After receiving reports of misuse, the Michigan Department of Human Services decided to crackdown on Bridge Card Abuse.
This is wonderful news. The Lansing State Journal reports:
Beginning in April, thousands of university students in Michigan will become ineligible for a controversial Bridge Card program.
Currently, about 15,000 of the nearly 26,000 students statewide receiving the food assistance are eligible for the card mostly because they attend a college or university. But the state Department of Human Services said Tuesday it will begin to follow federal guidelines in April and not allow student status to be a key qualifying factor.
College students will be eligible for the electronic food stamp program only if there are other factors, such as the student caring for children while working a low-wage job, officials said.
This is a great step towards reforming Michigan’s inefficient Bridge Card program.
As I have stated in a recent post, Bridge Cards are an electronic version of food stamps that are issued by the Department of Human Services (DHS). A lot of students, who are not dependents of their parents, are eligible to receive government assistance because they have a so-called “low income”. Some students claim they need them in order to survive fiscally through school. Unfortunately, this is not true and many of these students are abusing the system. Not only do they use the Bridge Card to purchase an unnecessary amount of food, but some also use it to purchase alcohol and cigarettes with the money they are able to get back with it.
According to a 2008 report from the Office of Inspector General, Michigan lost $17.3 million during a three-year period (2006-2008) from users abusing the system. Also, the Department of Human Services’ estimate last fall of 10,000 to 18,000 college and university students who are receiving food assistance statewide was incorrect:
The total statewide number of 25,923 was much higher than the department’s estimate last fall of 10,000 to 18,000 statewide. The department offered the estimate in response to a request from the State Journal for a story examining whether abuse was rampant among college students.
We should all be embrace the Department of Human Services’ decision to crackdown on the abuse. Michigan has one of the worst economies and the second highest unemployment rate in the United States. Not only are these students hurting the people who actually need the assistance, the abuse is also contributing to Michigan’s $1.8 billion budget shortfall. Eliminating the fraud is an absolute must and appears to be a priority in Michigan.
Unfortunately, a lot of individuals will attack the abuse crackdown, because they feel entitled to this temporary safety net program. Earlier this morning, I posted the Lansing State Journal link on my Facebook page and I have already been attacked for wanting to “strip poor people of their benefits.” Nothing could be further from the truth, but this is a common mindset for those who feel they are entitled to every dollar promised to them by the government. Sadly, not everyone has the time to focus on the political world around us, but above all, we must realize these programs are funded by the taxpayers (i.e. other peoples’ money). I know this is a tough concept to comprehend in an entitlement world, but eliminating the fraud out of a government program is not stripping the poor of their benefits. There is nothing wrong with improving a system that is naturally inefficient. In my opinion, it is refreshing to see politicians (especially in a collapsing state, such as Michigan) ask for some responsibility within their monstrous government bureaucracies that they established.
In the end, those who actually need the assistance, will get it. And yes, it might involve filling out a few more pages of paperwork. Truth is, if an individual truly needs the program to feed their family, the time spent on paperwork should be worth the effort.
Look at the bright side, at least well-off college students won’t be able to easily take advantage of this welfare program anymore… Hopefully.