Green applauds DHS call for stronger welfare limits on lottery winners

Nearly one year after the “Lottery Match” legislative package was signed into law, the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) presented a report showing that more than 500 welfare cases involving high-value lottery winners have been closed as a result of the reforms.

“The reforms are working,” said Sen. Mike Green, R–Mayville.

Green sponsored a bill in the package requiring that lottery winnings be included in assets when determining eligibility for benefits from the Family Independence Program and the Food Assistance Program.

“But the report also highlighted that our work isn’t finished,” Green added.

According to the DHS report, loopholes exist in other welfare programs that allow major lottery winners to continue receiving benefits. Those programs include the Child Development and Care Program and certain Medicaid programs like Healthy Kids, Group 2 Pregnant Women, Transitional Medical Assistance Plus (TMA-Plus) and the Refugee Medical Assistance Program. The report called for more changes in state and federal law to close those loopholes.

“With the match system, we can now identify substantial winnings, but the loopholes that allow lottery winners to continue to collect various benefits need to be closed through amendment of state and federal law and policy,” said Maura Corrigan, DHS director.

Green commented that the report, which was called for in the legislative package, proves the reforms were effective and justifies more ambitious reforms this session.

“The ‘Lottery Match’ legislation was an excellent start to safeguarding benefits for those truly in need of temporary assistance,” Green said. “Despite the closure of 565 cases, more than 2,000 cases involving lottery winners remain open because of these loopholes.

“One of my top priorities this year will be to see these reforms strengthened to the extent possible in state law, so that limited resources are focused on families, children and the disabled who sincerely need a helping hand.”

Green said that legislation is currently being developed and should be introduced shortly.