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March 6, 2018

SNAP, Other programs for the poor will be 'reviewed frequently' if GOP bill passes

Lottery winnings, change of address, etc. to be checked regularly

FRANKFORT— Legislation aimed at rooting out fraud from the state’s Medicaid and food stamps programs has passed the Kentucky House.

 

House Bill 363 sponsor Rep. Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, said the bill would require the state to track enrollees in the programs at set intervals for changes in eligibility based on lottery winnings, employment, changes in residency, or other life changes.

Any “change in circumstances” that could affect someone’s eligibility for Medicaid benefit or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits-- formerly known as food stamps-- would require a review of that individual’s case, according to the bill. No waiver of SNAP requirements would be allowed unless the state unemployment rate reaches at least 10 percent, or by determination of the state.

“Essentially, the bill is an attempt to turn back the fraud and abuse in these programs,” said Huff. She said examples of fraud have included lottery winners not reporting their income and SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards being sold for profit.

Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, challenged the legislation, asking why supporters of the bill feel the state should “police the poor.”

“It seems to me, if the federal government wanted to set up some guidelines on these, they would set the guidelines themselves,” said Wayne.

HB 363 supporter Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, said the bill is needed because many who don’t need the benefits are taking them away from those who do.

“The real shame is when someone who does not (qualify) pushes a child or someone who is truly disabled out of line,” he said.

HB 363, which is also sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, cleared the House by a vote of 63-32. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 

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