Rep. John Boehner has said, “States have found way to cheat, once again, on signing people up for food stamps… And so I would hope that the House would act to stop this cheating and fraud from continuing.”
The “fraud” he is referring to is a provision in the bill which ties home-heating subsidies through the LiHEAP program to food-assistance. Before the FARM Bill passage in February, someone who qualified for home-heating assistance could automatically qualify for SNAP. The rationale being that if you need assistance to heat your home, you also need assistance to provide food for yourself. Piggy-backing these programs together saves time, money, and paper work for the states and those eligible for both programs.
Some members of Congress, however, claim that this is a “loop-hole,” and they put restrictions in place to try to stop it. The new FARM Bill requires that a recipient must receive at least $20 in monthly home heating aid before they can automatically qualify for food-stamps, a changed expected to save just 1% of the total money spent through the SNAP program.
In response to the new measure, eight states–Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut–have announced that all families who receive assistance from both programs will have their LiHEAP credit bumped up to at least $20 a month. These states are finding room in their budgets to cover the additional costs. This ensures that no families in those states will be dropped from the food-stamp program, but it also cuts into the 1% of SNAP costs that Congress was hoping to save. This has prompted some members of Congress to call for the federal government to intervene to protect these savings.
Many in the human services community are applauding state leaders for prioritizing programs that assist the most vulnerable families. They argue that these programs provide a hand-up by alleviating costs for necessities that many families could not otherwise afford.
“Massachusetts Becomes 8th State to Offset Food Stamp Cuts” by Shadee Ashtari and Arthur Delaney
“Boehner Seeks to Keep States from Avoiding Food-Stamp Cut” by Alan Bjerga and Derek Wallbank