By Sarah Ferris - 10/29/14 05:18 PM EDT
Foreign diplomats and their families may be receiving subsidized health benefits under ObamaCare, a pair of House leaders said Wednesday as they announced a joint investigation into the program.
In a letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, the heads of the House Foreign Affairs and Ways and Means committees demand answers about how many non-citizens have benefited — and how much it has cost.
The IRS is reviewing the letter, a spokeswoman told The Hill, but declined to comment further.
The senior Republicans said they have been repeatedly derailed in their investigation into the programs by officials at both the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They have sent three letters to agency officials since last December, none of which have revealed program details.
An official from the State Department said last year that she couldn’t provide information because the department is “not involved in the process through which foreign diplomats obtain government-funded benefits.”
Several months later, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell wrote to the lawmakers and said foreign diplomats “could be eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions” if their incomes qualify, but that she did not have specific details about costs or beneficiaries.
“I emphasize that the elimination of fraud, waste and abuse in our programs is critically important to the Department of Health and Human Services and that the safeguarding of taxpayer dollars is a top priority,” she wrote in the letter Sept. 30.
The latest step in the investigation comes nearly a year after reports that nearly 50 Russian diplomats and their spouses had plotted $1.5 million in Medicaid fraud. The federal government unclassified those reports in December 2013 amid deteriorating relations with Moscow.
— Bernie Becker contributed