Waste in PA’s Public Welfare

    Audits of the Pennsylvania Welfare Department over the last several years have exposed massive levels of waste and potential fraud.

    Pennsylvania state senators held a hearing this week about waste and fraud in the state’s Public Welfare Department. The estimated tally? Hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars improperly spent over several years.

    Listen: [audio:091217kgmedicaid.mp3]

    Health reform could cost as much as $1 trillion. President Obama and other health reformers hope to pay for some of it by rooting out waste and fraud in publicly funded health programs.

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    Pennsylvania’s auditor general Jack Wagner says they are certain to find it. His team’s audits of just three programs in public welfare — Medicaid, heating subsidies, and job assistance — yielded massive waste.

    Wagner: How much? I’m convinced with all of those programs, by tightening up the management of them, the checks and balances within them, hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payer resources could be saved.

    Most recently Wagner found that 45 percent of expenditures for a program to help people find jobs had no receipts.

    State senator Ted Erickson held a hearing yesterday to review the audits and the department’s response.

    Erickson: They have trained all of their supervisory staff in terms of how to handle these things so that was the fall out from that audit.

    Estelle Richman, Pennsylvania’s secretary of public welfare, is leaving her post to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Erickson says that despite these troubles, Richman has been invaluable to Pennsylvania.

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