By Sen. Joe Hune
22nd Senate District
Welfare assistance is a benefit intended for Michigan residents who need help feeding their families and making ends meet, it is not meant for lottery winners. Unfortunately, there are people out there who sometimes take advantage of this assistance.
Throughout the past few years, bridge cards have been abused by a million-dollar jackpot winner who was still getting food stamps and more recently by a market owner was convicted for paying bridge card holders 50 cents for each dollar spent at his store.
This is in addition to three Flint-area business owners who were charged with fraud for buying bridge cards and using tens of thousands of dollars in food assistance to stock their restaurant and catering operations with supplies.
Operating within the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS), the Office of Inspector General investigates all reports of public assistance abuse or fraud by either aid recipients or store owners. In 2011, the Inspector General’s office found $16.7 million worth of fraud in Michigan’s public assistance programs, down from $18.6 million of fraud in 2010.
The best way to protect taxpayer dollars and ensure state aid is used as intended is to report suspected fraud and abuse. If you suspect someone is getting benefits that they are not entitled to, I encourage you to report it.
You can fill out a complaint form on the DHS website at: www.michigan.gov/dhs. Under “Online Services” on the upper right side of the site, and there you will find a link to “Report Welfare Fraud.” Complaints may also be made by calling the Welfare Fraud Hotline at: 1-800-222-8558.
Michigan’s economy is still recovering, and more than ever, we must ensure that our limited resources are used appropriately. We owe it to the families across the 22nd Senate District and the entire state of Michigan who count on this assistance and to all taxpayers paying the bills to eliminate fraud and abuse of this aid.
Sen. Joe Hune is chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He represents the 22nd state Senate District, which includes Livingston and Shiawassee counties, and the southern part of Ingham County. The Ingham County portion includes Bunkerhill, Leslie, Stockbridge and Vevay townships, and the cities of Leslie and Mason.