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House speaker calls database check for fraud ‘eye opening’

CONCORD - The results from checking electronic databases for potential welfare fraud are eye opening, said House Speaker William O'Brien at a press conference Thursday.

O'Brien, who is sponsoring legislation requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to do similar searches, said the taxpayers of the state could save millions if fraud is rooted out of the system and others 'stopped at the door.'

Lexus-Nexis did a free search of records for state Medicaid and Food Stamp recipients and issued a report last month.

Standing with about 20 House and Senate lawmakers and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne, O'Brien said such a welfare-fraud program would bring integrity to the state's social-service programs.

However, advocates for the poor and disabled said such programs may actually cost more money than they save.

Sarah Mattson, policy director for New Hampshire Legal Services, said, 'We already have a system in place that works very, very well' and is 'fine-tuned to apply to specific programs we have here in New Hampshire.'

House Bill 1658 has already passed the House and is now before the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said O'Brien has identified a problem that needs to be resolved. He said the bill would go through the normal process of a public hearing and committee vote before coming to the Senate floor.

Under O'Brien's proposal, a person on the Temporary Assistance to Needy Family program and someone applying to the program would have their information cross-checked against federal databases such as Social Security, Internal Revenue Service, Citizen and Immigration Services and Veterans Administration, and state agencies such as the Department of Employment Security, Department of Corrections and housing and licensing information.


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