Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/08/1995 01:35 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL 108 "An Act relating to claims on permanent fund dividends for defaulted public assistance overpayment." MARVEEN COGGINS, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY, stated that HB 108 would give the Department of Health and Social Services the administrative authority to garnish permanent fund dividends of individuals who have received public assistance overpayments and are delinquent in repaying the debt. She added, frequently persons receiving overpayment agree to repay the debt, but fail to do so. If a person is still on public assistance, the person's benefit could be reduced as a means of collection, but if a person is off assistance, collection becomes difficult. There is currently over half a million dollars in outstanding debt due to the Department. Representative Brown questioned the percentage of overpayments made as a mistake by the Department rather than personal fraud. ELMER LINDSTROM, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO COMMISSIONER PERDUE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, explained that the breakdown between client generated errors as opposed to Department errors was not available. He added that the State is expected by the federal government to recoup the charges. Mr. Lindstrom stated that Alaska Families with 2 Dependant Children (AFDC) would be affected by the legislation. Representative Brown elaborated that the program would cover AFDC, food stamps and the Adult Public Assistance (APA) program. Mr. Lindstrom responded that the food stamp program is entirely federally funded; whereas, the State would share in the revenue recoupment of AFDC claims equal match of 50%/50%. Mr. Lindstrom understood that the legislation would not apply to the APA program. Representative Brown quoted a letter from Curtis Lomas, Welfare Reform Program, Department of Health and Social Services, indicating that the APA program would be affected. Mr. Lindstrom agreed Mr. Lomas was correct. Representative Brown asked which programs would be covered. Mr. Lindstrom referenced Section #1, "Claims on defaulted public assistance overpayment". Discussion followed on the defaulted overpayments. Representative Brown pointed out that the title did not define "overpayment" without specific reference. She voiced her concern that these people were the State's most vulnerable and that they should not be included in the proposed legislation. Mr. Lindstrom commented that although those persons receiving Adult Public Assistance were indicated in the previous legislation, it was not the intent of the Department that the fiscal note for HB 108 would apply to the APA program. He pointed out that the language in the bill was "permissive" and that the Department "may" exercise authority to collect the payments. He stressed that it was not the intention of the legislation. Representative Brown distributed Amendment #1. [Attachment condition of notification within thirty days to the individual who received overpayment. Co-Chair Hanley pointed out that in a hypothetical case of fraud, it would be difficult to detect the overpayment within a thirty day time span. Discussion followed among Committee members regarding notification of overpayment. Representative Brown offered to redraft the amendment and offer it at a later date. Representative Mulder MOVED to report HB 108 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. HB 108 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with two fiscal notes by the Department of Health and Social Services and a zero fiscal note by the 3 Department of Revenue dated 2/23/95.