Health and Human Services Commissioner
Maine DHHS ultimately plans to require photo IDs on the EBT cards of all food stamp and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families beneficiaries except those who are disabled, age 60 and older, 18 and younger, or a victim of domestic violence "with verification," according to DHHS.
In correspondence with federal officials prior to the pilot project launch, Maine DHHS neglected to address some key points. For example, the department didn't outline how a domestic violence victim can verify her status as such. To the point of requiring an EBT card photo, the department didn't outline the consequences for those food stamp and TANF recipients who don't comply.
The federal law that governs the
Another lapse in logic behind the requirement lies in the very nature of EBT cards. Under federal law, anyone in the household -- not just the head of household whose photo is on the card -- is allowed to use the card, as well as anyone else designated by the head of household. Federal law also prohibits retailers from treating EBT cards any differently from the debit and credit cards used by other customers. So a retailer can't ask to inspect an EBT card unless it's the business' policy to also inspect credit and debit cards.
Basically, the photo on the EBT card might or might not match up with the person actually purchasing groceries. But the presence of a photo ID on a card will invite retailers to scrutinize the photo ID and make sure it matches up. In many cases, it won't, which could raise suspicion among retailers who aren't fully informed about the photo requirement and the conditions surrounding it.
In 2004, Republican Gov.
For LePage, who supposedly wants to safeguard taxpayer resources, the fact that photos on EBT cards have proven wasteful apparently doesn't matter. But if his administration moves forward with the photo requirement, there's little doubt about what future cost-benefit analyses will find about a foolhardy attempt to control a fraud problem that barely exists and that's far from what should be the top concern of state officials.
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