Getting Serious About Welfare Abuse

The Department of Public Welfare’s effort to curb fraud and abuse continues. This week the Department announced the creation of a new office, the Office of Program Integrity. This office will consolidate all department-wide efforts to prevent and detect fraud into one office without the need for new staff or funds. The new office will work closely with the Inspector General’s office, the state’s welfare fraud investigation entity.

The new office is the latest in the department’s attempt to clean house. The department testified two times this fall exposing the gross abuses of limited welfare funds. In late October, DPW announced $34 million in savings by simply reviewing the 154,000 cases up for evaluation and enforcing eligibility rules. And they’re not done yet; DPW still has over 40,000 cases to review. In September, the Secretary Gary Alexander announced he was looking at Reverse Health Savings Accounts for Medicaid patients.

As welfare has now become the largest department in the state General Fund budget, and remains among the fastest in spending growth, efforts to reduce fraud and abuse and overhaul a broken system will be key to balancing future budgets and saving taxpayers.