The House Ways and Means budget released its FY18 Budget yesterday. Unfortunately the budget does not include language or funding to close the SNAP Gap, although there continues to be deep concerns with the growing health care/MassHealth costs in the budget.
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The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) is launching the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), a new, statewide program designed to improve affordability and access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for SNAP households.
DTA recently updated a number of materials in the DTA Online Guide (policy manual for DTA staff). These updates were sent to DTA staff and case managers on Friday, 3/31, and are important for community partners to know! For example, it can be helpful to point directly to DTA policy if you are talking with a DTA worker about a case issue.
MBTA Youth Pass
Our friends at EmPath, On Solid Ground,CSP UMass and CHAPA are hosting the April 6th Webinar described below. All are welcome to register and listen in.
And don't forget, Ways and Means Budget hearing on Friday, March 31st at the State House (Gardner Auditorium) starting at 10 AM (register at 9 AM to speak).
Looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at the SNAP Coalition Meeting at St Francis House in Boston. The House and Senate Ways and Means Committees are in full throttle mode with multiple hearings on the FY18 State Budget. The PUBLIC hearing is this coming Friday. March 31st at the State House, Gardner Auditorium. More details to follow. Ways and Means is also hosting an agency hearing today in Fall River and Wednesday at UMass Amherst.
Attached are THREE fact sheets:
SNAP Gap/Common App FY18 Budget Fact Sheet
Please see the MassHealth alert below written in High Bureaucratese. Apparently there was a glitch from an unspecified date that was detected in early March and fixed on March 17 affecting an unspecified number of people being redetermined or under deadlines to return verification documents that resulted in cases being closed without notice.
The alert says that starting this week, MassHealth will be reinstating benefits back to the date of the no-notice closing and issuing new 14-day advance notices of termination.
DTA BEACON Systems Issues Persists today (3/24):
As of 2 PM today, DTA Central reports it is still working to fix the BEACON and their systems issues.
DTA has informed us that as of this morning BEACON (DTA's eligibility system) is down statewide. This means, for example, that workers cannot go in to look at case information or take other action on a case in the computer system.
DTA has added language to the Assistance Line that there is a statewide systems problem. They are also rescheduling all SNAP interviews that were scheduled today for Monday, and working on informing clients who had interviews scheduled today.
We will keep you all updated as we learn more.
We have a couple of important events coming up for your calendars and the release of the SNAP Advocacy Guide!
Immigrant/Benefits Training: Thursday, March 30th in Boston:
Attached is a flier on the annual Immigrant/Benefits Training, Thursday March 30th from 9:30 to 4 PM. To register, go to MCLE's website: http://www.mcle.org/product/catalog/code/2170141P01