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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 7, 2017 12:43 PM
From: Representative Ryan Warner
To: All House members
Subject: Electronic Benefits Transfer Card Management Program
 
Pennsylvania taxpayers deserve nothing but absolute certainty that their tax dollars are being used wisely by state agencies and the Commonwealth is being a watch dog over those dollars.

Right now, public assistance recipients use Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), also known as ACCESS cards, to gain access to an array of public assistance benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Special Allowances, and General Assistance. These cards are used at ATMs, to make cash purchases and receive cash back through point-of-sale terminals at participating retailers.

There has been an ongoing problem now with the management of EBT cards that has gone unaddressed. Two reports by two different Auditor Generals have pointed out the issue and yet since 2012, the process the department uses has not been revised. Without updating the system, the department could be potentially missing the opportunity to detect fraudulent use costing millions of taxpayer dollars.

According to the last Auditor's report, Auditors analyzed out-of-state activity in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and found activity each year exceeded $70 million, which is about 2 percent of the approximately $3.4 billion distributed through EBT cards each year. Over the three year period, Pennsylvania EBT cards:
  • Were used in all 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia.
  • 75 percent of out-of-state activity was in the six adjacent states.
  • Of card activity in non-adjacent states, the most - more than $14 million - was spent in Florida, followed by $6 million in North Carolina; $97,575 in Hawaii; and $45,262 in Alaska.
The time has come for a legislative fix. My legislation will require the department to do more. The department will be required to create an Electronic Benefits Transfer Card Management Program to develop electronic controls, oversight mechanisms, and follow-up procedures to detect and track fraudulent uses.

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation.



Introduced as HB1577