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The Feds Sent Letters to 44 States Including Ohio to Fix SNAP Application Errors, Inefficiencies
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/22/2024

The majority of states are not processing food assistance applications on time and making too many payment errors, according to the federal government.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to the governors of 44 states earlier this month that are failing to meet federal standards when it comes to processing applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The states include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

The letters call for states to take immediate action to improve their rates on at least one of three metrics: application processing timeliness rate, payment error rate and case and procedural error rate, which relates to how accurately states are approving or denying benefits. In the letter, the federal government offers federal assistance and resources to help.

“USDA is ready to work with you to ensure that those in need of nutrition assistance receive timely and accurate benefits,” the letter said. “USDA stands ready to provide technical assistance on policy and operational options available to your State, best practices from other States, and other support.”

Most states are still trying to get their programs on track due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Alicia Huguelet, a senior policy analyst with the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"I think this letter is really trying to get a message to states that, 'Hey, we recognize you did a great job during the pandemic. You kept benefits going, and we now have to figure out how to get back to normal order in normal operations,'" she said.

During the pandemic, the federal government modified rules for SNAP that temporarily increased benefits and relaxed other requirements. This ended in February of last year.

Some advocates say under-resourced state health departments are struggling to catch up following the end of many pandemic-era rules.

For example, states are undergoing the process of Medicaid unwinding, where they are assessing the eligibility of millions of Medicaid enrollees and disenrolling those who no longer qualify for Medicaid. That’s following the end of federal rules that barred states from disenrolling most people during the height of the pandemic.



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