LIHEAP Reform Effort Heads to Governor’s Desk, Causer Says
HARRISBURG – Legislation to bring much-needed accountability to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program will soon become law, Rep. Martin Causer (R-Turtlepoint) said today.

“These programs provide valuable services to people in need, but taxpayers cannot and should not have to foot the bill for people who try to cheat the system,” Causer said. “This legislation is another important piece of our effort to protect taxpayers and crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in welfare and other public assistance programs.”

Specifically, House Bill 1991 strengthens fraud reporting measures, expands whistleblower protections, and requires the use of the Income Eligibility Verification System to determine the eligibility of applicants for both LIHEAP and weatherization assistance.

The legislation was drafted after Auditor General Jack Wagner uncovered a LIHEAP fraud ring in Philadelphia County, in which 16 people, including several state employees, were charged with stealing more than $500,000 worth of LIHEAP funds. His audits also uncovered cases of recipients receiving benefits by using the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals.

Causer noted the legislation is just the latest in a series of welfare reforms enacted by the state House this session. Other measures include:

• Requiring the Department of Public Welfare 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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