Medicare administrator asked for reimbursement for stolen jewelry, clothing: report

Medicare administrator asked for reimbursement for stolen jewelry, clothing: report
© Greg Nash

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) head Seema Verma filed a claim for the government to reimburse her for $47,000 in personal belongings stolen during a work trip, according to documents obtained by Politico.

Verma filed the claim on Aug. 20, 2018, for items including clothing and a $5,900 Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial Lawmakers introduce bill to bolster artificial intelligence, quantum computing Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash MORE-brand pendant, saying her bags were stolen during a speech in San Francisco.

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The claim, obtained by Politico through a Freedom of Information Act request, included about $43,000 for jewelry, $2,000 for clothing and another 43,000 for miscellaneous items including $349 for noise-cancelling headphones and $325 for moisturizer.

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said HHS typically pays for goods lost during work trips if they are not “inherently for other uses” and that the department reimbursed Verma $2,852.40 for the claim.

"When paying for such goods, the department pays a discounted rate based on age for the items that were lost," the spokesperson told Politico. 

"It’s perfectly appropriate that the Administrator filed a personal property loss claim for goods stolen while on work travel and this is not an unusual practice for federal employees," an HHS spokesperson told The Hill in a statement.

A CMS spokesperson told Politico that HHS lawyers told Verma and two other staffers to file detailed claims for stolen luggage, adding that she was traveling with personal items because she travels between Washington and Indiana, where her family lives, each week. However, the spokesperson said the department cannot reimburse employees for lost items such as jewelry, according to the news outlet.

The report comes months after the HHS Office of Inspector General announced an investigation into reports Verma directed taxpayer dollars to GOP consultants to boost coverage of agency work and burnish Verma’s own image.

The Hill has also requested comment from CMS.

--This report was updated at 1:16 p.m.