Welfare Reform: Taking Control of Fraud and Abuse
Welfare reform was a large part of the 2012-2013 budget, which emphasized Maine will no longer be considered a welfare destination state. A new 5 year limit on welfare benefits, which aligns Maine with other states, and conforms to federal law has gone into effect. The limit does allow for certain exemptions for hardship cases - including those involving the elderly and disabled.
Drug testing has also been implemented for welfare recipients convicted of drug crimes and those who violate welfare rules now face stricter sanctions. A first offense will result in the loss of adult benefits and a second offense may lead to termination of full family benefits.
In addition, Dirigo Health will be phased out with an end date of January 1, 2014 and legal noncitizens are no longer eligible for MaineCare benefits as of July 1, 2011.
However, the Governor has made it clear that more work needs to be done. "We must continue make these types of changes to the system, not only to achieve significant savings, but to encourage Mainers to become self-sufficient. This is a down payment on welfare reform and, after implementing these changes and gauging the results, I look forward to doing more," stated the Governor.