Brown Votes to Continue Fight Against Welfare Fraud
HARRISBURG – Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) this week joined her colleagues in advancing legislation that seeks to eliminate fraud and abuse within two important state programs.

House Bill 1991, which passed the House with bipartisan support, would require the use of the Income Eligibility Verification System to determine an applicant’s eligibility for both the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the state’s Weatherization Program. The programs are administered by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), respectively.

The LIHEAP program offers home heating assistance in the form of cash or crisis grants, and the Weatherization Program provides help in making home efficiency modifications. In many cases, LIHEAP grants can help fix a broken furnace and weatherization funds can help seal drafty windows in an effort to keep heating costs down.

“These programs are devoted to helping people afford to heat their homes or find ways to be more energy efficient,” Brown said. “The fact that ineligible recipients have deliberately taken state dollars away from those who are in need is alarming, and that’s why I believe measures like House Bill 1991 must be in place to protect taxpayers and to lend credibility to two programs that have helped so many.”

Specifically, House Bill 1991 also would strengthen fraud reporting measures; protect whistle-blowers; apply criminal penalties for state workers and contractors who explicitly allow the fraud and abuse to occur; and mandate a conflict of interest policy.

“The income eligibility database we’re mandating for LIHEAP and the Weatherization Program has already been implemented for several other welfare programs, and it’s time the same standards are similarly applied,” Brown said. “This legislation is designed to deter fraud and abuse before they happen, and we expect that recipients who have a clear need for this assistance will continue to receive it. This will help ensure that every dollar set aside for this program – whether through state or federal funding – can better assist those who are in need.”

The legislation now moves to the state Senate for its consideration.

State Representative Rosemary M. Brown
189th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
Share |