(VitalNews.org) – Iowa will be getting tougher on Medicaid and food stamps eligibility as Governor Kim Reynolds signs a bill beefing up the verification system.
Until now, Iowa has set income limits for people applying for these government benefits, but the state did not consider material assets applicants might have. That will directly change. The new law cuts off eligibility for anyone with more than $15,000 in liquid assets (cash) and personal property.
The state will not count an applicant’s home value or the value of their primary car against them when determining eligibility. Applicants will also be allowed to have a second car valued at less than $10,000 and still qualify.
These changes are predicted to boot 8,000 people off Medicaid and 2,800 off the food stamp rolls. That amounts to about 1 percent of those currently receiving these benefits in Iowa. It will save taxpayers about $8 million.
Medicaid is a federally funded health insurance program for people with low incomes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is what most people refer to informally as “food stamps.” That name originated in the days when program recipients received coupon booklets in various denominations, like cash, that had to be handed to cashiers in exchange for food.
Some Democrats criticized the bill, saying it would remove people from the benefits rolls who needed help and were actually eligible. Democratic state Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell said, “This bill will remove people from SNAP due to discrepancies.” She also said a high percentage of benefits receivers were children and disabled people.
Republicans disagreed, saying eligible people will receive benefits. Rep. Joel Fry said the bill will take nothing away from qualified people to receive help, but it will help the “safety net” of those benefit programs stay “sustainable.”
Democrats countered that the law changes will mean Iowa will lose $42 million in federal tax money by 2027.
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