Listen – Senator Aument
HARRISBURG – Two senators are looking at ways to curb welfare fraud by increasing staff responsible for investigating claims regarding misuse of public benefits.
Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) are proposing a measure to hire additional staff within the Office of Inspector General with a sole focus of investigating claims about welfare misconduct.
Based on prior conversations with the Office of Inspector General, Argall and Aument believe the savings could be significant and would restore integrity to programs that provide assistance to those with a genuine need.
“The ‘War on Poverty’ has been a dismal 50 year failure,” Argall said. “Our state and federal welfare programs have been exploited by those who make a living on cheating the system. We are saying enough is enough. The taxpayers have had enough of giving too many people defrauding the system a free ride.”
Every dollar spent within the Office of Inspector General saves taxpayers $13. The senators said if you add some zeroes on to that figure, that’s significant.
“The people of Pennsylvania expect that we will do all that we can to find and eliminate the waste, fraud and abuse of government spending, programs and services,” Aument said. “This legislation fulfills our promise to everyone who believes cheaters should never win at the expense of taxpayers and ensures that we are helping those people who genuinely need help.”
Each welfare fraud investigator within the Office of Inspector General saves taxpayers approximately $1.28 million.
The senators are trying to expand the office by increasing the number of investigators with a sole focus on welfare fraud, abuse, misconduct and misuse.
Sens. Argall and Aument point to the instant success of a fraud hotline that was recently established as part of an overhaul to the state’s welfare laws. That law also included a name change of the Department of Public Welfare to the Department of Human Services. The hotline removed 3,000 individuals from receiving public assistance in 2014.
In their latest annual report for Fiscal Year 2014-15, the report showed that their Field Investigation Program conducted nearly 26,000 investigations that netted the state $87.6 million from public assistance that would have been paid out.