Causer Praises Reforms in Welfare Budget
Working to protect taxpayers and put a stop to fraud in the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), the state House has adopted a series of welfare reform measures as part of the 2011-12 state budget, said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint).
“Welfare spending skyrocketed 62 percent during the Rendell administration, due in large part to their unwillingness to take action despite significant evidence of waste, fraud and abuse in the system,” Causer said. “The welfare system must be accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, and these reforms represent an important step toward that goal.”
House Bill 960 requires DPW to use an electronic cross-reference system to provide a 19-point check on an applicant’s eligibility and create a standard fraud detection system to stop fraud before it starts. It also requires the department to subject drug felons who are applying for benefits or already receiving benefits to random drug testing. This will ensure welfare benefits are not being used to subsidize drug abuse.
The measure clarifies that people are only eligible for benefits based on the levels allowed in their county of residence, regardless of where they apply. This is important because cash benefit levels different from count to county, which has prompted some to “shop around” for the highest benefit rates.
Finally, House Bill 960 requires an overhaul of the fraud-laden Special Allowance Program.
“The welfare system is meant to help those who truly need it, and every dollar wasted or spent fraudulently takes support away from people in need, and from every single taxpayer in the Commonwealth,” Causer said. “It’s time to put a stop to it.”
While Causer is pleased to see these four reforms incorporated into the budget, he said lawmakers will continue their efforts to enact additional reforms outlined earlier this year in the House Republican WelFAIR (Fairness, Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility) proposal:
- Using photo identification to make sure benefits aren’t misused.
- Strengthening legal penalties for those who commit welfare fraud.
- Reducing abuse in a welfare program that helps people truly in need get to and from doctor appointments, pharmacy visits, methadone clinics, dialyses treatments, physical therapy and other medical appointments.
- Prohibiting the purchase of tobacco with welfare benefit cards.
For more information about the WelFAIR initiative, visit RepCauser.com.
State Representative Martin Causer
67th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Patricia Hippler