Trump administration could make it harder for Virginians to qualify for Medicaid, SNAP
By Keya Vakil
June 20, 2019

Tens of thousands of Virginians could lose access to their healthcare and food assistance programs if the Trump administration goes through with a plan to change how the federal poverty line (FPL) is calculated.

The FPL is a formula the federal government uses to determine who qualifies for many different programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. It is currently calculated at $12,490 for a single adult and is adjusted each year to account for inflation. The Trump administration’s proposal would use a different measure of inflation, which would ultimately cause the poverty line to increase more slowly.

Such a change would cause millions of Americans to lose access to food and health assistance programs, which use the poverty line to determine eligibility.

Just how much damage would the administration’s new policy do?

A report from the The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, found that more than 250,000 American adults would lose Medicaid, and more than 300,000 children would lose health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the next ten years.

The report also found that millions of Americans who get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace would receive lower premium tax credits, meaning they would pay higher premiums.

While Virginia-specific numbers are hard to come by, more than 290,000 Virginians have enrolled in Medicaid following the state’s expansion of the program, and the Virginia Mercury reports that almost 80,000 of them have incomes just below the eligibility threshold.

The United States Office of Management and Budget is accepting comments on the proposal through Friday, but after that, the administration could push ahead with the changes.

The CBPP says it may have modestly overstated the impact of eligibility changes due to limitations in methodology, but reiterates that the administration’s new policy would negatively impact hundreds of thousands of lower-income Americans.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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