House Approves Bill to Verify Income of Heat Assistance Recipients
HARRISBURG – This week, the House approved legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon), which would require the state to verify the income of anyone receiving heat assistance and weatherization services to determine eligibility. The legislation also requires any fraud uncovered to be reported to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
House Bill 1991 would require the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to verify the eligibility of anyone applying for, or enrolled in, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), or receiving weatherization services.
“The LIHEAP program provides a lifeline to those who cannot afford to heat their homes,” said Gingrich, who co-chairs the House Welfare Reform Policy Development Team. “I co-sponsored this legislation because it will identify fraud in the system and ensure that weatherization and LIHEAP funding goes to those Pennsylvanians who truly need it.”
This legislation is part of a package of bills, coordinated by Gingrich, which is designed to identify and eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in Pennsylvania’s welfare system. Many of the bills focus on closing loopholes, cracking down on welfare cheats and restoring integrity to the welfare system.
One of the more significant reforms passed into law last year was Gingrich’s Income Eligibility Verification System legislation. The law requires DPW to check the Social Security number of an applicant for public assistance against 19 different electronic databases to determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive welfare benefits. The measure prevents fraud by determining in advance whether someone is eligible to receive public assistance.
Similarly, House Bill 1991, which is now on its way to the state Senate for consideration, will prevent fraud in the state’s heat and weatherization assistance programs by requiring two state agencies to verify the income of those applying for the programs.
State Representative Mauree Gingrich
101st District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Donna Pinkham