Happy Friday! We have NEWS!
SNAP Gap VICTORY!
Yesterday, the Baker Administration announced the rollout of the MassHealth Connector/SNAP “checkbox” online application! YES, families and individuals applying for subsidized healthcare can now use their MassHealth applications as a SNAP application!
Check out MLRI’s tweet thread thanking our legislative champions, our partners at NASW-MA and all the members of the Common Apps Coalition, and DTA and EOHHS for working to get this victory over the finish line! And, see this press release from EOHHS. We should CELEBRATE this victory!
As EOHHS says in its press release: "Through this option, when members opt in through the application or renewal process, MassHealth will securely transmit applicant information to DTA to initiate a resident’s SNAP application. DTA will then reach out to the individual to capture any additional required information needed to complete the SNAP application. This streamlined process will create an opportunity to reduce the gap between those on MassHealth and those potentially eligible for SNAP (known as the “SNAP gap”) among current MassHealth members..."
Thanks to our House and Senate CHAMPIONS, Senator Sal DiDomenico and Rep Jay Livingstone for fighting in the FY21 and FY22 budgets to include language requiring the Administration to break down access barriers. A HUGE thanks to the MA Legislature.
Special August 9th (2nd Tuesday) SNAP Coalition meeting
DTA and DEEC will be giving some updates on HeadStart and SNAP ET Child Care. DTA and MLRI will also share information on the SNAP self-dec policy on medical expenses.
Victories in the FY23 Budget!
The Governor signed the FY23 Budget yesterday. We have some victories to share.
A 10% grant increase for DTA cash benefits (TAFDC and EAEDC), effective October 1st. HUGE Congrats to the Lift Our Kids Campaign, and huge thanks to Rep Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico!
Universal Free School Meals for this upcoming school year! Huge Congrats to the FeedKids Campaign! Huge thanks to Rep Andy Vargas and Senator Sal Di Domenico.
Boost in Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) funding: The FY23 budget includes $12 million plus language that permits the state to carry over and spend unspent HIP funds from FY22, which is estimated at $8 million. HUGE congrats to Mass Food Systems Collaborative and the HIP Campaign!
$30M in MEFAP (Mass Emergency Food Assistance Program) administered by the four MA Food Banks.
Common Application status - almost there! The Governor released his FY23 Budget with vetoes and amended language. The Governor did NOT veto Outside Section 5, our Common Apps language, but he did make some small language changes to remove the state-funded Veterans Services benefits because these benefits are locally administered by cities and towns.
The Common Apps Coalition has asked the Legislature to adopt the Governor’s revised language because it still protects the core goal of the legislation to create a common application for cash, food, healthcare, childcare, housing, fuel assistance and other needs-based benefits. We’ve asked the Legislature to re-enact the language (now H.5018) this weekend if possible. We will keep you posted. Calls, emails or social media you can do today and this weekend to urge your House and Senate member to reenact the Common Apps provision (H.5018) would be great!
What happens now? The MA Legislature will be working all weekend to take up veto overrides, review and re-enact any revised language the Guv sent over, while also continuing deliberations on the Economic Development package before the Conference Committee. The Eco Dev package - among other things - includes both the Hunger Free Campus Initiative championed by Senator Chandler, as well as the Cliff Effects initiative championed by Senator Lesser).
A LOT going on this weekend, so just hang tight til we have more news early next week! And do not despair, if the MA Legislature does not finish up all their business this weekend, there are definitely opportunities to get initiatives passed this fall in “Informal Session.”
How to protect SNAP from being stolen - encourage households to re-PIN their EBT cards!
At Tuesday’s Coalition meeting DTA shared robust information about “skimming”. DTA reported that in the past couple of weeks, about 1,000 households have had about $500,000 in SNAP stolen through skimming. At this time, because of federal restrictions (USDA has told states that states need to use state dollars to replace the stolen SNAP), there is no process to replace the SNAP that is stolen. DTA is replacing cash assistance that is stolen.
What you can do:
Encourage all SNAP households you work with to re-PIN their cards, and help them with re-PINing!
Share resources on protecting benefits: DTA has a website with fliers in 6 languages on re-PINing in multiple languages, step by step directions, social media graphics and more. Check out Mass.gov/ProtectYourEBT and please share widely.
For help or issues with re-PINing, call the DTA Assistance Line (877-382-2363), the Senior Assistance Line for older adults 60+ (833-712-8027), or, if a client prefers, go in person to a DTA office. Note that the only way to re-PIN is through the EBT Customer Service Line (800- 997-2555). DTA staff can help clients navigate the system, but cannot re-PIN a card themselves.