House Oversight Committee Chair Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) today said findings from the state Auditor General show the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency made key errors that prolonged confusion and anxiety for many throughout Michigan as they tried to get needed assistance.
The Auditor General disclosed that a variety of actions and inaction by UIA senior leadership during COVID-19 contributed to a poor control environment, which in turn led to the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) application and certification process that was not federally compliant.
Johnson has held House Oversight Committee hearings on the issue and identified that the agency failed to notify nearly 700,000 people of the state error involving invalid PUA qualification. In its report, the Auditor General also determined UIA continued to make improper eligibility determinations and related overpayments for nine months after the U.S. Department of Labor first notified the state of the problem.
“When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down people’s livelihoods across the state, there was a massive surge in unemployment claims. People needed benefits to pay bills and support their families,” Johnson said. “They needed a fast-acting, efficient agency so they could do that. But rampant ineptitude and ineffectiveness at the agency led to weeks and months of hardship for a tremendous amount of people.
“These findings provide concrete proof that a pivotal arm of Gov. Whitmer’s administration failed when people needed it most. This was a state mistake with their criteria, not a mistake made by claimants. Worse yet, UIA continued down a path they were told was incorrect. I am hopeful the agency can improve going forward in these areas so people can have a jobless agency that performs for them.”
The audit disclosed that almost $4 billion in overpayments were made due to the noncompliant eligibility criteria. From March 15, 2020 through Sept. 27 of this year, UIA paid nearly $39 billion in total unemployment insurance claims from 5.4 million claims and just over 3.4 million claimants. The PUA claims are included in the total figures.
The audit report is the first of a series on UIA claims processing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson said the House Oversight Committee will continue to work with the agency and new director Julia Dale on effectiveness, while also reviewing additional reports from the Auditor General to provide needed accountability.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Johnson talks about Thursday’s meeting with officials from the Michigan Auditor General’s office and Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel on COVID deaths in nursing homes during the pandemic. Rep. Johnson says a recent Auditor General’s report and testimony Thursday makes him think that the state […]
House Oversight Committee Chairman Steve Johnson discusses the upcoming release of the Michigan Auditor General’s report into COVID-19 long-term care facility deaths in Michigan. The state’s Department of Health acknowledged in a letter that a previous total of COVID-19 long-term care facility deaths is 30 percent lower than what the Auditor General found.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Johnson talks about the committee’s meeting Thursday, when members will hear from officials from the Michigan Auditor General’s office about a state undercount of COVID-related nursing home deaths.
House Oversight committee Chair Rep. Steve Johnson talks about Thursday’s joint House and Senate Oversight hearing with the leadership from the state’s Unemployment Insurance Agency regarding a Deloitte investigation into payments made by the UIA involving fraud and intentional misrepresentation. The investigation determined $8.5 billion in taxpayer money was lost to fraud. Rep. Johnson says […]