In 2013, the Secretary of State (SOS) released an audit regarding public assistance programs which revealed $2.8 million of inaccurate payments. Among a variety of several other inaccuracies, the audit determined 251 Oregon Lottery winners with winnings of more than $5,000 received food stamps, including one person who won more than $900,000.
Because of this, former Rep. Carolyn Tomei from Milwaukie and I formed the Public Assistance Program Integrity Workgroup. Not only did we discover there was an issue with the lottery sharing and notification piece, but cardholders selling their card for 50 cents on the dollar.
The SOS audit revealed within a three year time period, 37,300 cards were reported to have been replaced by the same cardholder five or more times. Generally, the continued multiple card replacement requests from the same cardholder is a good indication of the amount of cards being sold for cash.
Since the SOS audit, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has been working hard to reduce fraud, abuse, and lower the dollar amount of inaccurate payments. For example, in 2013 DHS began piloting a centralized process for replacing lost or stolen cards. Instead of allowing card replacement at a local DHS office, the new process involves customers requesting a replacement card by calling a toll-free number and receiving the replacement card by mail within five days. This reduces the workload for DHS employees, decreases the number of replacement cards issued and reduces the risk of fraud. The total cards replaced in the month of June of 2012 compared to the month of June of 2013 shows a decrease of over 4,000 replacement cards.
After the workgroup report was released last year, I introduced a bill in the 2014 Short Legislative Session requiring the Department of Human Services (DHS) to place the cardholders picture on the card. The bill did not move forward. This year, I introduced three different bills addressing the fraudulent issue, while also ensuring those in need are not hindered.
HB 2394 - Lottery Winnings Data Notification
Currently, the Oregon Lottery does not allow for a data match of their winners with DHS clients. This measure would require Lottery to notify DHS of prize winnings of $1,250 or more within seven days of payout, identifying name and other available information regarding the winner of the prize and amount of prize.
HB 2393 - Recovery from Lottery Winnings
In creating an avenue for Lottery to share winnings with DHS, this concept would establish a data match process identifying lottery winners who are delinquent in paying benefit overpayments, giving the State an opportunity to recover an estimated $209,952 per biennium.
HB 2392 - Printed Names of Cardholders
This concept would require DHS to print the cardholder's name on the respective Oregon Trail card only after the cardholder replaces their card.
These bills received a work session this week in the House Judiciary Committee and will be moving to the House Floor for a vote. I am hopeful all three concepts continue moving forward.