Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2004 01:38 PM Senate HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
        SB 376-SUBPOENA POWER: PUB ASS'TNCE & PERM FUND                                                                     
The committee took up SB 376.                                                                                                   
MR.  JIM  DALMAN,  Chief  of   Program  Integrity  and  Analysis,                                                               
Department of  Health and Social Services  (DHSS), explained that                                                               
when investigating  allegations of welfare fraud,  the department                                                               
could not  always obtain needed information  from various sources                                                               
even  though a  release of  information is  used. DHSS  hopes the                                                               
subpoena would  allow information  to be more  readily collected.                                                               
It  provides  a helpful  tool  to  speed  up the  procurement  of                                                               
information  from institutions  or individuals  to help  validate                                                               
the   circumstances  of   a  given   allegation  and   to  obtain                                                               
information.  This  power is granted to other  state agencies and                                                               
is used as an administrative tool.                                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON  asked the administration's  position on  amending SB
376 to include the Permanent Fund Dividend Division.                                                                            
MR. DALMAN responded  he didn't see this as a  problem, and would                                                               
probably help with their investigations.                                                                                        
CHAIR DYSON  said he  is pleased  the administration  is pursuing                                                               
fraud in all areas.                                                                                                             
MR.  ANTHONY LOMBARDO,  Director, Division  of Public  Assistance                                                               
(DPA), noted  there was no  objection to having the  PFD Division                                                               
use this as a tool to pursue fraud.                                                                                             
MR.  JAY  MARLEY,  Manager,  Fraud  Control  Unit,  said  he  was                                                               
available to answer questions, and  commented this was a valuable                                                               
tool to prosecute and investigate fraud.                                                                                        
CHAIR  DYSON  said  he would  enjoy  seeing  published  quarterly                                                               
results  of  fraud control,  as  he  was  interested in  who  the                                                               
perpetrators are,  how easy  it is to  get convictions,  what the                                                               
sentences  are,  and  how  often  there  is  success  in  getting                                                               
SENATOR GUESS  said it  is important  to look  at "why  the fraud                                                               
happens," noting  she has  constituents who  are confused  by the                                                               
paperwork.   She referred to the  fiscal note's positive/negative                                                               
aspect, and asked, "Are they both  savings, or is there an actual                                                               
MR.  MORLEY responded  two types  of figures  are addressed  when                                                               
someone has  gotten benefits  illegitimately.   The first  is the                                                               
actual recovery  of benefits, the  paying of benefits  one wasn't                                                               
entitled  to.    Second, disqualification  for  further  benefits                                                               
results in  program savings.   There are program savings,  due to                                                               
money coming back into the  agency, and there are program savings                                                               
resulting from not paying the benefit to those clients.                                                                         
SENATOR GUESS  suggested a  review of the  fiscal notes,  as they                                                               
don't  necessarily  mesh with  that  explanation;  it looks  like                                                               
there is a cost, and it should be a savings.                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON commented  he would  pay  attention to  this in  the                                                               
Senate Finance hearing.                                                                                                         
MR. DALMAN said  there is some cost associated  with the activity                                                               
and there  is an  offset in  savings coming  from recovery.   The                                                               
recoveries  are expected  to  be offset  by  expenditures on  the                                                               
other side of the program.   There is a commensurate reduction in                                                               
the benefit  levels of other  programs, based on  the anticipated                                                               
increases  in recovery.   There  is  the positive  recovery of  a                                                               
benefit,  a  small  increment,  and   also  a  reduction  in  the                                                               
authority in  the other programs,  an expenditure  the department                                                               
wouldn't, therefore, be making; he said he would confirm this.                                                                  
MS. SHARON  BARTON, Director,  Permanent Fund  Dividend Division,                                                               
said its fraud  unit is being re-built, and the  desire is to get                                                               
these essential  tools and authorities in  place because although                                                               
the division can go to court  for subpoena power, that process is                                                               
cumbersome.   She expressed  interest in  amending SB  376, using                                                               
the same  language as DPA.   She reported the  governor's liaison                                                               
office is pleased  for this opportunity, and DPA  sees no problem                                                               
with the PFD Division joining this.                                                                                             
SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS questioned whether  there would need to be a                                                               
title change.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  DYSON confirmed  this  was correct.    He said  conceptual                                                               
amendment [Amendment  1] adds  the PFD Division  to the  title on                                                               
line 1, and the content change would be in Section 2.                                                                           
SENATOR DAVIS moved to adopt Amendment 1.                                                                                       
CHAIR  DYSON  clarified  this  includes   a  new  Section  2,  as                                                               
indicated by a  document presented to the HES  committee from the                                                               
PFD Division,  dated 4/14/04, accordingly  numbered at  the upper                                                               
right side of the page as T-200, P.02, F-970.                                                                                   
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if there  was any  objection to  Amendment 1.                                                               
Seeing none, it was adopted.                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS recommended that that  SB 376 be referred to Senate                                                               
Judiciary  since  it  deals  with  subpoena  powers.    She  also                                                               
suggested that  the title  be fairly tight,  since PFD  was being                                                               
added to the title.                                                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON said he would mention this to the Senate President.                                                                 
SENATOR  DAVIS moved  to report  CSSB 376(HES)  out of  committee                                                               
with [individual recommendations] and attached fiscal notes.                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON  asked if  there  was  any  objection.   Seeing  and                                                               
hearing none, it was so ordered.                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects