Gov. Scott Walker Releases New Strategies to Combat Public Assistance Fraud

MacIver News Service | September 20, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor Scott Walker directed the Department of Health Services (DHS) on Friday to begin implementing six new strategies aimed at increasing fraud prevention for public assistance benefits.

The Governor said his plan will protect “taxpayer dollars and make sure only those who are truly eligible are receiving benefits and services through the state’s public assistance programs.”

Strategies proposed by Walker include developing an Error Prone Profile module that can identify cases that need further verification at the time of application, requiring BadgerCare and FoodShare applicants to provide tax returns if they are self-employed, and increasing data exchanges between multiple departments for more efficient data processing, among others.

This plan would continue the efforts started by Walker’s administration when the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was created in the 2011-2013 state budget. According to the release, OIG collected or avoided over $12 million in public assistance fraud in 2012 and nearly $8 million in the first six months of 2013.

DHS is backing the Governor’s plan to implement these new fraud prevention tactics. “One of the Department’s top priorities is to make sure we are providing essential safety net benefits, like BadgerCare Plus and FoodShare to individuals and families in poverty while ensuring Wisconsin’s valuable taxpayer dollars are being spent in the most efficient, effective way possible,” said DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades.

The MacIver Institute has previously covered the vast array of waste, fraud and abuse that many public assistance programs face. An audit in 2012 found that prison inmates and others who did not qualify for food stamps received more than $2 million in federally funded FoodShare benefits in the Badger State alone.

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), were happy to see Walker renew his efforts to battle waste, fraud and abuse in Wisconsin.

“We strongly support Governor Walker on his latest efforts to protect taxpayers and make sure benefits are available to those who are truly struggling. Unfortunately, some take advantage of the system which in turn hurts taxpayers and the people who rely on these benefits,” Darling and Nygren told the MacIver News Service in a joint statement. “People who follow the rules are being punished by those who break the rules and that must change.”

DHS will submit quarterly reports to JFC with updates on their progress.

More information about the enhanced fraud prevention tactic can be seen here.