House votes to expand checks of income for those on TennCare, welfare

Hundreds of thousands of Tennessee adults who are receive TennCare coverage, food stamps and/or welfare will face enhanced income-verification process that regularly checks their incomes against other state and federal databases under a bill that cleared the state House Monday night, reports the Times-Free Press.

The GOP-majority House approved the measure (HB227), sponsored by Rep. Dan Howell, R-Georgetown, on a largely partisan 73-21 vote.

Howell said the bill is intended to detect fraud and ensure benefits are going to those who truly need it while saving taxpayers money.

One feature of the legislation would require the Tennessee Education Lottery to send monthly data on all lottery players who win $5,000 or more jackpots to the state Human Services Department.

The department determines eligibility for TennCare (Medicaid), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (welfare) programs.

Democrats spent their time largely questioning the lottery-related impacts on families in which a parent or caretaker plays and wins larger lottery awards that could cost them their benefits.

Howell argued that lottery winners on state and federally-subsidized social programs are already supposed to self report and his bill simply ensures it’s properly done.

Speaking later with a reporter, Howell appeared a little surprised that no one got into the overall aspects of his bill, called the “Program Integrity Act of 2017.”

“That [cross checking lottery winner database] is just a small part of it,” Howell said. “What we’ve done is create enhanced verification.”

2 Responses to House votes to expand checks of income for those on TennCare, welfare

  • Norma Shirk says:

    This bill isn’t about fraud. Poor people are no more prone to fraud than higher income people. It’s about beating up on the most vulnerable members of society. Poor people are poor because they are never allowed to break out of the cycle of poverty or they work jobs that don’t pay enough or they have a major illness that guts the family’s income. They’re also likely to vote which allows the dingbats in the legislature to push for stupid bills that ensure they stay poor, unhealthy and hungry. We’ve seen this book, musical and movie – Les Miserables.

    • STUART says:

      Most the time poor people are poor because at every crossroad in life from about the age of five they serially make bad decisions. Poor people are also poor for generations on end because behavioral genetics teaches us that things like studiousness, self-control, attentiveness, motivation, persistence are heritable traits that either work for or against having a successful life.

      Those of us who pay taxes, along with supporting own families, have the burden of supporting the poor. I sure hope that Norma and friends eventually find it in their hearts to forgive us if we do everything we can to (1) make sure that we aren’t the victim of fraud, and (2) urge the poor to GET A JOB!

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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