CONCORD – House Speaker William O’Brien today continued his meetings with those who work daily with the state’s electronic benefits transfer (EBT) program for delivering welfare services. Late this morning, he met with Mark Hopkins, owner of Hoppy’s Country Store in New Ipswich, and Janet Kalar, of Middleton, who worked as a cashier at Market Basket in Rochester, to discuss their concerns with the EBT system.
House Speaker William O’Brien
“Two more people who work on the front lines of the EBT program asked to come and meet with me to talk about the problems with the system, and we learned even more that the Legislature should address. Today, we heard about welfare recipients with multiple EBT cards, including those with multiple cards from different states, about the fact that these cards have no names listed on them and about concerns about a lack of responsiveness and guidance from the state’s fraud hotline. This is a program that is clearly overdue for needed reform, and we will certainly address these issues and others in the next legislative session. We have taken an important step towards stopping welfare fraud through the passage of a law to verify recipients’ identities, citizenship and assets (HB 1658), but it is becoming increasingly apparent that there remains much more to do to ensure that if we are asking our neighbors to give their money to those less fortunate, that it is being done in a way that those funds go only to people who are truly in need and for life’s real necessities.”