Chairmen Royce, Camp Seek Answers from IRS on Foreign Diplomats Receiving Taxpayer Funded Benefits

Oct 29, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen seeking information after learning that foreign diplomats working in the United States are eligible for subsidized health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Specifically, the letter asks how many have enrolled in ACA and the total cost of all subsidies given to foreign diplomats.   
 
In a letter to IRS Commission Koskinen, Chairmen Royce and Camp wrote: “Many Americans would be surprised to learn that their tax dollars may be subsidizing health coverage for foreign diplomats. The Committees on Foreign Affairs and Ways and Means are investigating the extent to which these diplomats receive taxpayer-subsidized premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  We are seeking to determine how many such individuals participate in these programs and the total cost of such benefits. … We fully support the ability of foreign diplomats to purchase health care coverage in the United States.  We do not, however, believe that American taxpayers should subsidize these services.”
 
NOTE: Today’s letter follows repeated requests from the Foreign Affairs Committee for additional information about foreign diplomats’ access to subsidized healthcare.  After the arrest of 25 Russian diplomats for attempting to illegally obtain Medicaid benefits in December of 2013, the Committee sent a letter to Secretary Kerry  requesting information on the arrest and the eligibility of foreign diplomats receiving government-funded medical benefits.  In January and April, the Committee also sent letters to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding foreign diplomats’ eligibility to receive Obamacare.  In a response on September 30, HHS confirmed foreign diplomats’ eligibility for government subsidized healthcare.
 
The signed letter and referenced attachments are available HERE.
 
The text of the letter follows:
 
October 29, 2014
 
The Honorable John Koskinen
Commissioner
Internal Revenue Service
1111 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20224
 
Dear Commissioner Koskinen:
 
Many Americans would be surprised to learn that their tax dollars may be subsidizing health coverage for foreign diplomats. The Committees on Foreign Affairs and Ways and Means are investigating the extent to which these diplomats receive taxpayer-subsidized premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  We are seeking to determine how many such individuals participate in these programs and the total cost of such benefits.  As the agency principally responsible for administering health coverage tax credits, we request that you provide this information as soon as possible.
 
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, foreign diplomats holding “A” or “G” visas are eligible to participate in an array of medical programs administered by the federal government, including participation in Health Insurance Marketplaces governed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Secretary of Health and Human Services has informed the Committee on Foreign Affairs that, if they meet basic ACA requirements, “a foreign diplomat could satisfy the statutory criteria to be eligible for a premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions.”  The State Department has gone so far as to advertise to Foreign Missions, Permanent Missions to the United Nations, and the United Nations Secretariat that health care exchanges and “the benefits of the United States Affordable Care Act are available” to them.
 
The Foreign Affairs Committee has sought to determine the number of diplomats receiving coverage and subsides under the ACA.  Unfortunately, the State Department has informed the Foreign Affairs Committee that it “is not involved in the process through which foreign diplomats obtain government-funded benefits” and cannot provide that data.  The Department of Health and Human Services is likewise unable to provide this information.  Specifically, it noted that “[t]he Department does not collect data that identify whether individuals receiving services through our medical programs have diplomatic status.”  Similarly, “the Department does not collect data that identifies whether individuals receiving tax credits and/or cost sharing reductions have diplomatic status.”  Copies of these letters are attached for your reference.
 
We fully support the ability of foreign diplomats to purchase health care coverage in the United States.  We do not, however, believe that American taxpayers should subsidize these services.  To assist with our oversight of this matter, we ask that you please provide the following information as soon as possible, but not later than 5:00 p.m. on November 12, 2014.
 
1. The total number, including from which country, of all non-immigrant, non-citizen “A” and “G” visa holders who are eligible for, and who have received, premium tax credits for qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act;
 
2. The total number, including from which country, of all non-immigrant, non-citizen “A” and “G” visa holders who are eligible for, and who have received, cost-sharing reductions for qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act; and
 
3. The total cost, and cost per individual, of all subsidies provided to the individuals above.
 
We fully expect the IRS to communicate with the Department of Health and Human Services and other entities to obtain any and all information necessary to respond to this request.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Counsel for Oversight and Investigations Thomas Alexander at 202-225-5021, or Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Staff Director Mark Epley at 202-225-3625.
 
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
 
Sincerely,
 
EDWARD R. ROYCE                                         
Chairman
Committee on Foreign Affairs
 
DAVE CAMP
Chairman
Committee on Ways and Means
 

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