Enhanced enrollment for government benefits has advocates concer - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Enhanced enrollment for government benefits has advocates concerned

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The process of getting government benefits like Medicaid or food stamps is about to get more detailed and some advocates say that's a bad thing.

"It's become popular to pick on people who can't fight back," said Mississippi Center for Justice Advocacy Director Beth Orlansky. "The people who use benefits in Mississippi, particularly snap Medicaid, primarily are either working or between jobs and want to work again."

Lawmakers passed a bill intended to improve transparency and fraud during this session. 

"It's basically going to make sure that the people on the systems are actually alive," said Rep. Joey Hood-R. "It's going to make sure that they actually live in the state of Mississippi. It's going to make it say who you are and it's going to verify the assets and income."

Advocates say it's not needed.

"Mississippi has won awards for rooting out fraud from users and we already had a pretty strict verification system," added Orlansky "It's not like we've done nothing."

As for working, a work requirement for able-bodied adult food stamp recipients has been in place since last year. That's a federal requirement, but Mississippi previously had a waiver due to the state's unemployment rate and job access. We still qualify for the waiver, but the Governor has rejected it.

"If the state wants to help move people from welfare to work, let's think of creative models which they can begin to implement," described Cassandra Welchlin, Making Mississippi Women Secure Campaign Coordinator. "But not just push people off or continue to put barriers in place that would push them off."

Advocates say several parts of the new act won't take effect for two years. So, they're just monitoring any potential impacts.

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