Pennsylvania agrees to $48.8 million settlement over claims by federal government

By Jim Boyle | Jan 21, 2015

WASHINGTON - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will pay $48.8 million to resolve the federal government’s claims that it provided benefits to ineligible aliens in violation of federal law, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The benefits at issue were allegedly provided under three programs: Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.

“The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that everyone, including the states, follows the law, but also recognizes the importance of these programs administered by the state that are essential for lower income individuals,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division said.  “This settlement demonstrates our commitment to protect taxpayer funds and ensure they are used for their intended purposes.”

Under the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Act, enacted in 1996, only documented aliens who meet certain low-income requirements and who have been in the country for more than five years may receive non-emergency Medicaid, TANF or SNAP benefits.

The law also requires states to verify recipients’ eligibility before providing these means-tested benefits.  The United States alleged that, between 2004 and 2010, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided Medicaid, TANF and SNAP benefits to ineligible aliens in violation of these restrictions.

“The staff of the civil division in our office has worked closely and diligently with our sister federal agencies, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and the Governor’s office to make needed corrections to the operation of programs that are vital to low income families,” U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said.

“At the same time, after lengthy negotiations, a fair and reasonable settlement has been achieved in the best interest of Pennsylvania tax payers.”

The settlement resolves the allegations without determining the state's liability.

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