Sep. 27, 2017

By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
A 2016 audit of the Department of Human Services found millions of dollars in state public assistance benefit funds were paid out to recipients who are deceased.

According to the audit, 2,324 deceased individuals received $693,161 in public assistance funds on their EBT accounts between July 2013 and June 2014.

Digging deeper into some of these accounts, investigators found that benefits paid to deceased recipients were still being used to make purchases.

Auditors also found that more than $70 million a year in public assistance funds over a three-year period were being spent out-of-state.

During that period, more than $14 million was spent in Florida, and purchases were made in all 50 states, including popular holiday destinations like North Carolina and Hawaii.

Recently introduced legislation in the state House aims to stop this waste of taxpayer money.

House Bill 1614 would require DHS to regularly cross-reference its list of welfare recipients with the death records maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Social Security Administration.

Funds that would have gone to deceased individuals would be redirected to help those truly in need or reverted back to the state’s General Fund.

The bill has been referred to the House Health Committee.