When you or someone you know fall on hard times, like after a sudden job loss, assistance programs are there to fill in the gaps until you get back on your feet. In Ohio, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and more to help citizens in need. But like anything else, fraud can exist in these programs, which leads to a waste of taxpayer money that should be going towards the truly needy.

Last year, the Ohio Auditor of State issued a report identifying certain weaknesses in these programs. For example, regarding SNAP and Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, there were 36 cases where a deceased person was still receiving benefits. Among other instances, the cards were clearly being misused rather than purchasing groceries for a family in need. This was due to both fraudulent use by recipients and poor management of the program.

That’s why I voted in support of House Bill 119, which makes changes to the administration of SNAP and Medicaid assistance to improve accountability and cut down on fraud. More frequent cross-checks of databases, on a quarterly basis, and more efficient gathering of information to determine eligibility of recipients are among the reforms to ensure the right people are getting the help they need.

Ultimately, these are simple changes to the way these programs are monitored and maintained, keeping databases up-to-date and ensuring taxpayer funded aid goes to the correct individual. Keeping those reforms in mind, I also voted for House Bill 50, which will require the EBT cards as a part of SNAP to include a photograph of one adult in the household. This change is an effort to prevent trafficking of these cards, which has been discovered by law enforcement to be a form of payment for illegal substances like drugs.

At the end of the day, these bills are simply a way to clean up the administration of these programs and deter fraudulent activity, whether intentional or not. By making these reforms, the programs will operate more effectively, saving taxpayer dollars and ensuring that those who need assistance will get the help more quickly.

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