National WIC Association

Weekly WIC Policy Update

October 7, 2019

USDA Unveils Third Effort to Restrict SNAP Access

Last Thursday, USDA published the third proposed rule this year that would limit access to SNAP benefits – this time, reducing benefits by a total of $4.5 billion over five years. The proposed rule will remove discretion from state agencies to set utility allowances – which deducts certain expenses from the gross income test used to calculate SNAP eligibility. As a result of the loss of discretion, USDA claims that it will be harder for participants to access SNAP in at least 29 states.

This year, other proposed rules sought to impose strict time limits on adult SNAP participants without dependents and roll back SNAP’s categorical eligibility provisions, which make it easier to certify for both SNAP and school meals. NWA will be releasing template comments to assist agencies and individuals in speaking out about this latest proposed rule. Comments are due by December 2.

Congress Remains in Recess – Connect with Your Member of Congress Today!

Congress is now entering its second and final week of the October recess. While members of Congress remain in their home communities, it is a prime opportunity to engage legislators and invite them to visit WIC clinics in their district! Please see the below Action of the Month for additional information on how to connect with your member of Congress and arrange a clinic visit.

Legislators are expected to return to Washington on October 15. Once legislators return, there will be approximately five weeks for appropriators to reach agreement on fiscal year 2020 funding before the current continuing resolution expires. Senate appropriators have yet to agree to the allocation of federal funding to the twelve different subcommittees, with Senate Republicans arguing for additional spending in Homeland Security to support a wall on the US-Mexico border. House and Senate appropriators must agree to allocation levels before the Senate-drafted bills can advance. If an agreement is not reached by November 21, another continuing resolution will be necessary to extend federal funding into December and avoid a government shutdown.

White House Bans Immigrants Who Would Rely on Medicaid, ACA Subsidies

On late Friday evening, the White House issued a proclamation that restricts the issuance of visas to immigrants who cannot demonstrate that they are able to pay for health insurance coverage within 30 days. The proclamation specifically targets immigrants who would otherwise access Medicaid or federal subsidies for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans. Although Medicaid requires visa-holders to wait five years to access services (with the exception of pregnant women in 16 states), the Affordable Care Act ensures that visa-holders are eligible to receive subsidies for individual marketplace plans. The proclamation does not apply to legal permanent residents, asylees, or refugees.

The proclamation is distinct from the DHS final public charge rule, but it works in tandem with the DHS rule to deny legal status to immigrants who are otherwise legally permitted to enter the country and access federal programs. At least nine lawsuits have been filed against the DHS final public charge rule, with two hearings in the last week to determine whether the October 15 effective date should be delayed by an injunction. In several of the lawsuits, NWA joined other nutrition, anti-hunger, and anti-poverty groups in filing an amicus brief in support of a preliminary injunction.