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Audit finds MI health department effectively enforcing rules for who gets cash without employment training

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Michigan's health department has been effective at applying its rules to decide who gets government aid without having to enroll in a workforce training program, a recent audit has found.

The program, called Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope., is generally required for people who are eligible to work and receiving cash benefits from the government. The program's aim is to help people get and keep new jobs and become economically self-sufficient.

But there are some reasons people can get benefits without having to do the training program. They include pregnancy-related medical needs, caring for a spouse or newborn, and eligibility for Supplemental Security Income due to a disability.

The Auditor General’s report on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ handling of the deferral process was overall positive.

But it found the department didn’t always have the records to support its decision to grant a deferral for the training programs. In one category of deferral, three out of the 59 cases the audit reviewed lacked the proper documentation. In another deferral class, seven of the reviewed deferrals did not have proper documentation.

“Improper deferrals could increase the risk that MDHHS overstates its [work participation rate] and hinder individuals’ progress toward achieving self-sufficiency,” the audit stated.

The health department faced a similar finding relating to improper documentation in a past audit. It agreed with the auditor and requested monitoring. The department said the monitoring hadn’t yet been fully implemented for the most recent review.

A health department spokesperson said the agency would act on the audit's findings.

“The department is always looking to improve and will provide additional training to make sure staff properly document deferral requests,” Bob Wheaton said in an emailed statement.

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