House Republicans urge Governor to make welfare fraud unit a priority to ensure scarce resources are spent on Maine’s most vulnerable citizens
STATEHOUSE – Maine House Republicans are urging Governor Mills to make the Welfare Fraud Unit a priority after a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) report showed that Seventy percent (70%) of calls and allegations made to the Fraud Investigations and Recovery Unit (FIRU) were found to be legitimate. Statistics are contained in the DHHS press release below.
“Republicans want Maine’s most vulnerable citizens, the ones truly in need, to be the priority when it comes to the expenditure of limited taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Beth O’Connor (R-Berwick). “For too long the public has been told that welfare fraud either doesn’t exist or that it is insignificant. If you don’t look for something, you won’t find it. This report clearly demonstrates that more can and should be done to identify and prosecute those who take food from the mouths of people and families in need.”
DHHS PRESS RELEASE:
2018 Welfare Fraud Annual Update
AUGUSTA – Pursuant to MRSA Title 22-A, Chapter 1, §206, The Department is releasing fraud statistics from the 2018 calendar year. In 2018, the Fraud Investigations and Recovery Unit (FIRU) of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) received a total of 1,160 calls and allegations of potential fraud cases. Of those, 811 were found to be legitimate and have been processed for further review and possible investigation. Calls not referred for investigation involved reports of persons who were not actually receiving benefits, lacked information to identify a specific client, or contained incorrect information.
FIRU Investigators presented 25 cases to the Attorney General’s Office for potential prosecution. An additional 46 cases were filed with local District Attorney’s Offices. FIRU also aided Federal Agencies in the investigation of two separate cases for alleged theft. For numbers related to the prosecution of the cases, please contact the Attorney General’s Office or the local District Attorney Offices.
FIRU investigates cases of fraud involving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and MaineCare, as well as fraud relating to General Assistance or Housing Assistance from local municipalities. The Department of Health and Human Services is committed to improving the program’s integrity and operational effectiveness. If you want to report potential fraud, you can do so online or by calling the state’s Fraud Hotline at 1-866-348-1129.
Online Fraud Reporting Form: www.maine.gov/dhhs/fraud