Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updating TANF Restrictions

State EBT programs continue
to await DHHS' regulations
concerning where TANF benefits
may be accessed.
The EBT community continues to wait for the Department of Health and Human Services to issue its regulations governing the access and use of TANF benefit at certain proscribed locations-casinos, liquor stores and adult-entertainment establishments.

In the meantime, the eGovernment Payments Council's State Forum, under the direction of Vice Chair Cheryl Kagee, has conducted another survey of state EBT directors, the third over the last 12 months, on where states are regarding implementation of the HR 3630 regulations.

Only one state responding to the survey has implemented ATM restrictions since last March, the month following passage of the law requiring such restrictions. All states that have implemented ATM restrictions and which responded to the survey stated that they had implemented the restrictions to comply with recently adopted state laws.

It appears at this point that states that have not implemented cash restrictions are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see the final regulations from DHHS.

Another issue that arose in the survey involved non-TANF cash programs. Some 46 percent of states also use their EBT cards for the distribution of cash from other programs. Nearly 90 percent of those states say that they will apply the same access restrictions  to those program benefits as they will to TANF.

So, nearly a year into the TANF restriction issue, we're pretty much where we were when Congress first asked the General Accountability Office to look into the issue of misuse of TANF benefits. States are looking over their shoulder to Washington, waiting for the other shoe-TANF regulation-to drop. At the same time, they and their EBT processors continue to bat around the best way to implement the law.

Should be an interesting winter.