Senators sent letter to Verma threatening to compel her testimony on Medicaid fraud

Seema Verma speaking at press conference
Senators sent a letter Tuesday calling on CMS Administrator Seema Verma to testify on Medicaid fraud. (whitehouse.gov)

Two top senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have threatened to pursue actions to compel CMS Administrator Seema Verma to testify in front of their committee. 

Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who chairs the committee and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a ranking member, wrote in the letter they want her to testify in their examination of the Medicaid program's vulnerability to fraud and overpayments. The letter (PDF) was obtained and first reported by Politico.

RELATED: Senate Finance Committee votes on CMS pick Seema Verma

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"We ask that your testimony discuss the efforts of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to fight Medicaid fraud and overpayments and how CMS safeguards taxpayer dollars in the Medicaid program," the letter said. 

They also said the committee has sought Verma's testimony since April 20, but that she's declined to confirm she will testify, offering a subordinate CMS official in her place.

This is no small problem the committee seeks to discuss. It cost taxpayers more than $60 billion in 2016, Kaiser Health News reported. During her confirmation hearings, Verma called finding solutions for healthcare fraud a "top priority" and said she'd aim to be “be on the front end” of identifying fraud, rather than taking a “pay-and-chase” approach, reported McKnight's Long-Term Care News.

RELATED: State agencies lead fight against Medicaid fraud

"We believe that you, as the Senate-confirmed leader of CMS, are the best and most-appropriate witness to testify on behalf of the agency about an issue of such importance to the integrity of the Medicaid program," the letter said.  

They said if they do not receive confirmation by May 21, they may be forced to seek alternative means to compel her testimony, also known as a subpoena.