House: E-benefits must be standardized

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill requiring states' electronic benefits transfer systems to conform to a national standard.

States rely on EBT systems to electronically deliver such things as food stamp benefits to welfare recipients. The bill (H.R. 2709) would require states to choose and conform to a national, uniform EBT operating system to ensure that various state EBT systems interoperate. It still must pass the U.S. Senate.

Currently, different states use different EBT systems that do not interoperate, leading to widespread fraud, including $32 million in food stamp abuse uncovered in Missouri. Missouri food stamp recipients were receiving benefits in more than one state, something that could have been prevented if the various state systems had interoperated, according to the House Agriculture Committee.

The bill would also allow recipients to redeem their benefits in any eligible store, regardless the state it's located in.

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