Capitol Correspondence - 05.28.19

Administration Seeks to Change How Poverty Is Measured

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ANCOR is sharing this article by NPR because people with disabilities are more likely to experience poverty than their peers without disabilities. Additionally, the majority of disability supports are funded by Medicaid, which is an income-based benefits program run in a state-federal partnership. The official notice for this proposal is available online, with a comment deadline of July 21.

As written by NPR:

“The Trump administration is considering changing the way the government measures poverty, which has anti-poverty groups worried that many low-income individuals will be pushed off assistance programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and Head Start.

The possible change would involve adjusting the poverty line annually using a different inflation measure, one that would result in a slower increase over time.


The current poverty line for a family of four is about $26,000. Each year, the government adjusts the line for inflation based on the consumer price index. Among the options that the administration is considering is whether to use a version called the ‘chained CPI,’ which is lower than the rate currently used. The chained CPI assumes that as the prices of goods go up, individuals substitute less expensive items, thereby reducing their overall expenses.

Some economists argue that this is a more accurate way to measure inflation, and both Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations tried, without success, to introduce the use of the chained CPI in federal programs.


The government recently began producing a supplemental poverty measure that most experts think is more accurate. It takes into account such things as medical and child care expenses, geographic differences in the cost of housing and the value of benefits such as food stamps and tax credits. But that measure is not used when determining eligibility for government programs.”