Online Services for Key Low-Income Benefit Programs
What States Provide Online with Respect to SNAP, TANF, Child Care Assistance, Medicaid, CHIP, and General Assistance
Virtually all states have made basic program information on the five main state-administered low-income benefit programs — SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps), Medicaid, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and child care assistance — available to the public via the Internet. Many states, however, go much further, providing information such as application forms and data on the number of participants. This paper provides links to state information available online for these benefit programs. Read more
By making affordable health care available to millions of low-income, uninsured Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will go a long way towards helping families who struggle on a daily basis to afford life’s most basic necessities. Health care reform’s impact on low-income people’s lives, however, goes beyond providing them health insurance coverage. It has the potential to significantly affect low-income individuals and families’ ability to apply for and receive other benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child care subsidies, that are critical to helping them make ends meet.
When the ACA’s coverage expansions take effect, it is likely that a large share of people (mostly parents and adults without children) who will be newly eligible for Medicaid coverage will already be enrolled in SNAP or other benefit programs. In other cases, individuals who apply for health coverage due to the new law will not have had contact with state human services in the past and many may be eligible for other benefits, such as SNAP, child care subsidies, or energy assistance. Careful consideration of how states will address and leverage applicants’ or participants’ connection to other benefits and services as a part of their health reform implementation efforts could help to yield better outcomes for families and efficiencies for state administration.
Each module of this toolkit provides states with tools and suggestions for a guided process that can be used to review the current eligibility and enrollment service delivery model and compare the current model to the desired future model. The modules provide context on the importance of the topic being addressed and how a state’s decision on the issue can affect a family’s ability to access multiple benefits.
Complex and duplicative paperwork requirements prevent many low-income families — especially working families — from receiving benefits that can help them meet basic needs such as food, health care, and child care. Such requirements also add to state agency workloads and costs. The Center established the Project on Program Simplification and Coordination to make low-income programs easier both for eligible families to participate in and for states to administer.
LaDonna Pavetti Ph.D.
By producing analyses and providing technical assistance to states and others, the Project on Program Simplification and Coordination helps states:
- identify ways to streamline and coordinate the rules governing Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, food stamps, child care subsidy programs, and TANF income assistance programs, and
- implement these changes in ways that will improve program participation rates while reducing red tape for both states and families.
Revised May 1, 2013
Updated May 1, 2013
A Technical Assessment of SNAP and Medicaid Financial Eligibility Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Updated April 25, 2013
Updated December 11, 2012
Updated April 19, 2011
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The Center is interested in learning about innovative approaches to program simplification and alignment. If there are policies or procedures in your state that could be a model for others, please contact Stacy Dean at the Center on Budget and Policy priorities.
What Some States Are Doing
Arkansas and Louisiana use information collected by the food stamp program to renew people's Medicaid eligibility.
Oregon, Wisconsin and other states have online calculators that allow families to determine their likely benefit level.
In parts of Ohio, families applying for child care subsidies can apply for Medicaid on the same simple form.
The Medicaid applications in Maine and Nebraska ask families if they are interested in applying for other benefit programs.
Louisiana, Texas, and Washington state conduct many food stamp interviews by phone.
Utah electronically scans in applicants' documentation so they do not have to supply the same documents twice.