Nadya Suleman (left) and Ann Curry
02/10/2009 AT 02:05 PM EST
Shortly after Nadya Suleman said on national TV that she's not on welfare, her publicist admitted to PEOPLE that the mother of octuplets gets $490 a month in food stamps and disability payments for three of her six older children.
When asked how that squared with Suleman, 33, telling Ann Curry on the Today show that she doesn't receive welfare, publicist Michael Furtney said, "She doesn't regard that as welfare, but as payments available to people with needs."
The revelation, brought to light by the Los Angeles Times, stoked concerns that Suleman, 33, will become a heavier drain on public assistance once her six new sons and two new daughters are sent home in a few weeks from Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center, where they were born Jan. 26. They are the U.S.'s oldest surviving octuplets. The newspaper also reported that Kaiser has asked California's health plan for the poor, which is Medi-Cal, to cover the enormous cost of delivering the babies.
Suleman also revealed on the show that she was implanted with six embryos (two of which split) by Dr. Michael M. Kamrava of the West Coast IVF Clinic in Beverly Hills. Fertility experts say it was unorthodox for Kamrava to have implanted more than two embryos.
Kamrava avoided reporters camped out at his office on Monday, telling them on his way out that his only comments were shared with a TV news show. It was unclear what show he was referring to, although in 2006, KTLA-TV taped footage of him and Suleman discussing the way Kamrava implants embryos in the wall of the uterus to ensure they don't fall out.
Despite his success with Suleman, his clinic's live-birth rate for women under 35 in 2006 was only 10 percent, as compared with the 39 percent average.
To learn more about the Whittier woman's controversial struggle to be a super-mom, pick up PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.