Causer Supports LIHEAP Reform Effort
HARRISBURG – Continuing its commitment to ending waste, fraud and abuse in the Commonwealth’s public assistance programs, the state House has approved legislation to bring accountability to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said.

LIHEAP provides cash grants and crisis grants to help qualified individuals pay their heating bills or replace or repair heating equipment; however, the Office of the Auditor General has identified a significant number of fraudulent claims in the program over the last several years, including more than 500 households that received $162,000 in benefits using the Social Security numbers of people who were deceased.

“LIHEAP provides a valuable service to people in need,” Causer said. “But when someone defrauds the system, they are putting the people who truly need help at risk, and they are stealing money from the taxpayers. We need to be vigilant and put a stop to such abuses.”

House Bill 1991 requires the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) to use the Income Eligibility Verification System to ensure applicants for LIHEAP funds qualify for assistance. The bill also outlines a process for reporting suspected fraud and provides whistleblower protections to the reporters.

Causer noted the bill, which now awaits action in the Senate, is just the latest in a series of welfare reforms enacted by the state House this session. Other measures include: 

        • Requiring 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. 
        • Requiring 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. 
        • Clarifying 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 differ from county to county, which has prompted 
          some to “shop around” for the highest benefit rates. 
        • Calling for an overhaul of the fraud-laden Special Allowance Program.

State Representative Martin Causer
67th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler
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