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Bill Sees More Checks For Welfare Fraud

Statewide Iowa — A senate committee will soon consider a plan to have Iowans on public assistance programs like Medicaid and food stamps submit documents every three months to prove they’re still eligible.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, is the bill’s sponsor.

Under the plan, a private company may be paid to process the information and cross check for identity theft or people claiming benefits in other states. Critics say Iowans who qualify for public assistance may unfairly lose their health care coverage or food stamps. Laura Hessburg of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence says welfare fraud isn’t a huge problem in Iowa.

Tyler Raygor of Americans for Prosperity says 10 other states have passed similar legislation.

The proposal is scheduled for debate in the Senate Labor Committee within the next few days. Senator Schultz, who is chairman of that committee, has tabled a separate plan to require Iowa food stamp recipients to show some sort of photo ID at the check-out counter.

Schultz says he was trying to address misuse of the cards by people who are not eligible for the benefits.

Schultz considered having the recipient’s photo on the “SNAP” benefit cards, which look like a credit card. According to the Iowa Child and Family Policy Center, food stamp benefits are issued to the head of household, but anyone in the home may use the card to buy food. Requiring a food stamp beneficiary to show a driver’s license or some form of photo ID in order to use their card at a store is not allowed under federal regulations.


Senate Panel Approves Tougher Penalties For Texting While Driving

Statewide Iowa — A senate committee has unanimously approved more than tripling the fine for people caught handling their smart phone while driving. Drivers gripping their cell to text or talk when they’re involved in serious accidents could have their driver’s licenses suspended for three months if the bill becomes law. Read more


U of I Hospitals Add Airplane To Emergency Fleet

Iowa City, Iowa — (RI) — The Emergency Department at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City is now using an airplane to transport patients who need specialized care for serious injuries or illnesses. Read more