Column: Health services fraud far more costly than government assistance abuse

Most government assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and disability assistance, experience abuse of 1.5 percent or less.

Fraud or misuse of government programs is an issue that ebbs and flows with the size of the budget deficit. Not surprisingly, it is an issue of the day and one worth reviewing research. I will discuss welfare programs, food stamps, disability and Medicaid in turn. I begin with some of my own work.

Following the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the research center in which I worked tracked caseload characteristics of families through the reforms. The big finding of several studies, including my own, was how many families quit the program because they were unwilling to meet the participation requirements.

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