Affordable Care Act works even if the website doesn’t

Amid all the reports of problems with the launch of healthcare.gov, the new federal health insurance Marketplace website – and there have been big problems – it is important to be reminded of the opportunity and security that the Affordable Care Act is providing.

A recently released report concludes: “In short, the Affordable Care Act is working even better than expected, producing more coverage for much less money.” (more…)

Lansing State Journal: Food stamp cuts coming to Michigan Friday

More than 1.7 million Michigan residents, including 70,000 veterans, will see cuts in their monthly food stamp benefits Friday as a provision of the 2009 federal stimulus package comes to an end.

Congress allocated additional money to the SNAP program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to provide a greater safety net to people affected by the nation’s recession that officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. In Michigan, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is administered through the Bridge Card. Oct. 31, 2013 — Lansing State Journal

Midland Daily News: Food stamp cuts mean $183M less for Michigan

When Friday arrives, more than 1.75 million Michigan residents who benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see less in their monthly appropriation.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expansion of SNAP will expire on Nov. 1. That means $183 million less for Michigan residents who rely on SNAP, formerly known as the food stamps program and known as the Food Assistance Program in Michigan. Oct. 30, 2013 — Midland Daily News

MLive: Can fancy ‘social impact bonds’ finance a cure for society’s ills?

Can fancy ‘social impact bonds’ finance a cure for society’s ills? A new method of financing government programs such as early childhood education and prison reforms is generating a near giddiness among states and philanthropists eager to participate. Oct. 29, 2013 — MLive

MLive: Food stamp benefits are dropping; use our database to see the impact in your county

Food stamp recipients will get fewer dollars in assistance starting on Friday as a temporary boost in benefits expires.

Funding for Michigan’s share of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, will drop by $183 million in the next year, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy. Oct. 29, 2013 — MLive

Michigan Radio: Michiganders who get government food assistance will feel funding cut this week

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who rely on government programs to put food on their table will be getting less money to buy groceries starting November First. Oct. 27, 2013 — Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio: Billionairs and the starving

Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who himself grew up in semi-poverty, noted over the weekend that the United States is seeing a rapid explosion of billionaires – and of children who are going to school hungry. Not surprisingly, the hungry children part of the equation is truer in Michigan than in most other states. Oct. 28, 2013 — Michigan Radio

U.S. Tax Reform

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch are asking all U.S. senators for input on tax reform issues.

It’s important that Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow hear from your organization on two key issues:

  • Tax reform must raise additional revenue to replace harmful cuts from sequestration, to make key investments that will bolster our economy and reduce still too-high unemployment, and to reduce our longer-term deficit.
  • Tax reform must protect low- and moderate-income families that struggle to afford the basics.

Please contact Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Levin and ask them to support these principles.

For more details, please see the letters sent Monday by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

Letter to Sen. Stabenow | Letter to Sen. Levin

Protect SNAP from harsh cuts

Protect SNAP from harsh cuts

Will you take a stand for low-income families, children, seniors, and veterans in our community?

Find your U.S. Representative here then email or call urging a NO vote on cutting off food assistance known as SNAP for poor and low-income Michigan families.

Congress needs to know that these harsh cuts are not the way to help those still struggling to recover from the economic recession.  If Congress passes the proposed cuts to SNAP, families right here in Michigan will no longer be able to provide adequate nutrition for their children. Many veterans and seniors in our communities will also be impacted.

Speak up to stand on the side of families, children, seniors and veterans in Michigan.  Your voice matters!

Here are some important facts for you if you live in the districts of Congressman Mike Rogers, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg or Dan Benishek.

Posted Sept. 5, 2013

Food Assistance at Risk

Full report in PDF

A proposal being considered by Congress could eliminate food assistance for almost 4 million Americans, including seniors, children, people with disabilities, and veterans. Yet more than 1.6 million people still live in poverty in Michigan and 424,000 cannot find work in this still struggling economy. Cutting food assistance funding would hurt families and jeopardize Michigan’s fragile economic recovery.

In September the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as Food Assistance in Michigan, by almost $40 billion over the next 10 years. This is in sharp contrast to the $4 billion in cuts over the same period contained in the bipartisan Senate Farm Bill that passed this past summer. The cuts in the House SNAP bill are found in very harmful provisions that will strike at millions of the most vulnerable Americans and would come on top of an estimated $5 billion in cuts to food assistance when Recovery Act expansions to the SNAP program expire Nov. 1 and 1.7 million Michiganians see their benefits cut by $183 million. Here is an overview of the major SNAP cuts in the House legislation (H.R. 3102):

Paying States for Ending Snap for Poor Families That Cannot Find Work:

Not quite a “work” requirement: This provision introduces a “work” requirement that would allow states to cut off an entire family’s SNAP benefits, including children, if the parent is not working or participating in job training. This is true regardless of the availability of jobs or job training slots and the family can be cut off for an unlimited time.

THE HOUSE BILL uses a carrot-and-stick approach by pushing states to kick families off of SNAP and punishing them if they don’t.

The carrot: States that implement this option would be rewarded by being able to keep up to half of the federal savings found in ending SNAP for these families. States could then use that money for any purpose – including tax cuts and special interest subsidies.

The stick: States that decline to cut families that can’t find work from SNAP would lose all federal matching funds for their SNAP employment and job training programs. This punishes the state and exhibits a total lack of commitment to helping the poorest families get jobs in our still-struggling economy.

Outcome: Despite this provision’s focus on “work” it does not provide any funding for work supports but instead encourages states to remove families from SNAP and rewards the states with money that they can spend however they like.

Cutting Off Unemploymed Childless Adults Even When Jobs Are Scarce:

A three-month time limit: Currently, childless adults without disabilities who receive SNAP are subject to a three-month time limit out of every three years unless the recipient is working or participating in job training at least 20 hours a week.

The waiver: States are allowed a temporary waiver from this time limit in areas with high unemployment. In the wake of the recession, 45 states are currently using this waiver, including Michigan. In fact, Michigan’s history of high unemployment has resulted in the state utilizing the waiver for almost a decade. Even now, approximately 1 in 11 Michiganians are unable to find work in an economy that is simply not producing enough jobs for all that want and need to work.

THE HOUSE BILL eliminates this waiver, regardless of the level of unemployment or lack of jobs.

Outcome: Nationally, 1.7 million people will lose SNAP benefits including 50,000 veterans, even if they want to work and are willing to take a job or participate in a training program, but nothing is available. In Michigan, 212,000 of the poorest adults in the state will lose food assistance in 2014 alone under this provision. The waiver would also become unavailable in the future should unemployment soar again.

Did you know?

These waivers are designed to kick in during periods of high unemployment. As the economy improves, they would automatically end anyway, without this legislation.

Eliminating a Cost-Sharing Option That Helps Poor Working Families With High Child Care and Housing Expenses:

The Categorical Eligibility Option allows states to extend benefits to certain low-income households with gross incomes or assets modestly above federal SNAP limits. States use this option to reduce paperwork, cut administrative costs, serve working families with high child care or shelter costs and allow poor households to retain modest assets. Over 40 states have taken this option, including Michigan.

THE HOUSE BILL eliminates the categorical eligibility option.

Outcome: 2.1 million people would lose SNAP in 2014, as would another 1.8 million over the next decade. In addition, 210,000 children would lose free school meals they were receiving because of categorical eligibility.

 Other Benefit and program Cuts Contained in the Bill Would:

  • Eliminate the “Heat and Eat” option that allows states to simplify the way they determine household eligibility when considering a family’s utility costs. 850,000 households are expected to lose an average of $90 a month in SNAP benefits.
  • Eliminate the current performance incentives system that encourages states to reduce payment errors and improve services to low-income families. Under this system the SNAP error rate for overpayment dropped to just 2.77% in 2012.
  • Permanently deny SNAP to certain ex-offenders for life if they were convicted of one of a specified list of violent crimes after the bill’s enactment, regardless of whether they had served their sentence and complied with all terms of release, probation, and parole.
  • Cut funding for nutrition education that promotes healthy eating choices among low-income households.

 

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