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Public Statements

Letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Juneau, AK

I am very concerned by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Information Memorandum released on July 12th detailing HHS' intention to allow states to waive welfare work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (fANF). I firmly believe that by granting these waivers, HHS has overreached its authority and will in effect create a
dangerous policy precedent and deter Americans from becoming more self-sufficient.

In 1996 when the original social welfare programs were being crafted to replace the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (AFDC), governors of both parties were consulted. The resulting law has been the cornerstone of innovative and state specific welfare-to-work programs. Alaska's program is structured and managed to successfully assist TANF families to again become selfsufficient and meet the obligations of the program while ensuring higher work participation rates clearly mandated in federal regulation. I continue to believe these original objectives need to be preserved in the TANF program if we are to help our low income families build a better life for themselves and their children.

We and many other states have advocated for flexibility in the HHS managed welfare programs, most recendy the Medicaid program, but this Informational Memorandum regarding TANF goes beyond any original request for flexibility. The existing work requirement should remain intact and any TANF reauthorization proposal should incentivize personal accountability to move from
welfare to work.

I am hopeful that you will reassess your intention to waive the TANF work requirements and further engage with Congress and all Governors to find workable welfare solutions in the future.

Governor


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