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Senate passes welfare fraud bill

CONCORD &#-; The Senate has passed its own version of a bill that aims to crack down on welfare fraud, and their version is more limited than a House-passed bill.

Under the amended version of House Bill 1658, passed by the Senate Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services would be able to contract with a vendor to do searches of electronic databases to verify the eligibly of welfare recipients. The vendor could only be paid as a percentage of the savings produced.

The House version, passed by a wide margin in March, requires HHS to do additional data checks on current welfare recipients and future applicants.

The bill is a priority for House Speaker William O&#';Brien, who pointed to a preliminary search of records of state Medicaid and Food Stamp recipients that found recipients with out-of-state addresses, some with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets, and 56 dead people.

But none of the limited number of names released to the department turned out to be ineligible for the services they receive.

The Senate Finance Committee concluded that because of the uncertainty about the extent of the problem, any fraud-detection program should be paid for from the money it saves.

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