Ohio Bill Toughening Welfare Program Eligibility Criticized

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Social service advocates are criticizing an Ohio bill that would toughen eligibility for food stamps and Medicaid benefits.

Beefed up monitoring of changes in food stamp recipients’ income would be required along with photos on state food stamp cards, called EBT cards, under legislation proposed by Sen. Tim Schaffer, a Lancaster Republican.

Schaffer also advocates adding some work requirements for recipients of Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for poor children and families. The goal is to avoid fraud and make sure benefits are going to deserving people, said Schaffer, a long-time proponent of such requirements.

Officials representing county human services agencies, Ohio food banks and others testified Wednesday that the legislation would further strain Ohio’s safety net system during the pandemic, Gongwer News Service reported.

There is no evidence of rampant fraud in the state welfare system and the requirements would create additional costs and unnecessary bureaucracy, Joel Potts, Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association executive director, told the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee.

The timing of the bill is bad because of the increase in households struggling to put food on the table during the coronavirus pandemic, said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Association of Foodbanks executive directors.