CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien and House Finance Chairman Ken Weyler today offered the following comments regarding the recently issued request for proposals (RFP) by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that will implement House Bill 1658, a new law that requires that all individuals signing up for public assistance have a comprehensive background check to block welfare fraud. A report by one potential vendor suggested that there were potentially thousands of Medicaid and Food Stamp beneficiaries with primary addresses in other states, as well as many with substantial assets that should disqualify them from assistance. O’Brien and Weyler were sponsors of the amendment to require identity verification.
House Speaker William O’Brien
“I want to offer my thanks to Commissioner Toumpas and the staff at DHHS for moving quickly to implement this law to ensure that all those who apply for public assistance are truly eligible. Welfare fraud not only undermines our ability to provide aid to those who are truly in need, not just those looking to game the system, but it also corrodes the integrity of state government and the self-esteem of legitimate aid recipients. The hardworking taxpayers of New Hampshire deserve to know there will be no excuses. Taxpayers’ money will be spent wisely and we will take every step to end fraud in our welfare programs. This identity verification is a good first step, and we will work to reform our EBT system next year as we continue these efforts to bring honest and transparent government to our citizens.”
“I do have two small concerns with the RFP that I will be addressing with Commissioner Toumpas. One is relative to ensuring that DHHS works with the federal government to reward vendors for rooting our Food Stamp fraud. While Food Stamps are federally funded, our citizens are both state and federal taxpayers, so we want to make sure that vendors don’t ignore Food Stamp fraud because the state will not recognize the benefit in stopping it. Also, one provision of the RFP requires DHHS approval before being giving information to the media or other groups. We want to make sure that the Legislature and the public still have access to all information necessary to make appropriate policy decisions. I’m sure we can resolve these issues quickly, get a vendor in place, and begin to deliver both savings and integrity to our citizens in short order.”
House Finance Chairman Ken Weyler
“As I talk to voters across New Hampshire, a major recurring theme is their concern and anger about those individuals who are abusing the system to get welfare. That’s why I wholeheartedly joined this legislation as a sponsor. This is an important step to cleaning up our welfare rolls and saving the taxpayers considerable money. Citizens know that we are now headed in the right direction to having accountability in our welfare programs. This is among the first steps we will take over the next few years to reforming a state government that has been allowed to languish and ignore issues of integrity.”
Attachment (1): letter to Commissioner Toumpas