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Mo. department backing down on welfare contract

The Missouri Department of Social Services has altered its contract with Boston-based Public Consulting Group (PCG) to allow only disabled residents receiving Medicaid to be shifted from a state welfare program to a federal disability program.

Alan Freeman, Department of Social Services director, wrote in a letter to Rep. Jay Barnes and Rep. Sue Allen Tuesday, that only the state’s Medicaid population that has disabilities and serious medical conditions will be shifted to the federal program. Before, the contract would allow those without disabilities to also be shifted, even though they are clearly able to work.

The House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee raised concerns over the department’s contract with PCG in a House hearing Monday, objecting to the original program because it would move people from a welfare that requires active job-seeking or job training to a federal disability payment program that doesn’t.

The federal program has no work requirements, no time limits and is financed by the federal Medicare program. Missouri’s welfare program has a limit of five years.

Lawmakers believe moving people from the state to the federal program could save the state $28 million annually, but only if done in a way that benefits the truly needy.

“I think it will save Missouri money because it gets that subset (those who aren’t disabled) out of the contract,” said Barnes, R-Jefferson City.

For every Missourian shifted from the state’s welfare program to the federal disability payment program, DSS pays PCG $2,300.

“We have taken a positive step forward that will prevent waste, fraud and abuse that has too often plagued all the federal entitlement programs,” said House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka. “This is nationwide in scope.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted earlier:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Department of Social Services is backing down on a contract aimed at moving people from welfare programs onto federal disability payments.

A letter sent to House Republicans Tuesday says the department’s contract with Boston-based Public Consulting Group will only shift people with disabilities who are currently enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.

People who move off Medicaid to monthly disability payments could qualify for Medicare. The department projects the contract could save the state $28 million annually because Missouri pays part of the cost for Medicaid but the federal government picks up the tab for Medicare.

Republicans had raised concerns that moving people from welfare programs ignores work standards that require recipients to actively look for jobs. House Speaker Tim Jones praised the department’s decision.

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