Mississippians who receive public assistance could soon be subjected to a stricter verification process. MPB's Alexis Ware reports, as of July 1st, a new welfare law is in effect.
The new law is called HOPE- short for Hope Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone. Supporters say it will help to prevent government assistance fraud and abuse by improving the identification process of applicants. The law requires the Department of Human Services to contract a third party vendor to examine the applications to ensure each recipients' identity and income meet state aid qualifications.
Beth Orlansky is the Advocacy Director at the Mississippi Center for Justice. She says the new law is unnecessary.
The state already looks at identification documents and pay stubs and residency requirements and citizenship papers. I mean it's not like we've just been giving away benefits to people who walk in and say I want these."
Republican Representative Randy Boyd is one of the bill's sponsors. He says the law isn't designed to take help away from those who need it.
"We just want the people who deserve the benefits to get as many of the benefits as possible. We're not trying to make sure that we cut the roll, but if we have people who are fraudulently on our Medicaid rolls we need to know who those people are and get them off."
Supporters of the law say it will help more Mississippians get off government assistance and find work.
Cassandra Welchlin is with the Mississippi Women's Economic Security Initiative. She says the idea that welfare recipients don't work is a myth.
"Mississippians who are on welfare work. The problem is they don't make enough to transition off of welfare they're in low-wage jobs and they are in these traditional jobs."
The portion of the law requiring the new application examination will go into effect once a vendor has been hired.