Small Technical Change Would Take Basic Benefits Away from Millions of Americans
A recent proposal by the Trump Administration would take away health care, food and other basic assistance from millions of Americans, according to the National Patient Advocate Foundation, which also urged other advocacy groups and concerned individuals to submit comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) protesting the proposal.
Under the proposal, the Administration would use a lower measure of inflation to adjust the federal poverty line each year. Over time, this change would disqualify millions from benefits; it would also reduce the amount lower- and middle-income Americans receive in tax subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.
“It is already too difficult to qualify for most assistance programs,” said Alan Balch, CEO of National Patient Advocate Foundation. “Changing the inflation measure won’t change the number of low-income people; it will only change the number of people who receive benefits.”
National Patient Advocate Foundation is the advocacy affiliate of the Patient Advocate Foundation, which provides free case management and financial assistance to people struggling with a diagnosed condition. Case managers work with families to qualify for rental assistance, SNAP benefits and health insurance, often placing these families on stable ground for the first time in years.
“The federal poverty level doesn’t bear enough relation to the actual cost of living. It doesn’t include measures like child care costs, or the difficulty people have with transportation,” said Balch. “As a safety net provider, we know how great the need for assistance is today, and this proposal would be a grievous step in the wrong direction.”
Already, in the United States today, approximately:
- 15 million households face food insecurity, meaning that they had difficulty affording food
- 3.6 million people miss health care appointments because they do not have access to affordable transportation
- Over 27 million people lack health insurance
- Over half a million people are homeless
“If the Administration makes it harder to qualify for safety net programs, more people—including children—will be living in poverty in the United States,” concluded Balch.
The National Patient Advocate Foundation encourages all concerned people and organizations to urge the Administration not to adopt any measure of inflation that would lower the federal poverty level or cause fewer people to qualify for safety net programs. Please submit comments to the OMB by June 21, 2019.