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States Move toward Data Hubs for Ensuring Eligibility

Many states may soon mandate that agencies develop better methods for gathering data to verify the eligibility of their clients to receive benefits.

Laws proposed in at least seven states would require agencies to improve their methods for checking eligibility by establishing systems – data hubs you might call them – to verify identity and gather information on income and assets to improve integrity in Medicaid, TANF and other benefit programs.

State bills that would mandate computerized systems for checking eligibility:

Arizona AZ H 2559
Kansas KS S 372
Mississippi MS H 952
MS H 1115
MS H 1116
MS S 2224
MS S 2339
Missouri MO H 1795
MO S 607
Oklahoma OK H 2387
Virginia VA S 775
Wyoming WY S 73

For example, in Arizona, H 2559 would require the Department of Economic Security to "…establish a computerized income, asset and identity eligibility verification system in order to verify eligibility, eliminate the duplication of assistance and deter waste, fraud and abuse." The requirement covers all major benefits programs in the state.

A number of the bills, including Arizona's, call for agencies to contract with a third party to verify eligibility data for public assistance programs. For example, two bills in Missouri, H 1795 and S 607, would require the state's Department of Social Services to "contract with a third party to verify" eligibility data for public assistance programs.

Bills in at least three states – Arizona, Mississippi, and Virginia – specify that the data hub should establish eligibility by gathering data on not just the income, but the assets of applicants as well.

A number of bills also would mandate that agencies use electronic means to confirm the identity of beneficiaries, including bills in Arizona, Mississippi, and Wyoming.

It's impossible to say how many of the bills will become law, but with this much legislative activity the trend seems clear: agencies will soon be facing heightened expectations for effective use of electronic means to establish the benefit eligibility of their clients.

Clients of Equifax already know this will be good news for the integrity of benefits programs nationwide. For years, our clients have been improving program integrity by uncovering unreported income with The Work Number® – the nation's largest repository of employer-reported employment and income data.

If the trend has a downside, it may be the risk of reliance on potentially stale data sources. Several of the bills specify the use of such data sources on a quarterly basis. Typically, employers provide wage data to their state's unemployment insurance program managers, and the reports data are many months old by the time they become available. Records on The Work Number database are updated every payroll cycle so that you receive the most up-to-date information possible (as provided by the employer).

Want to learn more about improving your program integrity? Send us an email to govinfo@theworknumber.com with "Data and program integrity" in the subject line.

Newsletter: May 2016

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