Fraud, Abuse of Wisconsin Shares Program Continues

MacIver News Service | July 15, 2010 [Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin Shares continues to be subjected to waste, fraud and abuse according to the latest report from the Department of Children and Families, which runs the program aimed to help low-income families pay for child care.

However, Reggie Bicha, the Department’s Secretary, informs lawmakers that efforts to crackdown on overpayments have helped place the program on the rebound.

“We are confident that these efforts have also had a significant impact in the Department spending over $46 million less in Wisconsin Shares payments than the Act 28 bugeted level,” wrote Bicha. “This has been an important year of progress for the Shares program, and I appreciate the opportunity to share this information with the Committee.”

The Department has been required to provide the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance with monthly reports since mid 2009 after widespread reports of abuse within the program.

In June, the Department of Children and Families spent $196,300 on fraud prevention and investigation, and had $29,044 in expenses related to recovering overpayments due to error or fraud.

As a result of those expenditures, DCF recovered $133,356 in overpayments and/or restitution in June ($70,575 in child care overpayments to individuals and $62,781 in overpayments to child care providers).

$174,570 in overpayments to suspended providers were newly reported this month, bringing the cumulative total overpayments to suspended child care providers in the program to more than $5.3 million. $2.3 million of which has been collected, leaving $3.0 million in overpayments still being pursued.

Two more child care providers were suspended from participating in Wisconsin Shares in June, bringing the total number of suspended providers to nearly 150.

Thursday’s notice was the last for the fiscal year. To date, the department has spent $1.7 million for staff-related costs that support fraud prevention, investigation and overpayment collection activities.