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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nick Zerwas (R)

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House Republicans Unveil Package of Proposals to Combat Fraud in Public Programs

Monday, March 25, 2019

St. Paul, MN—House Republicans today unveiled a comprehensive proposal to crack down on fraud in Minnesota’s public programs, with an emphasis on the Child Care Assistance Program. The legislative package is in response to a report from the nonpartisan legislative auditor that found fraud within Minnesota’s Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) to be widespread and pervasive.

“We know there is widespread fraud in the CCAP program, and this bill addresses the core causes of that fraud,” said Rep. Mary Franson, R-Alexandria. “Democrats must demonstrate they are taking this seriously. They have been asleep at the wheel for far too long, and Minnesotans are tired of being ripped off and watching their tax dollars be flushed away by bureaucrats who cannot or do not want to do their job and protect our public programs from waste and fraud.”

The proposal has five key goals:

  1. Increased consequences for committing fraud: Increase penalties and consequences for committing fraud to send a strong message to fraudsters that the state will not tolerate this criminal behavior.
  2. Provider Controls: Provide better controls on the front end to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place. Simply put, it is too easy for those who want to do wrong to defraud Minnesota taxpayers.
  3. Investigations & Prosecutions: Give additional tools to investigators to aid in their investigations, and to prosecutors to ensure fraudsters are brought to justice.
  4. Eligibility Reforms: Eliminate eligibility for those found to have committed fraud, require enhanced eligibility checks from the Department of Human Services, and direct savings from eligibility checks to the Health Care Access Fund.
  5. Oversight: The legislative auditor recommended that the Office of Inspector General become an independent entity. The proposal includes that recommendation.

“We have seen report after report from our legislative auditor identifying hundreds of millions, if not close to a billion dollars, of fraud from Medical Assistance, CCAP, and other public programs,” said Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River. “Democrats should not be proposing billions in tax increases at a time when Minnesota has a major budget surplus, and hundreds of millions in fraud across our public programs."

To date, House Democrats have refused to hold hearings on the OLA report in the House, and have only recently brought in DHS to discuss fraud in general before the Early Childhood Committee.

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