Thanks to KY Voices for Health for this analysis. For an even deeper analysis, see this article from KY Center for Economic Policy.
HB7 makes broad changes to the way we provide medical, food, and income assistance to our fellow Kentuckians with very low incomes. HB7 adds harsh penalties and bans. HB7 also adds more unnecessary red tape and reporting requirements for most SNAP and Medicaid enrollees, the majority of whom are working in low-wage jobs, students, caregivers, retired, or living with a disability.
- Creates numerous barriers to benefits that will hurt the vast majority of Kentucky families and low-wage workers who are doing all the right things.
- Restricts eligibility for SNAP food assistance at a time when food prices are rising and pandemic “max allotments” will soon be ending.
- Requires already low-wage-earning Kentuckians to lose nearly everything before getting help with groceries (limited to $2,500 in assets for most individuals and $3,750 for seniors and people with disabilities; which includes what's in their checking account, savings, & retirement).
- Establishes new penalties, including a 5 year ban across all public assistance programs.
- Sets an impossible timeframe for processing 180,000+ Medicaid renewals within 60 days after the federal Public Health Emergency ends. That’s far more renewals than normal with fewer state workers, meaning eligible Kentuckians are at risk of losing coverage.
- Codifies illegal work reporting requirements that have been struck down in federal court.
- Adds excessive paperwork, verification requirements, and red tape for families and hospitals, requiring more frequent reporting and documentation to CHFS.
- Dictates burdensome tracking requirements for all county jailers.
- Expands a costly and unproven ban from food assistance for parents and children whose families are behind on child support.
- Leads to higher rates of uninsured Kentuckians and more uncompensated care for hospitals and other providers.
Bottom line: This bill creates cracks in the foundation of Kentucky’s safety-net that will trip families and low-wage workers up when they fall on hard times, making it harder for them and their community to recover. Fewer Kentuckians will get the benefits they need to stay out of poverty, care for their families, and gain stable financial footing.
Kentucky’s benefit programs are already designed to ensure eligibility & prevent fraud
In order to get benefits, applicants must currently prove:
- Residence in Kentucky
- Household composition
- Current income and income changes
- Employment status
- Loss of employment and loss of income
- Certain benefits require proof of bank balances, home & vehicle ownership (or lack thereof)
- Recipients must re-verify some or all of this information at least annually
Kentuckians are already losing benefits due to penalties and red tape:
- Excessive call center wait times make it nearly impossible for people to resolve enrollment issues.
- Staff shortages mean caseworkers cannot sufficiently assist people and process documents in a timely manner, leading to unnecessary disenrollments and reapplications. These disenrollments are occurring when eligible individuals and families have submitted required documents, but there are technical errors and system backlogs.
- Non-custodial parents can already lose food assistance benefits for non-compliance with child support.
Kentucky already detects fraud in a number of ways, including:
- Alerts from state, federal, and other external data sources that detect discrepancies
- Individual participant data from the USDA used to investigate/shut down retailers
- Reports of fraud or trafficking made to the Office of Inspector General’s Division of Audits and Investigations. (these reports can be made anonymously 24/7 by calling toll-free 800-372-2970, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail)
- Law enforcement officers identify potential SNAP fraud during the course of other investigations
In total, state data shows a fraud rate of about 1% for beneficiaries.