Missouri is taking unemployment program integrity seriously

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Recently, FGA legislative champion Senator Andrew Koenig testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on his unemployment program integrity bill.

Sen. Koenig testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee

Before members of the Committee, Sen. Koenig highlighted how his reform would help Missourians get back to work and make great strides in rooting out fraud in the unemployment program.

“I think by doing these things, it will definitely help root out fraud, get people off unemployment, and get people back to work,” said Sen. Koenig.

Helping Missourians get back to work

Ultimately, the goal of unemployment insurance (UI) program should be re-employment. But sometimes people need assistance finding their next job. Sen. Koenig told the committee how his legislation would help Missouri’s unemployment program refocus on re-employment by linking employers with job seekers currently receiving unemployment benefits.

Unemployment insurance was always meant to be a stopgap measure for those who have lost their job through no fault of their own. Connecting employers to those on UI is one way to do this. Sen. Koenig’s legislation will also stipulate that should a person refuse a job offer, their benefits will end. This will ensure that UI isn’t an alternative to work, but rather, a safety net with ample resources for those who need it and a stepping stone to an individual’s next opportunity.

Rooting out fraud

When unemployment claims skyrocketed during the pandemic, Missouri’s Division of Employment Security reported a corresponding uptick in fraud. Fraud is certainly still a problem in Missouri’s program, and program integrity measures preserve resources for the truly needy. 

Sen. Koenig explained to the Committee how his bill would be an aggressive step toward rooting out fraud in Missouri’s UI program by requiring weekly cross-checks of UI rolls with databases of incarcerated, deceased, and new hires. Missouri already has access to these databases, and the cost would be absorbed by the state. 

Nearly three-quarters of all Missouri voters—including 59 percent of likely Democrats—support cross-checking existing databases to ensure welfare program enrollees are truly eligible for benefits.

 

The Committee heard how the senator’s bill would also cross-reference IP addresses, mailing addresses, and bank accounts to make sure multiple claims are not being made by the same person from the same address. 

Re-employment should be the goal of every UI program, and Sen. Koenig’s testimony shows that Missouri is making strides to preserve unemployment benefits for the truly needy, protect taxpayer dollars, and get Missourians back to work.