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COLUMBUS — State officials would conduct more frequent checks of tax, real estate and other records of residents receiving public assistance through certain programs to ensure they are eligible, under legislation being introduced in the Ohio House and Senate.
Reps. Mike Henne (R-Clayton) and Robert McColley (R-Napoleon) and Sen. Bill Coley (R-West Chester) announced the bills as part of efforts to cut down on fraud in Medicaid and food stamp programs.
“Let me emphasize: This is not removing benefits for people who really are in need of assistance,” Henne said.
Coley added, “You know who you are, if you’re cheating the system. You know that you don’t qualify. You know that you shouldn’t be receiving benefits from the state. Stop it. Stop it right now, because we’re going to catch you, and when we catch you, you’re going to get criminal prosecution.”
The bill would require the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to crosscheck residents receiving benefits through Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs with income tax, lottery, real estate, voting and other records to pinpoint potential changes in their eligibility.
Comparable cross-checks are currently completed annually; the legislation announced last week would require them quarterly.
Needy residents would not have to complete any additional paperwork or other requirements — all of the crosschecks would be conducted by the state agency, behind the scenes, the lawmakers said.
Coley cited cases of individuals owning million-dollar homes in Maine or dead people in Illinois who were receiving public assistance. In some cases, individuals living in one state were enrolled in public benefits in another.
“This is anti-fraud legislation,” Coley said. “There’s only a fixed number of dollars that can go around, and the key is to get those dollars to the people who truly need them.”