On Monday, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding answers on why foreign diplomats were reportedly defrauding US government benefits programs. Royce wrote:
I am deeply troubled by recent reports that dozens of Russian diplomats and their dependents apparently engaged in systematic Medicaid fraud while in the United States. I am writing to request further information about this matter and the Administration’s plans to address the law enforcement and diplomatic aspects.
The district attorney for the Southern District of New York has stated that 25 Russian diplomats and 24 spouses tried to get Medicaid benefits by lying about their income and claiming that their children were citizens. For years, they got away with it, actually netting $1.5 million in benefits according to the DA. Royce demanded that Kerry answer whether the Obama administration would ask the Russian government to waive immunity for the defendants, attempt to extradite those defendants outside the United States, or bill the Russian government for the fraud.
Royce also questioned why Department of State Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said on December 6 that foreign diplomats could “apply for and receive federally funded medical care.” Royce asked for information on “how many foreign diplomats have used these programs.”