Changes to SNAP program could make it harder for Ohioans to get food

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP, is facing a potential rule change at the federal level that could impact thousands of Ohioans.

The rule was proposed by the Trump administration, which wants to get rid of “broad-based categorical eligibility,” but local advocates said that would be bad for residents.

Lisa Hamlet-Fugitt, the executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said, “This is the law. This is not a loophole as it has been portrayed, and it is yet one more attempt by the Trump administration to circumvent the will of Congress.”

If the rule is adopted, an estimated 37,000 to 100,000 Ohioans could lose their SNAP benefits, according to Hamler-Fugitt, and some of those could be children.

Republican State Rep. Scott Wiggam has a bill that addresses SNAP benefits at the state level and he supports the idea of eliminating categorical eligibility.

“Categorical eligibility made it very easy just to simply give out food stamps without checking anything,” Wiggam said.

Hamler-Fugitt said Wiggam is just flat wrong — in order to qualify under categorical eligibility, a person’s income cannot exceed the federal poverty level.

“Ohio has participated for more than 10 years now, in fact, they’ve touted that it’s allowed them to streamline their program and make it less error-prone,” Hamler-Fugitt said.

She also gave a real-life example of what eliminating categorical eligibility could look like.

“Just think about it: telling a senior that, ‘No, you can’t have that burial insurance policy because it’s valued at $4,000, you have to liquidate that in order to be able to feed yourself.’ Ridiculous.”

Wiggam disagreed.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” he said. “I have looked over all the classifications of when they do asset tests, and I think that they’re trying to fuzzy the waters to make it look like this is not doable.”

Public comment on the rule change closes in late September.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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