LANSING — State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, reported Wednesday that some Bridge Card abuse is caused by poor federal rules and guidelines that the state of Michigan is required to follow.
Several weeks ago, Jones received information from Michigan Department of Human Services employees that Bridge Cards were being issued to people with $100,000 or even $200,000 in liquid assets. DHS confirmed this to Jones after he made an inquiry.
Bridge Card abuse was brought to light again this week after reports surfaced that Leroy Fick of Auburn still uses a Michigan Bridge Card, despite having won $2 million in the state lottery.
DHS says it is not allowed to count liquid assets for the food portion of Bridge Cards. To put an end to this practice, the department has asked for changes to federal rules. DHS hopes the new rules will be in effect by this fall.
Individuals needing state assistance are issued an “Electronic Benefit Transfer” debit card known as a Bridge Card to purchase food products and access cash benefits, instead of paper food stamps and paper checks.
Earlier this year it was reported that Michigan Bridge Card users spent millions of dollars out of state. In particular, cards were used in vacation hot spots such as Florida, California, Nevada and Hawaii in January and February.
“I’ve asked the United States Congress to look into this obscene waste of tax dollars and change the Bridge Card rules,” Jones said. “This lack of checking on liquid assets may partially explain the use of Michigan Bridge Cards in winter vacation hot spots. I am also concerned that the cards are being sold on the street for cash to buy alcohol and drugs. Children go hungry when parents feed their addictions and not their children.”