Sen. Mary McNally, a Billings Democrat, questioned the projected savings in the bill, saying that those removed from the program may be re-qualified later because of a mistake or changes in their financial situation.
“The idea that you have this churn and you’re losing people, they do come back,” McNally said.
A fiscal note for the bill, before it was amended, estimates once the verification program is established, it would save the state about $4.7 million a year through a projected 2.6% enrollment reduction for the assistance programs.
The note estimated if the bill becomes law, about 2,500 fewer children would be covered by CHIP, 503 fewer adults would be on standard Medicaid and 2,615 fewer on Medicaid expansion. The note did not provide estimates for SNAP and TANF enrollment. It did say an estimated 50 cases of suspected welfare fraud would be referred to the Department of Justice each year, which is how those occurrences are handled now.
The bill contains information for the department to reference when ensuring people meet the qualifications for coverage through the assistance programs. Beyond tax and wage data, the department would also review arrest and incarceration information, immigration status, housing assistance payments, emergency utility payments, child care services information, information from external vendors such as LexisNexis and Equifax, and more.