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State funding to help cities fight in-home service provider fraud

Los Angeles County was awarded nearly $9.5 million by the state to help detect and combat fraud within a program that helps fund assistance for people who are elderly, disabled or blind, the governor's office announced today.

The funds are part of $26.5 million awarded to counties across California to investigate fraud allegations within the In-Home Support Services and improve coordination and data-sharing between local and state agencies.

"Any fraud in our system is too much, and now more than ever, every dollar must count,'' Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said. "We estimate a significant return on our investment in this budget year alone and that is very good news not only for taxpayers but especially for the Californians that rely
on the resources provided by this important program.''

Orange County was awarded nearly $869,000.

State officials estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars are fraudulently spent through the IHSS program every year. In addition to the investigative funds released today, the state is now including background checks and fingerprinting for IHSS providers, enhanced anti-fraud training for county social workers, unannounced home visits and requiring providers to supply copies of identity documents.

The governor's office reported that state officials estimate that the anti-fraud measures could save $130 million during the current fiscal year alone.

"This funding will go a long way in assisting counties and the state to make sure that our scarce public dollars are available to people with legitimate needs,'' said John Wagner, director of the state Department of Social Services.