Moolenaar wants to prevent lottery winners from receiving any public assistance

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LANSING – Michigan lottery officials would be required to share the names of winners with various government departments and immediately remove them from all public assistance programs under legislation being called for by Sen. John Moolenaar, R-Midland.

The proposal has been prompted by news reports regarding a Bay County man who is still using food stamps nearly a year after winning a jackpot on “Make Me Rich.”

“This is unacceptable and has to be corrected promptly,” said Moolenaar.  “Taxpayer dollars should be used to help the truly needy, and we must stop situations like this from falling through the cracks.”

The lottery winner admits to using a Bridge Card at area stores and claims state officials have given him the green light to do so.

Under the Moolenaar legislation, the Michigan Lottery would have to submit a winner’s Social Security number to the Department of Human Services and Medicaid officials within seven days.

“More than ever, we must make sure that every penny of the state budget is used wisely,” said Moolenaar, vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  “Every day we are confronted with tough decisions and a finite amount of resources. But this is an easy call.  It’s important that we review this case, learn from it, and prevent such incidents from happening in the future. “

Moolenaar said his office has contacted the Department of Human Services and discovered there is a federal eligibility loophole that needs to be closed.  If the lottery winner had accepted monthly payments instead of a lump sum, the winnings would have been considered as income.  The 36th District lawmaker will work with the department on seeking closure of this federal loophole.

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