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2016 Clearinghouse Rev. 1 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/clear50 and id is 1 raw text is: 

How to Protect Clients Receiving Public

Benefits When Modernized Systems Fail:

Apply Traditional Due Process in New Contexts


F ifty years ago Goldberg v. Kelly in-
       fused public benefits administra-
       tion with due process principles
of fundamental fairness by requiring
agencies to give notice and the oppor-
tunity for a pretermination hearing to
benefits recipients.' States today employ
sophisticated technology to transform
public benefits administration, but the
result too often is chaos and arbitrary ex-
clusions of eligible households when sys-
tems fail. These developments challenge
advocates to revisit the meaning of due
process and fundamental fairness and
to consider how due process can shape
their advocacy. Here we present a broad
overview of the due process issues and
highlight recent advocacy by Commu-
nity Legal Services of Philadelphia.

When Public Benefits
Modernization Fails
States have been modernizing adminis-
tration of public benefit programs-includ-
ing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)-for
over a decade. Modernization generally
refers to a range of strategies such as
automated eligibility determination and
case management systems; Web-based
systems for submitting applications,
reporting changes, and finding case status
and notices; call centers that may be used
in the application process for reporting

1 Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970).



States today employ sophisticated technology to transform public

benefits administration, but the result too often is chaos and
arbitrary exclusions of eligible households when systems fail.

changes, giving case status information,
and conducting eligibility interviews;
digitized document imaging; and business
process reengineering that revises case
management workflow and typically moves
away from a model in which a caseworker is
assigned to a case toward a model in which

workers perform designated functions.2
The consequences have too often been

2 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has
encouraged ambitious improvements by requiring states
to streamline processing of applications for Medicaid
and health coverage through the new health insurance
marketplaces. Enhanced federal funding (i.e., 90 percent)
is available for state Medicaid information technology (IT)
upgrades to accomplish the streamlining and data sharing
requirements. Federal waivers allow related state human
services programs to benefit from the Medicaid IT upgrades
and improve eligibility determination systems for these other
programs (see, e.g., Terri Shaw et al., Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities & Social Interest Solutions State Innovations
in Horizontal Integration: Leveraging Technology for Health
and Human Services (March 24, 2015)). For a review of state
online services, see Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Online Services for Key Low Income Benefit Programs (March




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