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Welfare audit bill passes with no statistics given on fraud

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi could hire a private company to audit Medicaid, welfare and food stamp recipients and make sure they aren’t cheating the program under legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday after a debate in which supporters offered no statistics about welfare fraud.

The bill, which is on its way to Gov. Phil Bryant, had already passed the House on Tuesday.

House Bill 1090 would let the state hire a contractor to help check that recipients live in Mississippi and are who they claim to be. The contractor would also check recipients’ income levels. The measure also requires able-bodied recipients to be working, and it tracks where recipients use their money.

Republican proponents say the bill will bring the state one-time savings of about $4 million to $5 million. Sen. Brice Wiggins, a Republican from Pascagoula who presented the proposal Wednesday, said the state Department of Human Services gave him the estimate.