Cutler Renews Push to Reduce Welfare Fraud
6/11/2009
Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) is renewing his calls for the House of Representatives to consider legislation that would bring tighter controls to the distribution of welfare funding, following the filing of charges against 16 state and city of Philadelphia employees involved in a scheme that allegedly defrauded almost a half-million dollars from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
 
“The charges filed in Philadelphia demonstrate the need for improved oversight of state welfare programs,” said Cutler. “The greed and total disregard for impoverished Pennsylvanians, as allegedly displayed by these public employees, is beyond despicable. We must do a better job of ensuring that public money is not being squandered.”
 
Cutler recently introduced House Bill 1638, which would reduce welfare fraud by requiring the Department of Welfare to: 
  • Issue photo identification to LIHEAP recipients.
  • Establish a computerized income eligibility verification system to eliminate duplication and fraud by matching Social Security numbers against a comprehensive data matrix.
  • Create a case review system for instances where discrepancies are found.
  • Require the department to provide a written report to the governor, General Assembly and State Inspector General.
  • Establish the Office of Program Compliance for LIHEAP.
  • Better train public employees handling LIHEAP funds, including county assistance office staff and crisis contractors. 
“Instead of talking about tax increases, Gov. Ed Rendell and House Democrats should focus on commonsense, cost-saving measures such as my legislation,” said Cutler. “The Commonwealth will likely end the fiscal year with a $3.2 billion deficit; every dollar during this time of financial crisis counts.”
 
Cutler noted that Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who filed the charges, was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, “The way this program was administered practically assured that both fraud and theft would flourish. There was a total failure of supervision, oversight [and] insistence on checks and balances.”
 
Information regarding the grand jury findings that led to the filing of charges is available at Cutler’s Web site, RepCutler.com, by accessing the Welfare Reform link.
 
House Bill 1638 is awaiting consideration by the House Health and Human Services Committee. Cutler has also introduced House Bill 1637, which would require a similar system of verification for the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Weatherization Assistance Program.
 
Rep. Bryan Cutler
100th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(717) 786-4551
(717) 783-6424
Contact: Nicole Wamsley
(717) 783-8063
Member Site: RepCutler.com
Caucus Site: PAHouseGOP.com