Section 2. (A) The department shall provide and administer throughout the commonwealth a comprehensive transitional assistance financial assistance program, including the following services: the provision and administration of the supplemental nutrition assistance program, with benefits designed for use by participants to purchase eligible foods, including seeds and plants, for home consumption and use; the provision of financial assistance to those in economic need and the determination of eligibility for the categorical public assistance provided under the Federal-State programs; financial assistance for care and rehabilitation of the aging; financial assistance for health services and medical care, except that such assistance shall not include medical assistance provided under chapter one hundred and eighteen E; and other forms of financial assistance to families and individuals as needed except with respect to housing needs as provided for under section 30 of chapter 23B.
In order that said services be adapted, organized and coordinated to meet the needs of certain population groups, each community service center shall provide financial assistance programs for:
(a) families, children and unmarried parents, which program shall, among other objectives, serve to assist, strengthen and encourage family life for the protection and care of children, assist and encourage the use by any family of all available resources to this end;
(b) the aging and other adults in need of financial, legal, health, employment or other services;
(c) other population groups who require special adaptation of the services provided because of special financial needs;
(B) The department shall:
(a) formulate the policies, procedures and rules necessary for the full and efficient implementation of programs authorized by the laws of the commonwealth and federal laws in the area of transitional assistance financial assistance;
(b) administer the services, funds and personnel necessary for such transitional assistance financial assistance programs throughout the commonwealth;
(c) establish high standards of transitional assistance financial assistance service and shall strive to elevate such standards;
(d) provide the range of transitional assistance financial assistance services on a fair, just and equitable basis to all people in need of such services;
(e) collaborate with other departments of the commonwealth which are in fields related to social welfare and with voluntary or private agencies or organizations to assure efficient and high-quality financial assistance, health, mental health, educational, correctional and employment services for persons who are unable for social or economic reasons to provide such services for themselves;
(f) study the economic problems and welfare services in the commonwealth, and make recommendations to the appropriate branches and agencies of government for broadening and improving the scope and quality of welfare services;
(g) formulate a standard budget of assistance, the adequacy of which shall be reviewed annually.
(h) make quarterly reports, based upon statistical sampling methods, to the house and senate committees on ways and means, on (1) the number of public assistance applications processed within thirty days and for aid under chapter one hundred and eighteen and within twenty-two days under chapter one hundred and seventeen, and (2) the number of such applications processed within forty-five days. Such reports shall contain information sufficient to indicate whether ninety-five per cent of the applications were processed within the time periods in clause (1) of this subsection and if not, what actions have been taken to reach that percentage.
(i) charge a fee up to the maximum amount permissible under federal law for any identification card it issues as a replacement for an identification card that has been lost, mutilated, stolen or destroyed, except if such loss or destruction occurs during the mailing of an original identification card to a recipient, if the card ceases to work through no fault of the recipient or if the department issues replacement cards on its own initiative to classes of recipients; provided that the fee shall not be less than $5; and provided further that all fees for replacement cards shall be deducted directly from the recipient's cash assistance benefits.
(j) send a notice to any benefit recipient who requests more than 3 replacement electronic benefit transfer cards in a calendar year and monitor future requests for replacement cards; provided that the notice shall state that the department has noted an unusual number of requests for replacement electronic benefits cards and will be monitoring all future requests for replacement cards.
(k) require the use of photo identification on the front of each newly issued and reissued electronic benefit transfer card for each cardholder who is over the age of 18; provided, however, that the department shall promulgate regulations to ensure that all authorized users and members of the household are able to use an electronic benefit transfer card pursuant to 7 U.S.C. section 2016(h)(9); provided further, that the department shall not require the use of photo identification for individuals who are 60 years of age or over, blind, disabled or victims of domestic violence; and provided, further, that in developing regulations for authorized users, the department shall consult with businesses or vendor associations whose members accept electronic benefit transfer cards as a form of payment including, but not limited to, the Massachusetts Food Association, the New England Convenience Store Association and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
(l) include the fraud hotline number and department website on all newly issued electronic benefit transfer cards.
(m) provide notice to households and recipients of cash assistance benefits under emergency aid to the elderly, disabled and children and transitional aid to families with dependent children whose benefits have not been accessed for 270 days or more that they must contact the department or their benefits will be expunged. The department shall expunge and recoup the balance of cash assistance benefits under emergency aid to elders, disabled and children and transitional aid to families with dependent children if no response to the notice is received by the department within 30 days and shall notify the recipient when the funds are expunged;
(n) provide notice to all households and recipients of cash assistance benefits under emergency aid to the elderly, disabled and children and transitional aid to families with dependent children with balances higher than $1,500 that such recipients shall contact the department for a case review within 30 days of receiving the notice in order to continue receiving benefits or the recipient's benefits shall be suspended. If the recipient has a balance in excess of $2,500, and fails to complete the case review, the department shall expunge and recoup any amount in excess of $2,500. The department shall provide notice to the recipient that the recipient's benefits have been suspended or expunged for failure to complete their case review;
(o) on a biannual basis, on or before January 1 and July 1, file a report detailing the following: (i) the number of households and recipients receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children who are non-exempt from the work requirement, as described in 106 CMR 203.400(A)(1)(a) to (c), inclusive; (ii) the number of households and recipients receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children who are exempt from the work requirement; (iii) the number of recipients who are required to meet the work requirement and are in need of additional education, training or other barrier-removal services; (iv) the number of exemptions and extensions granted to recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children; (v) the reasons for granting any exemptions and extensions; (vi) any reason why recipients are applying for additional benefits beyond their initial 24 month period; provided, that this shall include, but not be limited to, an analysis of recipients' economic independence goals, as required by section 15 of chapter 118; and (vii) information regarding caseloads, including how long recipients have been receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children and how much recipients have received. The report shall not contain a recipient's personal identifying information. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;
(p) on an annual basis, file a report detailing the number of cases referred to the department's program integrity division and the results of each investigation. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;
(q) annually, on or before December 1, file a report detailing the use of economic independence accounts, established pursuant to section 16 of chapter 118, opened by recipients of cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children; provided, that the report shall include, but not be limited to, the number of accounts opened and the average balances in the accounts and a detailed list of reasons for expenditures from the accounts. The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;
(r) annually, on or before March 1, file a report detailing the number of recipients receiving cash assistance under transitional aid to families with dependent children who are present in the United States under 1 of the eligible noncitizen statuses as described in 106 CMR 203.675 (A). The report shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate who shall forward the report to the house and senate chairs of the joint committee on children, families and persons with disabilities and the house and senate committees on ways and means;
(s) annually, on or before March 1, file a report detailing the number of recipients exempt from having a photo identification on any such recipient's electronic benefit transfer card and the reason for any exemption.
(C) (a) If the standards of the department of elder affairs in regard to home care services are in accordance with the standards of the department, the department may enter into an inter-agency agreement with the department of elder affairs for the provision of home care services for the elderly. The department may contract with a public or private agency for the provision of home care services for adult handicapped provided the services are in accordance with the standards of the department.
No rule or regulation of the department establishing such standard shall take effect unless, prior to notice under chapter thirty A, it has been submitted for review and comment to the secretary of elder affairs.
When purchasing home care services from the department of elder affairs, under the provisions of this paragraph, the commissioner may authorize payment from the department to the department of elder affairs for the reasonable cost of any services rendered in accordance with the terms of an inter-agency agreement authorized under the provisions of this section.
(b) The department may also contract with any other person or agency for the provision of home care services, provided that any such contract for the provision of such services for the elderly shall be subject to the approval of the department of elder affairs, and provided further that any contract for the provision of home health services by a certified home health agency shall not be subject to such prior approval.
(c) No rules and regulations of the department establishing standards for regulating the terms and conditions of contracts providing home care services and fee schedules or charges relative to such services shall become effective until they have been approved by the house and senate committees on ways and means of the general court.
(D) The department shall take all reasonable actions to minimize abuse and errors. Such activities shall include:--
(a) the collection and analysis of data regarding utilization patterns;
(b) the recording and tracking of use of this program by individual recipients, including, but not limited to, the utilization of a year to year cross check of recipients to determine if a person or persons has received similar benefits in the previous year or years;
(c) the utilization by the department of mechanisms, such as payment of all or part of a regular assistance grant directly to vendors, to prevent the misuse of this program, provided, however, that such mechanisms are authorized under federal or state law;
(d) the utilization of wage reporting and bank matching systems, provided, however, that the provision of assistance shall not be delayed by such utilization;
(e) subject to federal approval of any necessary waivers, use of the warrant management system established pursuant to section twenty-three A of chapter two hundred and seventy-six; and, in accordance with section 11 of chapter 14 and the rules and regulations of the fraudulent claims commission, the department shall forward the name of any applicant or beneficiary of public assistance who, according to said warrant management system, has an outstanding default or arrest warrant issued against him; and the department shall comply with existing state and federal law applicable to time standards for review and determination of eligibility, and all notice and hearing requirements afforded to applicants and beneficiaries under its public assistance programs; and
(f) the department shall not issue a check or grant any benefits of any kind to or on behalf of an applicant for or recipient of public assistance benefits against whom an outstanding default or arrest warrant has issued by any court of the commonwealth. Evidence of the outstanding default or arrest warrant appearing in said warrant management system shall be sufficient grounds for such action by the department.
If a hearing is requested to challenge the termination of benefits due to an outstanding default or arrest warrant, the law enforcement agency responsible for the warrant shall be notified of the time, place, date of hearing and the subject of the warrant. An affidavit from the law enforcement agency responsible for the warrant or from the colonel of the state police may be introduced as prima facie evidence of the existence of a warrant without the need for members of that law enforcement agency to attend any hearings held under this section.
(g) the recording and tracking of blank electronic benefit transfer cards to ensure the integrity of the cards and establish a clear chain of custody and best practices in the shipment and custody of those cards; and
(h) the suspension of benefits to any recipient who has failed to notify the department of a change of address and who the department has attempted to contact by certified mail, but whose mail communication has been returned to the department as undeliverable; provided, however, that the department, after receiving notice that the mail communication has been returned as undeliverable or returned with a Massachusetts forwarding address, shall use all reasonable means to determine the address of the recipient and, in the event that it cannot be determined, subject the recipient's case to further review as to continued eligibility.