. Azar was a top executive at Indiana-based drugmaker Eli Lilly when Mr. Pence served as governor of the state, and Dr. Adams is a former Indiana public health official.

2. In addition, Ms. Verma was his health adviser in Indiana. Her deputy chief of staff, Brady Brookes, served as Mr. Pence's former Indiana legislative director. Likewise, Rebekah Armstrong, who oversaw domestic policy for Mr. Pence at the beginning of his tenure as vice president, now holds an office in HHS' legislative affairs office, according to Politico.

3. While there are links between Mr. Pence's anti-abortion agenda and the administration's changes to federal family planning programs through Title X funding, multiple standing and former officials told Politico the vice president is not directing policies at HHS.

"There have been many staff level meetings on pro-life issues with HHS. He and the president will always advocate for pro-life policies," a White House official told Politico.

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