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Millions in Colorado phone subsidies doled out in error

David Migoya
The Denver Post

Nearly 10,000 low-income Coloradans have gotten taxpayer-funded discounts on their home-telephone service for the past four years, despite not qualifying for the subsidy.

They’ve been wrongly getting the break – at a cost as high as $7.9 million – from Qwest through the state’s Low-Income Telephone Assistance Program.

The monthly discount of up to $16.50 is supposed to cease when a recipient is off welfare. But that hasn’t happened because the state Department of Human Services, which certifies to telecoms that someone is eligible for the subsidy, hasn’t checked the names since at least 2005, according to state and federal records.



A problem-plagued computer system intended to streamline the state’s welfare-benefits process is to blame, DHS spokeswoman Liz McDonough said.

The revelation comes as a Miami-based company is trying to get state approval for a plan to provide free cellphones to the poor under the same LITAP program.



For more of this Denver Post story: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12903826


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