Resolution 2: Improper Use of Social Services Funds

Introduced by: George L. Bradley, DO – Delegate, Gaston County Medical Society

Referred to: Reference Committee No. 1 – Timothy M. Beittel, MD, Chair

WHEREAS, taxpayers entrust funds to be properly and equitably distributed to those in need based on parameters and guidelines dictated to North Carolina Department of Social Services by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, funds provided to those who demonstrate need are too frequently used improperly; and

WHEREAS, Food Stamp cards, EBT cards, Family Subsistence cards have the appearance of a credit card; and

WHEREAS, the “cards” are sometimes traded for cash (typically a $300 card traded for $150 cash), or cigarettes or non-nutritional non-economical foods or street drugs; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the North Carolina Medical Society supports the addition of a photographic image to North Carolina social service benefit cards to reduce the illegitimate use of taxpayer funds; and be it further (policy)

RESOLVED, That the North Carolina Medical Society supports Federal and State efforts to reduce fraud in the distribution of social service cards and benefits. (policy)

Fiscal Note: No additional funding above current resources estimated. Current resources will be allocated based on the priorities of the Society and the NCMS budget.

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  • freeman jackson

    This absolutely needs to be addressed. I find that the crux of this comes down to the intervention when fraud is found. Often short of removing children from homes, we cannot withhold help without punishing those who are already victims.

  • Sandra Brown mD

    Welfare fraud in general is an enormous problem. I saw a medicaid kid yesterday whose mom mentioned that she AND the child were taking a 7 day cruise to Belize. Selling EBT cards is common. However the ‘system’ often includes the legitimate EBT card holder going shopping with the other party so placing a photo ID on the card would not stop this behavior. The State is also going to resist anything that increases their administrative costs. I think we need to hear from the state what types of measures they are currently taking to combat various forms of abuse.

  • Jeff Wright

    I cannot agree with you more regarding the rampant fraud in our government programs. We have all seen plenty of Medicaid patients driving a new Lexus. However, I suggest that this issue is not medical and therefore not something our society should be addressing.

  • Joseph Inglefield

    Again, I would like to see some data. Can’t ED’s require patients to show photo id? We do in our office for all patients presenting any insurance card. I can’t imagine EDs can’t do this, I have to believe they already do this? If you can’t get data then it is unlikely to be much of and issue. Just like voter ID, the data shows only 0.4%, not a real problem.

  • Frank Smeeks, MS, MD, MBA

    This is a definite problem. Much like green card usage in our State’s Emergency Departments. Unfortunately, many physicians are sheltered from this reality. On any given day across our State, green cards are gone through like a deck of cards, sometimes in front of the registration clerk in the hospital to gain access for FREE care. The same reality exists in the social service arena. Is it a studied problem, no because you cannot get data on this problem. That is like asking if every ticket sold for a concert was used by the person it was sold to, the answer is obviously no. In the case of a concert though, the money was collected for the face value of the ticket so no one is hurt; in Social Services when the cards are bartered for items which do not benefit the recipient, someone is definitely hurt.

  • Robert Monteiro, MD

    The second resolved is consistent with our current policy and may already be spelled out somewhere. While I agree with the spirit of the first resolved, maybe language that encourages verification of the individual seeking service rather than adding cost to the production of pictures on NC social service benefit cards would achieve the same end.

  • David Hightshue

    If this is really a problem ie selling cards that were for food outright or buying cigarettes or other none healthy substances should be stopped . Using them in farmers markets is a good idea

  • Joseph Inglefield

    Good idea, but will require photography equipment, sounds like a voter ID situation. How many EBT cards are sold? Any data? Is this a real problems? Probably just need to have merchants who process these to be alert, how do you enforce that even with an id? What would be good is to let farmer’s markets process these cards for fresh food and vegetables. Apparently at this time since they are not “grocery stores” they can’t. Maybe focus on getting healthy food to more people than worrying about this questionable crime.