President Donald Trump wants to take a $193 billion slice out of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program over the next 10 years, and local advocates say seniors and Bay Staters with disabilities would be hardest hit by the proposal.
Patricia Baker, a policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, has crunched the numbers and has said that more than 55 percent of the Massachusetts SNAP caseload includes seniors and people with severe disabilities.
“Going after programs that help people stay in their communities and healthy is absolutely the wrong direction the country should be going in,” she stated. “We should not be attacking programs that serve low-income elders, low-income people with disabilities.”
Trump’s budget anticipates an improved economy that will result in fewer individuals in need of food stamps.
Baker is not comforted by that prediction. She noted that more than 750,000 people in the Bay State depend on SNAP food benefits, including 270,000 people with disabilities who are age 60 or younger.
Baker said New England states have been trading places as the state with the oldest population in the nation, and as a result are likely to experience the most severe impacts from the proposal, given the demographics.
“A population that’s rapidly aging, and we’re worried that health care costs, of lack of access to food, are going to have an incredibly negative impact on their ability to age-in-place in their communities and not end up in hospitals and long-term care,” she stated.
Trump also wants to shift a portion of the cost of the food stamp program to the states, starting with 10 percent in 2020.
Baker said that once the provision is fully in effect, this would equate to an additional $297 million a year for a state that already is $400 million or more in the red in the current state budget.