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Department Of Human Services Under Fire For Failing Those In Need

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The state’s Department of Human Services has come under fire from the Illinois auditor general, who found the department isn’t doing enough to ensure the eligibility of those on Medicaid, welfare and children’s health insurance programs.

Human Services was one of several agencies highlighted in a statewide compliance audit of departments receiving federal money. It found Human Services did not test 5 percent of those on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, 4 percent receiving children’s health insurance benefits, and 10 percent of those on Medicaid.

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“The department has been short-staffed,” explained agency spokeswoman Januari Smith-Trader. “Although, we have done our very,very best to ensure the redetermination process is done in a timely fashion.”

The auditor first found the problem in a 2003 compliance audit. Smith-Trader could not say whether anyone not eligible to receive federal funds did so due to the department’s delinquency.

The auditor general also found those applying for federal benefits did not undergo examinations thorough enough to determine if they’d been convicted of drug felonies. There’s currently no cross-referencing system with any law enforcement agencies to ensure applicants are telling the truth when they check “yes” or “no” on a paper application asking about drug convictions.

“We are currently having those very discussions with the Illinois State Police,” says Smith-Trader. “We do hope to implement a cross-match with them, but right now we’re just in the discussion and conversation phases of that.”

Smith-Trader doesn’t know when such a system could be up and running. The auditor first reported the problem in his 2006 compliance audit.

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