|Governor Walker announced today improved results collecting fraudulent public assistance payments. Recommendations to improve public assistance program integrity were included in the Governor’s Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Commission final report.
“Public assistance is vital to help needy families get back on their feet,” said Governor Walker. “However, when benefits go to those who are ineligible that means fewer resources are available for true families in need. We have made strides to combat fraud, but more can always be done. My administration will continue to be diligent stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Because of the increased emphasis on preventing Public Assistance recipient fraud and abuse, benefit savings and recoveries in FoodShare and Medicaid have more than doubled from the first quarter of 2011 to that same time period in 2012, and the number of people disqualified for fraud has more than tripled.
The Department of Health Services (DHS) has also been conducting cross matches in Milwaukee County with the Milwaukee House of Corrections in order to ensure inmates there are not improperly receiving public assistance benefits. This has resulted in $198,997 returned to taxpayers and an anticipated $746,369 in additional savings for a total $945,366.
There have been 2,420 inmates reviewed through this program and 184 identified as having been incarcerated for 30 days or longer and on public assistance. These inmates were on medical assistance, FoodShare or a combination of public assistance programs. The Legislative Audit Bureau recently issued an evaluation on the FoodShare program, which identified several hundred inmates and fleeing felons receiving benefits. DHS is currently investigating every case and is taking appropriate action against those individuals who have intentionally violated rules of the program. The Department will work to recover any unallowable benefits. DHS anticipates a more automated, efficient system to cross match inmates in state correctional facilities in July of this year. There are currently over 21,000 inmates in adult institutions statewide.
The new Office of Inspector General (OIG) has already begun identifying state inmates currently on public assistance. The OIG will have additional staff tasked with ensuring no benefits are fraudulently paid by using cross checks with other states and federal data.
The OIG is already showing positive results. Below is a chart comparing benefits saved, overpayment claims, investigations, and suspensions compared to the first quarter of 2011. This includes Medicaid and FoodShare, but not other public assistance programs such as Wisconsin Shares or the W2 program that are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Children and Families.
These improved results are because of the great work of DHS staff, local agency and tribal fraud units as well as improved focus by the Governor and Legislature to protect tax dollars by reducing fraud.
Individuals can contact the OIG hotline at: 1-877-865-3432.