Social Services will find the money to continue a program that allows general assistance clients to become self-sufficient by paying for a single medical procedure to correct the condition that prevents a client from working.
General Assistance Self-Sufficiency Program funds would have been depleted by the end of May, but Norman G. Angus, director of the department, agreed to transfer the approximately $20,000 necessary to keep the program going until the new fiscal year begins in July.The program provides medical treatment if a single treatment will result in the client's becoming employable. It also offers participants access to self-sufficiency workers who can help them assess their situations and provide services.
The University of Utah recently completed a study of the GASSP medical assistance program, and the report was released at a meeting between advocates and the department Friday.
The study included 107 cases for 1987-88. Of those, 16 clients were just evaluated, while the remaining 91 received some medical procedure. The total cost was $83,406 ($779 average each). The study showed that 79 percent of those who received the medical assistance were off public assistance rolls by March 1989.
People stay on GASSP for an average of 10 months and the study reported that, had the people who received surgery and left the program stayed on for that length of time instead, the cost would have been $156,000.
The medical procedures for the 11 people who stayed on assistance was $6,072.
Bill Biggs, program specialist for the department, said that two-thirds of the people who had stopped receiving grants after their surgery were also not receiving food stamps. That indicates, he said, that the people not only found employment but jobs that pay fairly well, since many people in low-paying jobs still qualify for the stamps.
The study concluded that most cases would have retained their medical eligibility without the medical procedure and would still be receiving benefits.