Millions to lose benefits under Trump’s proposal to change how poverty is defined, new study shows

Amanda Michelle Gomez

Amanda Michelle Gomez Health Reporter, Think Progress

A new study released Tuesday shows just how insidious the Trump administration’s proposal to change the way the federal government measures poverty actually is. In short: millions could lose health and food benefits.

By way of background, in May, Trump’s budget agency sought public comment on updating the inflation rate used by the Census Bureau to determine the poverty line and estimate who’s poor. This technical change matters a lot because the federal poverty line is used to determine who’s eligible for government benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, and other assistance programs.

The administration floated a lot of options to replace what’s known as the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is what the government currently uses to estimate the federal poverty line. But given the administration’s desire to slash benefits, as made clear over the years in proposed budgets and bills, it is likely to use a measurement that would redefine poverty in a way that cuts federal assistance to millions of low-income Americans.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) analyzed the effects of one optionthe administration is likely leaning towards: “chained CPI” (or C-CPI), which was also used in the GOP tax bill passed in 2017. Chained CPI usually grows slower than traditional CPI, which means a lot of low-income people would be at risk of losing aid if the administration moves forward with this option.

The CBPP estimated that by the 10th year of calculating the poverty line using chained CPI, millions of people — including pregnant women and children — would become ineligible for or receive less help from various government programs.

Here’s the progressive think tank’s breakdown:

  • More than 250,000 adults would lose health insurance through Medicaid.
  • More than 300,000 kids and some pregnant women would lose health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Millions of people would receive fewer subsidies for purchasing health insurance on the Obamacare marketplace, making it more expensive to do so.
  • More than 250,000 seniors and people with disabilities would lose or receive less access to the Medicare Part D subsidy program, forcing them to pay more for prescription drugs.
  • More than 150,000 seniors and people with disabilities would lose premium assistance for Medicare Part B, meaning they’d have to pay over $1,500 to see a doctor.
  • Nearly 200,000 people would lose food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • More than 100,000 students would become ineligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and more than 100,000 would lose free meals but remain eligible for reduced-price lunch.
  • About 40,000 infants and young children would lose access to care such as breastfeeding support and healthy food through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Due to some limitations, CBPP says it likely “modestly” overstated the impact of eligibility changes, but that “should not change the qualitative conclusions.” The bottom line is people will lose government assistance. It will be acute for those who do, with some losing multiple benefits.

In a press call on Tuesday, CBPP Vice President for Health Policy Aviva Aron-Dine noted this is one of the “most sweeping” federal actions affecting poor and modest Americans. The administration would also be undermining some of its own policy priorities, including addressing the rising cost of prescription drugs.

The ultimate irony, said Aron-Dine, is that by making the hardship worse, it makes it seem like fewer people are poor. But in reality, there’s strong evidence to suggest that the current poverty line underestimates what poor families need and that these families experience higher inflation than the general population as a whole, she said.

The public comment period for this rule will end on Friday, at which point the administration can move forward with its guidance. There are legal questions as the guidance is not moving forward through formal rule making.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work