Why Federal Programs Need Eligibility Verification

One of the current problems with ObamaCare is that there is no way to verify a person’s income when they ask for a government subsidy to help pay for their health insurance. One aspect of the negotiations currently taking place in Washington is making sure that the people applying for subsidies are actually entitled to them. Generally speaking, can we trust people to take only what they are entitled to? Well, recent events indicate that we need to verify.

Yesterday MSN Money reported that there had been a computer glitch in the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transfer card system and that stores had no way of reading the balance on the cards. The article reports what happened at one Wal-Mart.

The article reports:

Lynd explained the cards weren’t showing limits and they called corporate Wal-Mart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Wal-Mart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

 Lynd (Springhill Louisiana Police Chief Will Lynd) says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left.”

Unfortunately there are people among us who have no problem taking something they are not entitled to. To put a government program in place that promises benefits without checking eligibility is simply stupid. There will always be people trying to game the system, we don’t have to make it too easy!


Enhanced by Zemanta

Some Good News On The Massachusetts State Budget

According to today’s Boston Herald, there is actually some good news in the 2014 Massachusetts State Budget. Thanks to the efforts of Sen. William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) and several others, MBTA pension data will now be subject to the public records law.

The article reports:

But the MBTA’s share of pension contributions increased 42 percent between 2007 and 2011, from $30 million to $52.3 million. Those “contributions” come from you, dear T rider or state taxpayer. Don’t you think you have a right to know what your money is buying?

If Gov. Deval Patrick signs the budget provision as written, you will.

Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) has been the leader on several taxpayer-friendly legislative initiatives since she has been in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She has worked to end fraud in the electronic benefit transfer card program (EBT) and to eliminate fraud in the Mass Health medical assistance program.

The article reminds us that subjecting the MBTA pension program to the public records law is a step forward, but it also suggests that the governor and legislature should also be subject to that law.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Hope For Massachusetts

Shaunna O'ConnellLast night I had the pleasure of meeting Massachusetts State Representative Shaunna O’Connell. Shaunna represents the Third Bristol District, which includes most of her hometown of Taunton and Precinct 6 in Easton. Shaunna was elected in 2010. Since taking office she has worked to reform the Electronic Benefits Program (EBT) in Massachusetts, which has been rife with fraud. She has worked for more accountability to the taxpayers of Massachusetts and more transparency in how taxpayer money is spent. We definitely could use more Representatives like Shaunna in Boston.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Are The Rights Of A Private Vendor ?

Today’s Boston Herald posted a story about Andrea Taber, owner of the Ever So Humble Pie Co. in Walpole. Ms. Tabor sells her pies at the Braintree market on Fridays. She has caused a controversy by refusing to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards as payment for her pies at the market.

The article reports:

“I don’t think American taxpayers should be footing the bill for people’s pie purchases,” said Andrea Taber, proprietor of the Ever So Humble Pie Co. in Walpole, who peddles her wares at the Braintree market on Fridays and now finds herself in the middle of the state’s raging fight over welfare benefits.

The article concludes:

Businesses must apply and be approved to accept EBT cards, and normally are not obliged to do so. Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Daniel Curley said the state wants welfare recipients to “access healthy food,” but he declined to weigh in on whether farmers markets that choose to accept EBT cards can compel their vendors to take part.

I have very mixed emotions on this issue. I would like to think that EBT cards are used to make healthy food purchases, but I really don’t like the idea of anyone being able to control another person’s food purchases. The issue is complicated by the fact that the taxpayers are paying for those food purchases, but it still feels intrusive to me.

It will be interesting to see how this controversy ends.


Enhanced by Zemanta

When Elected Officials Ignore The Wishes Of Their Constituents

No, this is not an article about President Obama and healthcare–it is an article about the misuse of the cards given to welfare recipients. In Massachusetts we have what are called EBT cards, which allow people collecting welfare to purchase food for their families.

The Boston Herald is reporting today that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick vetoed the reforms of the EBT card laws.

The article reports:

While signing the state’s $32.5 billion budget yesterday, Patrick rejected an outside section containing the welfare benefits card reforms that had been hammered out with bi-partisan support in the House and Senate — an effort spearheaded by House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).

The reforms would have banned EBT buys of guns, porn, tattoos, jewelry and manicures. He allowed the banning of EBT cards in tattoo parlors, gun shops, casinos, cruise ships, strip clubs and adult entertainment centers, saying the independent EBT Card Commission had ruled out the idea of banning specific products “for reasons of feasibility, enforceability (and) cost.”

The purpose of the EBT card is to allow people in need to provide food and necessities to themselves and their families. To allow these cards to be used for non-necessities is unfair to the taxpayers who may be going without these luxuries in order to pay their tax bills!

Enhanced by Zemanta