Common Good Iowa

Don't erode SNAP and Medicaid

Posted on April 3, 2023 at 8:27 PM by Mike Owen

SNAP and Medicaid not only boost low-income families with federal funds, but local and state economies as well. That's one reason it's hard to understand why some state legislators are going out of their way to use state dollars to hinder those critical services and actually take food and health care away from children.

Senate File 494 would increase hunger and limit health care for eligible Iowans to get SNAP and Medicaid. There is bipartisan resistance to the bill, opposition that is easy to understand.

That is because the bill fails a basic common-sense test
: If the goal is to make sure eligible families are served, and you want to be efficient and save money, why would you (1) make it more difficult for eligible families, and (2) add state expense?

Scheduled Tuesday for a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. in the House, the bill barely advanced through the House Appropriations Committee — 13-11, with one member who opposed the bill absent.

Iowa already has a process for identity and income verification of applicants for assistance in Iowa. New, redundant eligibility verification requirements entail more paperwork that is certain to snare people who are eligible for benefits but will struggle with the new demands.

Quick takes:

  • The state Department of Health and Human Services would need to hire 218 new full-time employees to process the extra paperwork. (Fiscal Note, Iowa Legislative Services Agency, March 24)

  • Zero state savings in the first two years — only added expenses. (Fiscal Note)

  • Only $200,000 in state savings the third year before reaching $8.2 million the fourth year. (Fiscal Note)

  • Any savings come at a great cost of lost federal dollars to the state for benefits, overwhelmingly in Medicaid, which will have a serious impact on iowans needing health care and Iowans who provide it.

  • Cutting SNAP benefits with this legislation only brings costs from a state budget standpoint; SNAP benefits are solely from federal funds.

SF 494 makes a poor use of state resources, ramping up administrative costs while denying Iowans food and health care they need. Meanwhile, lost federal dollars would go to other states while Iowans lose out.

See our fact sheet by CGI Policy Advocate Natalie Veldhouse.

View the public hearing online Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.

Categories: Food security, Health

Tagged As: CHIP, Hawki, Medicaid, SNAP

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