Trump Stands by Embattled Medicare and Medicaid Chief

The statement, issued by a spokesman for Ms. Verma, also pointed out that she commutes to Washington every week from her home in Indiana, “which is why she was traveling with her personal collection of jewelry.”

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, Democrat of Massachusetts, who questioned Ms. Verma at a hearing in October on the contracts with communications consultants, called for her resignation on Monday.

“I feel terrible for her that her items were stolen,” Mr. Kennedy said in a phone interview, “but the idea that taxpayers should be on the hook for that is, I don’t think, accurate or appropriate at all.”

Ms. Verma, whose agency oversees not only Medicare and Medicaid but also the federal insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, was a health policy consultant for Mr. Pence in his previous job as governor of Indiana. He remains a powerful ally for Ms. Verma, who has pushed hard for a number of Mr. Trump’s health care priorities, such as imposing work requirements on many adult Medicaid recipients and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Many view her willingness to repeatedly attack the Affordable Care Act and, more recently, Democratic proposals for “Medicare for all,” as winning her points with the White House.

Mr. Azar, a cabinet secretary with a larger portfolio than Ms. Verma’s, is a former senior executive at the drug company Eli Lilly, which is headquartered in Indiana. His top priority as health secretary has been lowering the cost of prescription drugs, for which Mr. Trump wants to be able to claim credit on the campaign trail next year. He has worked in the agency’s top echelons before, during President George W. Bush’s tenure, and is considered more politically moderate than Ms. Verma.

Earlier this year, Mr. Azar lost a battle over one of his main policy goals: eliminating the drug rebates that companies pay pharmacy benefit managers, such as CVS Caremark or Express Scripts, which he saw as a reason for rising drug prices. Mr. Trump killed the proposal in July after fiscal conservatives in the White House raised concerns about the potential costs.

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