Published April 24 2011
Ask Your Government: Reader asks about North Dakota’s welfare services
A Jamestown reader sent me the following question:
I am writing to inquire about some rumors I have been hearing about our social services and entitlement programs in North Dakota.
We have had quite an influx of Somali families into our school system this year. A number of them have recently left to return to California, where they lived before coming here.
People have been saying that even though they no longer live in our state that they will still be on our welfare rolls, and we will be paying for them while they are living in another state. Could this possibly be true?
I contacted Heather Steffl at the state Department of Human Services. Here’s what she found out:
“The North Dakota Department of Human Services administers two entitlement programs: Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps). Both serve all qualifying low-income North Dakota residents who apply and qualify financially. Most participants are children.
“When program participants move out of state, the department and our partners in the county social service offices can and do close cases. Data matches and communication between states also help assure appropriate benefits.
“The Department of Human Services does a data match with other states, and duplicate coverage can be identified and cases closed. The department is in the process of automating this interstate data match.
“There are other ways of identifying and preventing duplicate benefits. For Medicaid, double coverage may come to light and be corrected when a person goes to the hospital or to see a doctor and the hospital or clinic business offices call to check coverage.
“North Dakota and other states routinely contact each other if a person applies for economic assistance and divulges that he or she recently lived out of state. Workers call other states to verify participation information.
“Regarding refugees, they must meet the same criteria as other people to qualify for regular Medicaid and SNAP. Refugees have fled their countries because of fear of persecution based on race, religion, their nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion and have been legally permitted to live in our country by the federal government.
“When they are first resettled in the country, refugees qualify for eight months of Refugee Medical Assistance if they do not qualify for regular Medicaid. Health needs are common due to the impact of war, time spent in refugee camps or other harsh situations in their home countries.
“This special, short-term medical coverage is 100 percent federally funded and ensures medical providers are paid for the care they give.”
Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Ask your government).
You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.
Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.
Teri Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.