- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More than 7,200 people who won at least $1,000 in the Michigan Lottery last year were living in households that received public assistance, according to a state report.

The Michigan Department of Human Services released the report Thursday that shows the state only closed about 11 percent of those cases, MLive.com (http://bit.ly/1D62pdj ) reported. The state’s “lottery match report” analyzes the impact of a 2012 law allowing the agency to cross-check lottery winnings with public assistance and end benefits in certain cases.

Residents in households receiving food stamps, Medicaid or some other form of assistance won nearly $44 million in 2013. That’s roughly $6,000 per case. Eighteen cases involved jackpots of $100,000 or more.

State and federal laws allowed the department to close 810 of the 7,216 cases, including one lotto player who won over $4 million.

“These winnings add up,” said Maura Corrigan, director of DHS. “While federal regulations prevent us from being able to discontinue certain types of benefits, we were able to close food assistance and Medicaid benefits for 810 recipients, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million.”

There are at least four bills waiting to pass through the Legislature that would stop lotto winners from being able to continue collecting public assistance, according to the report. Federal policy changes would also make it easier for the state to close those types of cases, Corrigan said.

“It does not sit well with taxpayers when someone who has won millions of dollars continues to collect assistance because of federal loopholes that do not count these winnings as assets,” she said.

A series of similar cases, including a Bay City man who won $2 million in a lotto game and continued to receive food assistance, inspired the state to pass the law that restricts benefits for lottery winners.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, http://www.mlive.com

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