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Changes in Government Assistance Programs Affect IFPO Clients
The end of the COVID-19 federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023 means significant changes to government assistance programs critical to our IFPO clients.
Food Benefits: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Reduced
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress increased SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) through Emergency Allotments to help mitigate America’s deepening hunger crisis. Most households received the maximum benefit amount. These temporary boosts ended on March 1, 2023. As a result, all SNAP recipients have suffered cuts to their benefits each month. The average SNAP benefits have fallen to $6 per person per day. Older adults at the minimum benefit level have seen their monthly SNAP benefits fall from $281 to $95.
These cuts come just as food prices are soaring, so our clients are simultaneously impacted by both higher food costs and reduced food benefits. Combined with the strain of skyrocketing heating, transportation, and housing costs, our clients are facing a hunger cliff.
SNAP recipients can maximize the benefits they receive by reporting if their income goes down or if they experience any increase in housing costs or other expenses, including medical costs.
In addition, on May 11, 2023, the COVID-19 federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) will end. This will have a negative effect on Able Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) and college students.
The CFBNJ Resource Access Team is on-site the 4th Wednesday of each month to help clients understand SNAP benefits and assist with enrollment.
Health Coverage: NJ FamilyCare Recertification Needed
Since March of 2020, NJ FamilyCare (a NJ State extension of Medicaid) has followed special rules related to the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. These rules have allowed most NJ FamilyCare members to keep their health coverage, even if they ordinarily would no longer qualify, because, for example, their income grew too high. However, Congress recently passed legislation requiring state Medicaid programs to return to pre-pandemic federal rules as of April 1, 2023.
NJ FamilyCare is going to start re-determining members’ eligibility on April 1, 2023. This means that all members enrolled in an NJ FamilyCare program will be reviewed to see if they still qualify for coverage. As part of this review, many members will receive mail from the State of New Jersey or their County Board of Social Services. Members will have to provide or confirm additional information so that NJ FamilyCare can decide whether they still qualify for healthcare coverage. Members who do not respond to NJ FamilyCare mail may lose their coverage.
To get ready to receive their renewal packets, our IFPO clients should make sure their addresses are up to date with NJ FamilyCare.
Health Coverage for Kids Expanded: NJ FamilyCare to Cover All Kids
As of January 1, 2023, all state residents under the age of 19 now qualify for health insurance coverage in New Jersey. Through its “Cover All Kids” program, the state is expanding NJ FamilyCare to every uninsured child in the state. Coverage may be through Medicaid or Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), depending on the family’s income. CHIP provides health coverage to children and families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but who still can't afford private coverage.
Immigration status does not matter. All children are eligible, and use of the program will not be considered a “public charge” that might affect the family’s chances to apply for a green card. NJ FamilyCare will cover the care needed to keep kids healthy, including well child visits, vaccinations (shots), and dental exams. It will also pay any costs if a child gets sick or injured.
NJ Citizen Action, a statewide advocacy organization, came to the IFPO on March 29th to register clients’ children on-site for this coverage.
End of SNAP Emergency Allocations
NJ SNAP Benefit Changes: What You Need to Know
Maximizing SNAP Benefits: Medical Deductions
To receive Medicaid Renewal packets-- call to update your address: 1-(800) 701-0710
Getting Help — Applying For and Maximizing Benefits
Free Legal Advise and Assistance
888-LSNJ-LAW for telephone advise and direct referral
Apply online at: lsnjlawhotline.org