Capitol Correspondence - 06.24.19

House Committee Leaders Criticize Admin Proposal to Change Poverty Level Formula

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ANCOR is sharing this letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by the Democratic chairs of 11 Congressional committees because changing the calculation for the federal poverty level could affect people with disabilities.

As written by the Democratic Committee chairs:

“Relying on a slower-growing index to adjust the poverty threshold would overturn a long-standing and well-understood approach to measuring poverty in the United States; artificially understate the number of U.S. residents facing hardship to an even greater degree than does the current austere poverty threshold; and shrink eligibility for many public programs that Congress intended to make available for the poor and lower-income individuals, families, and communities. While the harmful effects of such a change would be relatively small in the first year, they would grow increasingly large over time, harming people that we and our committee colleagues represent.”

Separately, as part of its coalition work with the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), ANCOR signed onto a letter with 28 other organizations sharing concerns about these changes with OMB. 

As writtein in the CCD letter:

CCD represents millions of people with disabilities who receive services with eligibility requirements based in part or in full on the federal poverty measure. People with disabilities live in poverty at more than twice the rate of people without disabilities; while people with disabilities make up approximately 12 percent of the U.S. working-age population, they account for more than half of those living in long-term poverty. More than 65 percent of the 17.9 million working-age adults with disabilities participate in at least one safety net or income support program.1 As such, people with disabilities would be disproportionately impacted by any change to the poverty guidelines or how they change from year to year based on changes.

We understand OMB is not requesting comment on the poverty guidelines or the impact of changes to those guidelines at this time. Obviously, a change that would impact the millions of people receiving SNAP, TANF, housing subsidies, SSI, Medicaid, Medicare, free and reduced price school meals, LIHEAP, Head Start, WIC, and numerous other federal, state, and local services2 would need to go through a robust analysis and also the full notice and public comment process. In addition, we would remind OMB that any index is only as useful as the measure it is being used to inflate. For example, there is extensive historical research into how incomplete the federal poverty measure is; any change to the inflationary rate will not adequately address how the poverty measure fails to capture health care spending and costs as well as changes in the percentage of household expenditures used for child care and housing.”