Home > Blog > Proposed Changes to Federal Poverty Level Calculation Will Cut Children’s Eligibility for Programs Over Time

Pittsburgh, PA, May 31st, 2019

This month, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget proposed changing how the Census Bureau’s Official Poverty Measure (“OPM”) is adjusted annually for inflation. The OPM is used to calculate the federal poverty level, which determines income eligibility for a host of programs benefiting children, from nutrition services to health insurance. This is no minor procedural change. If enacted, it would have a wide impact and cause significant damage to the social safety net in our country.

The OPM is adjusted annually by general inflation (Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers) and the administration is proposing moving to a different adjustment calculation. The proposed lower annual adjustment would, in effect, impose automatic eligibility cuts, harming low-income children (as well as parents, pregnant women, seniors and individuals with disabilities) who depend on these programs.

Moreover, the severity of the cut would become sharper each year. These adjustments to the federal poverty level would ultimately result in lower income eligibility limits for programs that promote the healthy development of children, and help families stay afloat. These include children and families enrolled in:

  • Medicaid and CHIP
  • WIC
  • TANF
  • SNAP
  • Subsidized childcare
  • National School Lunch Program
  • School Breakfast Program
  • Evidence-based home visiting

Allies for Children joins other child health advocates and calls for the proposal to be rejected. We encourage others concerned about preserving vital programs for children to submit comments. Comments on this proposal are due June 21, 2019 and can be submitted here.