Seema Verma who, as a senior figure in the Trump administration, has made it more difficult for poor Americans to access health coverage, has filed a claim of $47,000 for the loss of her luggage while on a three-day work trip.
According to Politico, Verma filed the claim on 28 August 2018 after having her luggage stolen while giving a speech in San Francisco. Her expenses included 20 pieces of jewellery, which sounds reasonable for a three day-work trip – if you are Snoop Dogg.
She had originally estimated the cost of those pieces at $20,000, but came back with the higher $43,065 price tag after visiting a jeweler three weeks after the theft. Because sometimes you’re just that rich that you forget about that extra 20 grand you dropped at the jewelers.
Verma is the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is responsible for Medicare, the US health insurance program for seniors and Medicaid, the program for low-income Americans.
The jewellery claim included 11 pairs of earrings, five necklaces and three pendants. In evidence that shows money does not equal class, one of those pendants was this Ivanka Trump gold, prasiolite and diamond pendant, which looks like it was picked by the claw machine in an arcade.
The government spends approximately $5,700 per Medicaid patient. That means that the bill she tried to get the taxpayer to foot (the CMS only granted a $2,852.40 reimbursement) is roughly equivalent to what the government spends on eight Medicaid patients yearly.
You may be wondering what she was doing with all that jewellery. Swapping out weights in the gym for travel-friendly lifting? Not quite – according to a CMS spokesperson, Verma takes a large collection of jewelry when she travels, because she “travels to Washington DC from Indiana each week to work at CMS.”
Shouldn’t someone who values their expensive items have at least been insured? Verma, a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility when it comes to health insurance (she has suggested low-income families do unpaid community service to pay towards it) had not insured her items. Verma has condemned Medicare for All, calling it a “scary” and “bad” idea that would “bankrupt future generations”. So maybe it’s just a little bit rich that she thought the taxpayer should pick up her uninsured jewellery bill.
Did I get your attention? Good. Medicare for All isn’t a joke. It’s a multi-trillion dollar drain on the American economy that will bankrupt future generations. It’s government controlled health care that will strip choice away from millions. It’s a bad idea. And it IS scary.— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) November 1, 2018
Joe Kennedy, a Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, pointed out to Politico that, “The irony is not lost on me that an administrator of healthcare services for tens of millions of people had decided to forgo insurance and was looking for a government bailout. That’s the entire point of insurance.”
Verma, who to be fair is glowing, also filed a claim for a $345 moisturizer and about $2,000 towards stolen clothes.
If there’s one ray of light it’s that the CMS were unaware of a federal health employee who has filed such a large claim in the past.
“Medicaid is too vital a program to let fraud and inappropriate spending threaten it,” Verma said during the speech she made on the trip in question, in San Francisco in 2018. Which is why she should back Kennedy’s call for her to resign.
In the past, she has come under fire for the steering of more than $2m on public relations contractors, some of whom were bolstering her personal brand. She should probably give them a call.
This article was amended on 10 December 2019 to clarify that Verma filed the claim in 2018, and that the requested claim amount was roughly equal to eight Medicaid patients, rather than Medicare.