The state House wants to have a private company check the eligibility of people using the state’s welfare programs.
Supporters say the bill will save money, and Representative Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles) says it will also allow people who work with welfare programs to spend less time checking eligibility.
“Is their primary function to [check eligibility] or to actually help the people with their mental health issues, their childcare, their other health issues. Which is more important? To do verification or to deliver actual services?” asked Conway.
The bill has bipartisan support, though some Democrats note it would result in fewer federal welfare dollars coming to Missouri as ineligible people are removed from welfare rolls. Representatives Justin Alferman (R-Hermann) and the bill sponsor, Marsha Haefner (R-St. Louis) don’t think that’s a bad thing.
“They’re not eligible for the program to begin with so it’s fraudulent money coming in,” said Alferman.
Haefner agreed, “It’s kind of a win, not a negative.”
Some supporters suggested the bill, which estimates say would save the state $20-million over the next three years, would free up money for other things like transportation. Democrats, however, oppose using general revenue for transportation and say much of the money the bill would free up comes from the federal government, and could not be repurposed.
The Senate has a similar bill.