In May, the federal government asked for comments on changing how it calculates the poverty line (read our previous blog post on this topic). The federal poverty line represents the smallest amount of money that a family will need to cover its basic needs. Other agencies then use the amount to determine who can get help from federal programs. This small change will impact children and families across the country — 16.4 percent of Arkansans earn less than the current poverty line.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has serious concerns about these proposed changes. We outlined those concerns when we submitted public comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) last week. Moving the poverty line would change who benefits from federal programs like Medicaid, CHIP, SNAP, etc. — programs that children and families rely on for their health care or their next meal.
The proposed changes ignore the families and individuals who will suffer from the change by not considering the impact it will have. Changing how the government sets the poverty line does nothing to change poverty. It does not help families who are struggling each day. It does not consider if they are unable to feed their children or take them to a doctor.
It changes whether the government says that they are poor enough to get help.
Read our full comments here: AACF Comment on Poverty Definition Change (PDF)