Medicare chief under fire for asking taxpayers to cover stolen jewelry

Elias Hubbard
December 9, 2019

A top Trump health appointee sought to have taxpayers reimburse her for the costs of jewelry, clothing and other possessions, including a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant, that were stolen while in her luggage during a work-related trip, according to documents obtained by POLITICO.

Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reportedly had her luggage stolen from a rented SUV in July 2018 during a trip to San Francisco. The property that went missing along with Verma's bags, according to Politico, included an Ivanka Trump-brand pendant that Verma's jeweler valued at $5,900.

Verma wrote in the claim that the items were not insured, according to Politico. A CMS spokesperson told Politico that Verma was traveling with her jewelry because she commutes to Washington from her home in IN each week "at her own expense".

"When paying for such goods, the department pays a discounted rate based on age for the items that were lost", the spokesperson said. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ended up reimbursing her $2.852.40, CMS said, adding that it does not pay for lost jewelry - which made up $43,065 of Verma's claim- or other personal, not-work-related items.

The attempt at reimbursement for the apparent luxury items from an official who's repeatedly attacked the key safety net programs drew condemnation from former head of the Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub.

"During almost 20 years in government I never once heard of a Fed demanding to be reimbursed for items stolen while traveling ― much less $43,000 worth of luxury items left in a rented SUV!" he tweeted Saturday.

He later corrected himself to note that Verma instead asked for a total reimbursement of $47,000. The agency administers Medicare, the country's largest health insurance for seniors.

"Verma is anxious about wasting government money on "unnecessary" medical care for poor people, but she wants the government to reimburse her for $47,000 worth of jewels and clothes she took on a government trip", Shaub tweeted Sunday. She also questioned why Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, isn't investigating the matter.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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