More Obamacare Woes: Food Stamp Roster May Grow, Costing Billions

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 06:52 AM

By Amy Woods

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A national study analyzing the Affordable Care Act's effects on Medicaid and food-stamp eligibility likely will show an increase in Americans receiving such assistance under the new legislation, Politico reported.

Greg Mills, the Urban Institute senior fellow leading the study, said its outcome could show an increase in participation of 3-5 percent in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, alone.

"So in percentage terms, it's not going to be very large, but we're talking about a very large program," Mills said. "It would have a substantial financial effect."

He said the impact on taxpayers easily will reach millions of dollars and might approach billions because most of the uninsured now covered by Medicaid are also eligible for food stamps. When they sign up, the program's budget will spike.

The 25 states that have accepted federal Medicaid expansion could put programs in place prompting the uninsured to enroll in SNAP. Some states have an automatic system that integrates the two.

The increased participation — compounded by a $5 billion reduction in SNAP's budget this fiscal year because of the expiration of the 2009 stimulus package — is the reason the Department of Agriculture called for the survey. The department's Food Nutrition Service agency monitors SNAP.

House Republicans already have targeted SNAP as a bloated program that needs to be cut.

"It's troubling that three years after passage, we're still learning about new unexpected consequences from Obamacare," Rep. Randy Neugebauer wrote in an email to Politico.

"I'd be very interested to see a report on the interaction between SNAP and Obamacare," the Texas Republican wrote. "As a member of the ag [Agriculture] committee, we've been dealing with the interaction between SNAP and other federal programs for years, and I've been a strong advocate for reforming the categorical-eligibility provisions that allow individuals to receive benefits when they don't otherwise qualify for SNAP."

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