Ohio’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid are a necessary part of supporting citizens in need. With limited resources, it is imperative that money for these programs are directed as efficiently and appropriately as possible.  For these reasons, it is our duty to protect these programs from fraud and abuse.

Last year, the Ohio Auditor of State conducted a study and issued a report identifying certain weaknesses in these programs. For example, the study found 36 cases where a deceased person was still receiving benefits on their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards for SNAP. Among other instances, cards were misused and money was improperly allocated due to both fraud and distribution errors.

After reading these findings and researching best practices in other states, I joined with my colleague Representative Rob McColley and introduced House Bill 119, the Protecting Public Assistance Integrity Act. This bill makes changes to the administration of SNAP and Medicaid assistance to improve accountability and eradicate fraud. The bill requires more frequent cross-checks of databases, more efficient gathering of information to determine eligibility of recipients, an expanded list of items to check (such as lottery winnings, state residency, employment status and financial resources), and codifies existing practices to ensure the system runs as smoothly as possible. The bill also establishes a process for prosecution if fraudulent activity is discovered.

Ultimately, these simple changes to the way the programs are monitored and maintained will safeguard taxpayer funds. Every dollar which goes to someone who does not qualify is a dollar diverted from someone who truly needs it.  By making these reforms, the programs will operate more effectively, saving taxpayer dollars and allocating resources properly to those in need.

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