– While the federal government is allowing states to turn a blind eye to recovering overpayments through pandemic unemployment programs, Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) sent letters to Gov. Tom Wolf and Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier to instead seek justice and return the hundreds of millions of dollars fraudulently obtained through the programs.
“It is my hope you will take action to correct improper payments rather than take, apply for and utilize blanket waivers which would cheat Pennsylvanians out of their stolen hard-earned money. We owe it to our constituents to be responsible stewards of their money and investigate every fraudulent case, take corrective actions to ensure these improper payments stop and hold those defrauding Pennsylvanians responsible for their actions,” Grove wrote in the letters.
Unemployment fraud is a rampant problem here in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Since the start of the pandemic, unemployment compensation fraud has cost Pennsylvania over $570 million. Nationally, fraud is estimated to be at least $78 million since just the middle of 2021 and does not include the period of the greatest fraudulent activity in 2020.
As a result, unemployment fraud investigations now account for 92% of the U.S. Labor Department Office of Inspector General investigative case inventory, compared with 12% prior to the pandemic.
To assist investigators in Pennsylvania, Grove urged the governor and Berrier to support three bills to help return taxpayer dollars fraudulently obtained by scammers. House Bill 104
by Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) is modeled after the Federal Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 and requires agencies to periodically review all programs and activities, identify those which may be susceptible to significant improper payments, take steps to minimize those improper payments, and annually report information on their improper payments monitoring and minimization efforts.
House Bill 108
by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) proposes to create a Do Not Pay initiative to monitor improper payments across Commonwealth agencies and to verify the accuracy and integrity of payments issued by the agency. Finally, Grove’s House Bill 39 directs of the Office of the Budget to expand Recovery Audit Contracts to any program within the state government which expends over $50 million. Recovery Audits Contracts have been adopted by the federal government and state governments, including Pennsylvania, under the Medicaid program
To read Grove’s letter to Wolf, click here