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A new report shows that applying for government welfare programs like Medicaid and food stamps is becoming easier in South Carolina.
This improvement is thanks, in part, to a multi-year grant awarded to the state in 2011 that has helped streamline the enrollment process in these programs.
The grant money, totaling about $250,000 during the first year and $1.3 million more through 2015, helped the state launch Express Lane Eligibility. It allows the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Social Services to access data from each other to determine a child’s Medicaid eligibility, based on data collected for other government-funded programs, including the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
“We don’t want to ask you for information that we can get somewhere else, like a database,” said S.C. Medicaid Director Tony Keck, who contributed to a report released this month by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute, which administers the grant program.
Since 2011, Medicaid enrollment has increased by about 16 percent in South Carolina. Participation in the SNAP program is up, too, according to the Department of Social Services.
“We’re getting close to having one standard application for all the services — Medicaid, SNAP, TANF,” Keck said. “Some states also do child-care assistance. We haven’t really thrown that into the mix yet.”
North Carolina and Kentucky were the only other Southern states that also received grant money.
Olivia Golden, the principal investigator for the program at the Urban Institute, wrote in the June report that the federal government can take lessons from participating states.
“Federal agencies can make a big difference when they act together,” Golden wrote.
The grant is funded mainly by the Ford Foundation.
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.