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Public Benefits Privatization and Modernization

Recent Developments and Advocacy

By Mary R. Mannix, Cary LaCheen, Henry A. Freedman & Marc Cohan

More states are contracting with private vendors to administer benefit programs and “modernizing” program administration by closing welfare offices in favor of “call centers” and online access. These changes affect low-income people—changes that are potentially beneficial but too often harmful, especially for vulnerable population groups such as those with disabilities or limited English proficiency. Advocates in four states that have implemented privatization or modernization have had some successes in protecting clients from harmful effects and have gained experience relevant in other states that pursue similar policies.

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