Chafee releases redacted Block report

Gov. Lincoln Chafee on Wednesday released a redacted report on fraud and waste in the state's human services programs.

The anticipation had been building since Chafee told NBC 10 News on Friday he didn't intend to release the report, which was compiled by former gubernatorial candidate Ken Block's company.

But it was a letdown to anyone expected a bombshell. The reason? Few details. And that's exactly why fraud is hard to uncover.

What the report found just in food stamps was:

  • Benefits were being given to those who don't qualify.
  • Benefits were being delivered to out of state addresses, including Miami.
  • 60 prison inmates were receiving and spending food stamps.

Administration officials said the investigation was helpful.

"What Ken did was lead us to a pattern of billings. So, we asked him to look at some Medicaid billing patterns if there was anything suspicious there to provide us. He did lead us to an area which we are currently investigating," said Steve Costantino, secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Block himself was frustrated by how much data is unavailable. But he said he knows this is a start.

"An effort like the one we went through, where you come at it from a data perspective and provide leads and take a look at things that way, is a good way to go about doing it," Block said.

What was revealed is being acted upon.

"We are working very closely with the federal agencies. We've shortened the timeline with what we're doing with the Department of the Attorney General, and we're very positive about what the outcomes are going to be during this next year," said Bruce McIntyre, director of the Office of Program Oversight at the EOHHS.

The governor has prepared a package of four bills aimed at cutting out some of the fraud and waste identified in the report. One would prevent food stamps from being used to buy liquor.