Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Mass. Senate considers streamlining SNAP access

A Massachusetts State Senate committee is considering a proposal that could connect more Bay State residents to SNAP benefits.

The Senate’s version of the state budget would appropriate $1 million for creating a common application for MassHealth – the state’s Medicaid and child health care program – and SNAP benefits. The new application would be created by June of 2017 and would incorporate subsidized housing benefits a year later. The proposal would also set aside $1.9 million for new caseworkers to help guide enrollment in public benefits programs.

According to the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, there are about 1.35 million MassHealth members who are potentially eligible for SNAP benefits, but only 785,000 SNAP recipients. Supporters of the initiative say creating a common application would help improve public health by addressing hunger and easing access to nutritious food.

“In the long run, it will lower health care costs by improving health,” said Dr. Deborah Frank, the founder and principal investigator of Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center. “It will also place many fewer bureaucratic barriers between families and getting what they need.”

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