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Wisconsin public assistance system leaves door open for fraud

Wisconsin is a national leader in getting federal bonuses for streamlining its enrollment process for poverty programs. But front-line workers who process the applications say the push to boost enrollment has them scurrying to "approve, approve, approve" — even when they spot signs that applicants might not qualify.

Under the system, states get bonuses for signing people up quickly, while having to return to the federal government the majority of money they recover from fraud. One caseworker told the Journal Sentinel's Raquel Rutledge, "I feel like all I'm doing is covering up fraud." Another said she was ordered by her supervisor to process food benefits for a person already receiving assistance in another state and for another who was in jail. A co-worker, she said, was instructed to process the application of a dead man.

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