DPW chief: PA saves billions fighting welfare fraud


By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

Pennsylvania has saved almost $2 billion staving off welfare fraud, waste and abuse under Gov. Tom Corbett, said Beverly Mackereth, the secretary of the state’s Department of Public Welfare.

Mackereth outlined the efforts to maintain the integrity of public assistance programs in a letter sent Wednesday to state Rep. William Adolph, a Delaware County Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

While some recipients “game” the system, Mackereth said, a majority plays by the rules.

“What we find is that most people are doing the right thing. They are not trying to commit waste, fraud and abuse. However, because those few take advantage of the system, we have to have some protections in place so that the truly vulnerable who are entitled to benefits get it, and those that aren’t, don’t get it.”

FIGHTING FRAUD: Pennsylvania has saved almost $2 billion fighting off welfare fraud, waste and abuse, DPW Secretary Beverly Mackereth said.

DPW categorized the savings in three buckets:

  • About $338 million came from continued work with investigators from the Office of Inspector General. Mackereth’s letter indicated that came from cost avoidance from investigating high-risk applications, recovering overpayments and savings from program disqualifications.
  • Another $476 million through DPW’s own integrity efforts, including reviewing improper use of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards, audit recoveries and cross-checking federal and state income and benefits.
  • Most savings, $1.1 billion, came from cost avoidance – or stopping fraud before it begins. That involved using recipient restrictions programs, reviewing managed care organizations and making sure Medicaid is the payer of last resort, Mackereth wrote.

“We will try to save dollars up front to save the money before it goes out the door instead of going back and paying and chasing the money later on,” said David Spishock, DPW’s budget director.

Mackereth said she penned the letter after receiving a slew of inquiries from the media, public and lawmakers about welfare fraud, waste and abuse. Adolph was happy to learn about the efforts to curb such problems, he said.

“Not everybody goes to jail that wastes money, but we have to correct it to make sure those that are most needy get the most money that they can,” he said.

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

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