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Pennsylvania to pay U.S. $48.8 million over benefits to aliens

(Reuters) - Pennsylvania has agreed to pay $48.83 million to settle U.S. government claims it violated federal law by providing benefits to ineligible aliens under Medicaid and two other federal programs from 2004 to 2010.

In a statement on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice said the commonwealth provided improper benefits under Medicaid, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

The Justice Department said Pennsylvania violated a 1996 law that authorizes non-emergency benefits only for documented aliens who fall below specified income thresholds and have been in the country for more than five years, and that requires states to verify recipients' eligibility.

Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services did not admit liability in agreeing to settle.

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Pennsylvania will pay the $48.83 million to the federal government in 20 equal quarterly installments from now through Dec. 31, 2019.

The Justice Department said the settlement helps insure that taxpayer-funded benefits are used as intended.

A spokeswoman for Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services said the agency "remains committed to protecting taxpayer funds and ensuring our most vulnerable individuals receive the benefits for which they are eligible."

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler)

 
 
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