Democrats blocked bills to stop fraud, waste

Rep. Sal Esquivel

Rep. Sal Esquivel

One of the most important roles of government is to help society’s most needy. But it’s also critical to ensure that the resources intended for those people aren’t squandered through waste, fraud and abuse.

An audit conducted in May by the Secretary of State’s Office identified nearly $3 million in erroneously paid benefits. In those instances, payments were made to lottery winners, PERS recipients who had cashed out, and prisoners.

In response, a series of bills were introduced in the Legislature to combat this problem.

Among these common sense proposals was one that would permit the Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority to suspend public assistance to those who fail to provide requested documentation regarding possible overpayment of assistance. Another would require DHS to establish a registry of persons receiving social services from counties and the state to enable agencies to coordinate those services. Still another would require public employees who administer public assistance to report suspected fraud.

Two other proposals would require electronic benefit transfer cards to display the photograph of all adults authorized to use it and require DHS to ensure that those cards can’t be used to purchase prepaid credit cards.

Unfortunately, none of those bills received hearings this session.

My House Republican colleagues attempted to pull those bills out of committee this week and bring them up for votes, but that effort was defeated by the Democrats on a party-line vote.

It’s a shame that the majority party allows this abuse to continue.

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