Governor LePage Reaffirms Commitment to More Welfare Reform

September 10, 2013

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Sept. 10
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Noting the announcement last week that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped by 41 percent since 2011, Governor Paul R. LePage has reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to reducing welfare and prosecuting fraud within the system.

Under Governor LePage, caseloads in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program have fallen from about 15,000 cases in January 2011 to about 9,000 cases in June 2013—a decrease of 41 percent.

In addition, the number of prosecutions for welfare fraud and abuse is on the rise. In its progress report released in May, the Fraud Investigation and Recovery Unit reported that it was investigating 711 current and active complaints of fraud through January 2013. Including criminal and other investigations, the unit was pursuing a total of 1,092 cases as of January. Eight more investigators were hired in May.

“While we are pleased with the results of our efforts to reduce welfare and prosecute fraud, we know there is much more work to be done,” said Governor LePage. “We will continue to push for more welfare reforms in the next session. We must ensure our welfare system provides a safety net for Mainers who truly need it, but is not abused by those who would use it fraudulently.”

While only 10 cases of fraud were referred to the unit in 2010, the number tripled to 32 under the LePage administration in 2011 and jumped to 45 in 2012. Seventy-one percent of the referrals came from the new public reporting system, featuring a form on the DHHS website and a new fraud hotline, which was established in 2011 under the LePage administration.

“We have been aggressive in our efforts to root out fraud, waste and abuse,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “Through our efforts targeting consumer and provider fraud, we have recovered millions of tax dollars and we look forward to even better results going forward. Our goal is to make sure that every single dollar is spent appropriately.”

Successful welfare reforms under the LePage administration include:

•Imposing a five-year limit on certain welfare benefits, while allowing some exceptions for hardship for the elderly, disabled and other needy Mainers;
•Allowing drug tests for welfare recipients convicted of a drug related felony;
•Removing the right for legal non-citizens to receive welfare benefits on day one, ensuring Maine’s limited resources are spent on Mainers.