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Integrated Benefits Initiative: New Approach to More Human-Centered Safety Net

September 13, 2018 at 4:15 PM
BY
CBPP

Low-income families often must navigate a time-consuming, multi-step process to get and keep the benefits they need, which is why the Integrated Benefits Initiative is partnering with government agencies around the country as they work to modernize and improve eligibility systems and processes for the vulnerable individuals they serve. The initiative brings together technology, design, and policy experts to help these agencies pilot innovative, human-centered approaches to improving the benefit delivery system by maximizing access, improving efficiency, and promoting program integrity.

Currently, individuals must complete complex and sometimes lengthy benefit applications and renewals, may have to complete interviews, and often must send in documents to verify their eligibility. Moreover, when seeking or receiving benefits from more than one program such as Medicaid and SNAP (formerly food stamps), families may have to complete these processes more than once. While many of these processes are critical to ensuring that only eligible individuals participate in vital safety net programs, confusing and burdensome requirements can deter those who are eligible from getting the help they need.

The Integrated Benefits Initiative is conducting pilot projects with Michigan, Colorado, Alaska, Vermont, and Louisiana, consisting of small-scale experiments to test ways to improve key aspects of the eligibility determination process — including simplifying the application process, making it easier for individuals to submit verification documents, streamlining change reporting, and improving access for remote populations. (See graphic.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is pleased to partner with Code for America and Nava Public Benefit Corporation in this important effort. By prioritizing the client experience and partnering with state and county agencies, the project seeks to test and build support for innovative approaches to modernizing the benefit delivery system.