FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2013
CONTACT: Jennifer Miller, (608)
STATE WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN NUTRITION PROGRAM RECEIVES $2.7 MILLION
TO IMPLEMENT ELECTRONIC BENEFITS TRANSFER SYSTEM
Online Process Will Enhance Fraud Detection,
Accountability and Efficiency
MADISON—The state Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,
Infants and Children (WIC) will receive $2.7 million from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service to transition to
an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system, replacing the paper food
vouchers currently used at grocery stores with a swipe card similar to a
credit or debit card, state health officials announced today.
“By bringing online EBT processing into the WIC program, we provide
additional tools to improve accountability and program monitoring,
reduce errors and make it easier to detect and prevent fraud,” said
Kitty Rhoades, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary. “In doing
so, we make sure that program resources reach those who truly need
nutrition assistance for healthy pregnancies and healthy child
A DHS study concluded that moving from the current paper benefits
voucher system to an EBT system will improve WIC processing for grocery
stores, pharmacies and WIC participants by improving customer service,
enhancing fraud and abuse detection, and reducing confusion about which
items are authorized for purchase. Grocery stores and pharmacies are
important partners in implementing EBT, Rhoades said, and DHS will work
closely with them during development and implementation.
The program provides prescribed nutritious foods and nutrition and
breastfeeding education to low- and moderate-income women and their
children up to age five at risk of developing nutrition-related health
problems. Under an EBT system, WIC participants will continue to receive
the same foods, nutrition education and support they receive currently.
In Wisconsin, 70 local WIC projects serve 113,000 participants in
71,000 households, and there are 1,200 WIC-authorized grocery stores and
pharmacies. On average, women participate in the program for 13 months.
Eligible children who participate in WIC are more likely to receive
regular preventive health care, show improved cognitive development,
have increased diagnosis and treatment of childhood illnesses, and
receive recommended immunizations.
Nationally, WIC prenatal care benefits reduce the rate of low
birthweight babies by 25 percent and very low birthweight babies by 44
percent, helping to lower associated medical costs. The average
first-year medical cost for a premature/low birthweight baby is $49,033,
compared to $4,552 for a baby born without complications.
For information on Wisconsin’s WIC Program:
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September 20, 2013