Senate passes overpayment bill

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

The state Senate passed a bill by Sen. Craig Pridemore, V-Vancouver, that would authorize the Department of Social and Health Services to forgive benefit overpayments to low-income clients when the mistake is caused by the department.

Senate Bill 6508, passed 31-to-18, was prompted by the case of Vancouver single mother Sarah Remington. Due to an agency error, Remington received nearly $3,000 in child care subsidies for her 2-year-old son, Jacob, for which she was ineligible. The subsidies helped pay for Jacob’s child care while Remington worked as a therapeutic case manager for Vancouver’s Columbia River Mental Health. After the agency discovered its mistake, it stopped giving Remington the subsidy and then sent her a bill demanding the money. Remington has said she had no idea she no longer qualified for the subsidy because she had undergone an eligibility review by the agency after securing employment at the nonprofit mental health clinic.

Remington struggled to provide child care for her son after her income was deemed to be slightly too high to qualify for the subsidy. She cleaned bathrooms at Wendy’s Teddy Bear Day Care in Vancouver to help pay for the cost of child care two days a week. Jacob stayed with family members for the other three days of the week. It was during that time that Remington received the bill from the agency for $3,000. Remington could not be reached Tuesday via phone or Facebook; her phone number is out of service.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.