Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A workgroup from within the eGPC Rules and Practices Caucus has been working on an update of the Quest Operating Rules for electronic benefits transfer systems.

The Quest rules are network rules that govern how closed-loop EBT systems function on open loop financial networks.

The purpose of the update is to bring the Rules into conformity with some of the changes that have taken place in EBT practice over the last several years.

A copy of the draft is posted on the EFTA website. You can access it by clicking here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Photo IDs for SNAP Shoppers?

SNAP beneficiaries will be carrying photo ID EBT cards if a bill introduced last week in the Senate ever sees the light of day.

The bill, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), would require the issuance of photo IDs to all participants in the SNAP program.

In a press release, Vitter stated that the bill’s goal is “to restore some accountability to the program so it’s not ruined for people who use it appropriately.”

According to a press release issued by Vitter’s office, a system outage last fall that led some beneficiaries to purchase huge quantities of merchandise in dollar amounts clearly beyond their SNAP spending limits was a motivating factor for the bill. Reports at the time included some people simply walking out of stores with full carts during the confusion.

“My bill will restore some accountability to the program so it's not ruined for people who use it appropriately,” stated Vitter in the release.

A requirement to provide photo ID would verify that a person is the legal beneficiary of the EBT card, according to the bill.

Anyone caught attempting to illegally use another recipient's EBT card would be banned from the program.

Vitter recently announced his candidacy for Louisiana governor in 2015.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rooting Out EBT Fraud Is More Complex Than It Seems

Like most things in DC these days, the case of misuse of EBT and government-sponsored EBT cards is becoming politicized. Those on the right want more prohibitions enshrined in law, tougher enforcement and penalties. Those on the left take the cost-benefit approach and say additional enforcement isn't justified by the relatively small amount of money that would be saved from diversion to misuse.

Kevin Miller of the Maine Morning Sentinel had a nice piece out on January 12 laying out the problems and issues in enforcing Congress' February 2012 law prohibiting the use of Tanf benefits in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues.

You can click here to read the Miller article. I urge you to read it.

Mr. Miller takes a deep dive into the issues facing state agencies who are trying to comply with the federal law, as well as the myriad of state laws that the federal law from Washington has spawned.

We're pleased that Mr. Miller's well-researched article relied in good measure on the work of the eGovernment Payments Council. Most notably, he bases the article on an interview with eGPC, our  White Paper Restricting Access to Tanf Funds at Specific Merchant Locations, and our followup Spring 2013 Survey of state agencies.