Cracking down on food stamp fraud
It should not require a formal agreement for the federal government to cooperate with states in reducing food stamp fraud, but apparently it does.
Federal officials announced this week that Ohio has become one of the first states in the nation to be part of a new program to curb crime in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, popularly known as food stamps. Under the arrangement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state will share data that will help the state monitor food stamp transactions and detect fraud.
About 1 percent of the $80 billion spent nationwide on the program is lost to fraud, federal officials estimate. That is down from 14 percent just a few years ago – and the lower estimate certainly is suspect.
More than 1.8 million Ohioans receive food stamp aid, dispensed through “swipe” cards. The program costs more than $2.4 billion a year in the Buckeye State alone.
Just a year ago, state Auditor Dave Yost warned of abuse in the food stamp program. Yost said one scam involves obtaining a food stamp card, using or selling it, then seeking another one by claiming the original was lost. As many as 17,000 Ohio food stamp clients received 10 or more “reissued” cards during the previous year, he said.
Clearly, curbing food stamp fraud is in taxpayers’ best interests. Ohio state officials should use this new data-sharing opportunity to stop at least some of it and file criminal charges against those responsible.