This week I voted to advance SF 389 out of the Senate Commerce Committee to address fraud in Iowa’s public assistance programs. In 2019, Iowa was fined approximately $2 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a nearly 10% error rate in the administration of a welfare program. The goal of welfare programs is to provide assistance to those individuals meeting the required criteria, like being a resident of Iowa, a citizen of the United States, and with limited income or assets.
The current process on identifying eligibility for welfare programs in Iowa is outdated and significantly more efficient processes are available. An abundance of consumer data is readily available from federally regulated companies to confirm in real time if someone applying for public assistance is doing so properly. These organizations can check the assets, employment, residency, and citizenship in a matter of moments. Every individual improperly receiving benefits takes up resources intended for someone legitimately in need.
Rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in order to protect taxpayer dollars is a key role of the Legislature. More accurate administration of welfare benefits in Iowa will save taxpayers from being cheated by fraudsters and also protects against future penalties from the federal government for not administering the program as carefully as necessary.