HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A proposed rule change by the Trump administration could result in up to 200,000 Pennsylvanians losing their SNAP benefits.
Currently, people in Pennsylvania and 42 other states who qualify for benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program are automatically eligible for SNAP benefits.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a change that would end that practice. They say it is a loophole that allows people to receive SNAP benefits who wouldn’t normally qualify.
“Unfortunately, automatic eligibility has expanded to allow even millionaires and others who simply receive a TANF funded brochure to become eligible for SNAP even when they clearly don’t need it,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “This proposal will not only save money but, more importantly, it preserves the integrity of the program.”
Some Pennsylvania Democrats are speaking out against the proposed change.
“This proposed change to SNAP benefits is a punishment for working families across America,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “I oppose this ludicrous change that will hurt tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians, creating an undue burden and more food insecurity for families, older Pennsylvanians and people with disabilities who already struggle to put food on the table.”
The governor argues that the change would hurt the state’s economy due to retailers relying on people with SNAP benefits spending that money.
The Pennsylvania departments of Human Services and Education are gathering public comments opposing the proposed change, which they will submit within 60 days.
State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) wrote a letter to the USDA, opposing the proposal.
“This proposed rule change is a shameful continuation of the larger nationwide attack on programs for individuals and families who have fallen on hard times,” Hughes wrote.
The USDA estimates 3.1 million people would be affected across the country. It estimates it would save $9.4 billion over five years.