House Health Committee Examines Cutler LIHEAP Reform Bill
HARRISBURG – The House Health Committee today held a public hearing in Harrisburg to study Rep. Bryan Cutler’s (R-Peach Bottom) House Bill 1991, which would increase oversight and income verification standards for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Weatherization Assistance Program.

“The fraud and misuse uncovered in these programs is astounding, especially considering the backlogs of truly needy citizens who are unable to receive assistance and spend years on waiting lists,” said Cutler. “It is the duty of state government to ensure that taxpayer-funded programs are properly managed and that funds are targeted to those citizens who are truly in need.”

House Bill 1991, which was authored with the cooperation of Rep. Ron Waters (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), would require the departments with oversight authority of LIHEAP and the weatherization program to verify the income eligibility of program applicants. It also would require an offset of LIHEAP funds if weatherization upgrades using taxpayer dollars are made to a property.

To further thwart fraud, Cutler’s legislation would codify a requirement for employees, contractors, applicants and recipients to report suspected cases of fraud to the Office of Inspector General.

Waters expressed dismay about the misuse of funds meant to help underprivileged Pennsylvanians. “We must go after people who abuse the system,” he said.

House Bill 1991 also would direct the Auditor General to conduct periodic performance audits of the programs to indentify fraud.

Auditor General Jack Wagner testified at today’s hearing, expressing his support for the legislation, but cautioning that lawmakers need to ensure his office has the appropriate resources to assume the specified duties.

Wagner has been instrumental in identifying issues with LIHEAP and other assistance programs. His investigations have led to in-depth audits of federally funded programs in other states.

Other testifiers at the hearing were J. Michael Love, vice president of government affairs for UGI Utilities; Harry Geller, executive director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project; Lynette Praster, director of Conservation and Weatherization at the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED); and Neil Lesher, deputy director of legislative affairs with the Department of Public Welfare.

Geller conveyed concern regarding the offset provisions in the legislation. He explained how weatherization can help alleviate the need for crisis assistance, but not necessarily cash grants. He described how the price of heating one’s home has increased, but the amount of LIHEAP funding per household has actually decreased.

Cutler agreed to work with advocates for the needy and staff members at DCED and DPW, who testified about the need to address the administrative costs of the legislation.

“Ultimately my goal is to develop the most effective legislation to ensure that we stop people from stealing from the poor and from Pennsylvania’s taxpayers,” said Cutler. “I thank the members of the committee and today’s participants for their input. This process will be very helpful in strengthening our efforts to safeguard LIHEAP and weatherization funds.”

House Bill 1991 is awaiting the consideration of the House Health Committee.

More information is available at or

State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Nicole Wamsley
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