BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor Paul LePage is adamant that adding photo ID's on EBT cards will cut down on welfare fraud. The question on most cardholder's mind is: how is this going to cut down on welfare fraud?
Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, Mary Mayhew is in agreement with the Governor LePage. Mayhew said by adding a photo ID, it's a second layer of protection and this will derail people from stealing or fraudulently using EBT cards. Right now, family and friends of cardholders can legally use the cards as long as they have the cardholder's PIN number. That policy won't change, just the face of the card. They say the new look is to enhance the integrity of the EBT program. Mayhew explained there are 2-hundred thousand cards used in the state of Maine and over 4-hundred million dollars in benefits associated with EBT cards. She said by adding a photo on EBT cards it will cut down on welfare abuse.
"It's not enough. The name on the card is not enough. The photo just takes it one step farther in truly ensuring that we are creating the type of identification with the card that is going to reduce the misuse and the abuse. We know there are cases where EBT cards are being trafficked and are being sold for cash and for drugs. If having a photo on a card discourages that type of trafficking in EBT cards we will claim victory."
Mayhew said the pilot in Bangor is to work out all the complications because lawmakers hope to launch this program in early July. Making it mandatory for cardholder's to have a photo ID on their EBT card. Mayhew said this taxpayer funded program benefits outweighs the cost. The start up cost is 165-thousand dollars for the photo ID program, according to DHHS. She also said Massachusetts recently added the photos and New York has been doing it for years to cut down on fraud.