Politico: 'Frosty' HHS, White House relationship threatens Trump's healthcare plans

A "frosty" relationship between HHS Secretary Alex Azar and the White House's policy team could jeopardize the administration's healthcare efforts, according to a report from Politico.

Politico spoke with a dozen officials from the White House and HHS who confirmed the relationship was wearing thin between Mr. Azar and White House domestic policy chief Joe Grogan, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other officials. Politico describes it as a clash of ideologies, where Mr. Azar is seen as a pragmatic conservative and Mr. Grogan and Mr. Mulvaney are hard-line Trump allies. However, the issue primarily exists between Mr. Azar and White House officials, not the president, according to the report.

The tension between Mr. Azar and the White House has reportedly escalated to shouting matches and certain officials being banned from meetings. Mr. Azar is frequently overruled, and White House officials have started bypassing him and going straight to President Donald Trump on policy issues, according to the report.

The divide has caused confusion and delays, particularly surrounding drug-pricing policy. For example, President Trump and Mr. Azar support an HHS rule to overhaul drug rebates, but Mr. Grogan has slowed it down. Meanwhile, Mr. Grogan and Mr. Azar are pursuing separate but parallel drug-pricing policy efforts in Congress, according to the report. 

Sources told Politico Mr. Azar is expected to stay in his role through the 2020 election, despite the White House disputes.

Read more here.


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