Shortly after Labor Day, a House-Senate conference committee will meet to debate the two competing versions of the farm bill. The main issue that could derail this important bill is a proposed work requirement for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients contained in the House measure. Data show that 85 percent of food-insecure households with children are headed by working parents, that SNAP pays a meager $1.86 per meal and the law already allows work requirements for some able-bodied adult SNAP recipients adults under 60. The Atlantic’s Olivia Paschal breaks down what’s next, and who will be most affected if these punitive work requirements make it to the president’s desk.
As my colleague Vann R. Newkirk II reported in May, rural America would bear the brunt of increased work requirements for snap. Many of the counties with the highest snap participation rates are rural, and these areas are more likely to be food deserts and lack job opportunities. SNAP recipients in rural areas are more likely to be disabled, and they’re also less likely to have consistent internet access, something that can be crucial for both finding jobs and, potentially, reporting work hours (in Arkansas, which recently implemented strict work requirements for Medicaid, thousands of people could lose health insurance because work hours must be logged online). It’s also not certain that states could implement job-training programs as quickly as the House bill requires them to, potentially leaving some otherwise qualified recipients in limbo if they can’t find a job or a job-training program.
Click here to send a letter to your members of Congress asking them to protect and strengthen SNAP in the ongoing farm bill negotiations.
Medicaid expansion is working
An LSU study released this week showed that the state’s medically uninsured rate has been cut nearly in half since 2015 – from 22.7 percent of adults in 2015 to 11.4 percent last year. The reason for this is hardly a mystery: Louisiana’s decision to extend Medicaid coverage to low-income adults below 138 percent of the poverty line. More than 470,000 citizens now have access to care, which the Nola.com/Times Picayune editorial board celebrates:
Cutting the rate of uninsured residents in half in Louisiana is an important accomplishment. Those people now have access to preventive care and to treatments that can keep them healthier and extend their lives. Medicaid patients in Louisiana have access to a primary care physician to manage their care. That allows them to get routine checkups and have prescription coverage. With regular care, doctors can catch serious illnesses earlier and help patients control chronic conditions. … Gov. Edwards deserves great credit for putting the Medicaid expansion in place. Almost half a million Louisiana residents needed that help. And if our neighbors are healthier, the state as a whole is healthier.
Study panel working to raise foster eligibility age
One of the bright spots in the 2018 legislative sessions was a bill by Sen. Ryan Gatti that lets foster children remain under state supervision until age 21 as long as they’re in high school or equivalent degree program. This means that more than a quarter of those who “age out” will be ineligible for the new support. But as the Advocate’s Ben Myers reports, actions are being taken to expand eligibility, thanks to a study panel being led by state Sen. Regina Barrow.
But the study panel is examining, among other things, the feasibility of expanding eligibility to match the requirements of Title IV-E funding, the federal program that triples local and state investments in expanding foster care eligibility to age 21. The federal program covers a broader group than the new Louisiana law, including those in post-secondary or vocational school, job training programs, those who already have jobs and others who medically are medically impaired. The panel’s recommendations are due Feb. 1. Louisiana expects to qualify for the federal match dollars, which will cover the extended payments to foster parents who continue supporting youth older than 18.
IRS reaffirms SALT deduction cap
New rules released by the IRS on Thursday will thwart efforts from states with high state and local taxes (SALT) from keeping a popular federal tax deduction. The Republican tax overhaul that was passed last year disproportionately benefited high-income earners, but punished some extremely high earners in high-tax states with a $10,000 cap on SALT deductions. Many saw this as a politically motivated move because it targeted high-income earners in Democratic-leaning states. Republicans counter that the best recourse is to reduce taxes. However, it’s not that simple. The AP’s Geoff Mulvihill reports:
The SALT deduction is popular and widely used in high-tax states, including California, New Jersey and New York. In those places, many residents have state and local tax burdens of more than $10,000. In some cases, much more. A cap on the deduction means they will not see the same tax break as people with similar incomes in other states. Some will see tax increases because of the cap. … The high-tax states generally offer more public services. And some of them are in perpetual budget squeezes — for instance, needing to catch up on payments to their pension systems for government workers. They also contend that having the federal government tax earnings that are paid to state or local governments constitutes double taxation, and say they are challenging the new deduction limits as a matter of fairness.
Number of the Day
192,000 – Number of Louisianans who would be affected by the punitive work requirements included in the House version of the farm bill. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)