WASHINGTON - Thousands of people in Washington could lose access to low income programs under a new proposed change by the Trump Administration.
In May, Office of Management and Budget announced the agency would alter how inflation is used to calculate the definitive definition of poverty, which is used by the Census Bureau that measures the poor population in the U.S.
Thousands of people in Washington could lose access to low-income programs such as SNAP and Medicaid, due to the poverty level raising a slower rate in part because of the lowering of the inflation rate.
Nearly 1.8 million people in the State of Washington receive Medicaid, a health insurance assistance program offered to low-income households.
KOMO News reports roughly 65,000 children in Washington state rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is a cost-effective plan that provides healthcare to children in households that earn above the guidelines to qualify for Medicaid.
“This policy would, over time, cut or take away entirely food assistance, health and other forms of basic assistance from millions of people who struggle to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and see a doctor when they need to,” Sharon Parrott, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told The New York Times.
Nearly half a million households - 543,000 adults and 281,000 children are included in the food assistance program SNAP also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
More than 678,000 low-income individuals and an estimated 218,000 families receive assistance such as nutrition, energy assistance, housing, employment, and emergency food and shelter services in part due to the Washington State Community Services Block Grant which funds the services mentioned above.
According to KOMO News, the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services says nearly 44% of adults without dependents who are in the SNAP program are homeless, with 59% having a mental or physicalhealth condition.
DSHS added roughly 17% of those included in the SNAP program with dependents are homeless.
“I believe that anytime you force folks to choose between basic needs you create situations where housing becomes unstable,” said Babs Roberts, Director for the Community Services Division of DSHS' Economic Services Administration. “While the change in poverty level guidelines probably could be done fairly quickly from an operational perspective, the immediate impact on families that are not prepared to absorb that impact could be devastating."
When looking at current guidelines, a family of four must make no less than nearly $26,000 in order to be within the poverty line threshold. The United States governmentreadapts the line for inflation which is based on the consumer price index each year.
The Trump Administration is now proposing using the 'Chained CPI', which in theory means the poverty rate would be set much lower than where it is currently at now. The Chained CPI makes an assumption that when prices of goods increases, people will tend to not buy less expensive items and as a result, will decrease their overall expenses.
The proposed changes by the Administration is reportedly still in the preliminary stages. The administration's comment period is currently open and accepting reception from the 50 states. The federal government does not give precedence when it comes to which measure of inflation shall be applied.
“We anticipate that if they were to move forward, it would go through the normal rule making process, meaning it would need to be proposed, subject to a public comment period, then finalized, with an effective date sometime thereafter,” Penny Thomas, media relation’s manager for the Washington State Department of Commerce told KOMO News.