Photo Credit: Jason Mrachina (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Iowa Senate subcommittee forwarded a bill, SSB 3158, that adds a work requirement for Iowans on Medicaid or receiving SNAP benefits.

State Senators Jason Schultz, R-Schleswig, Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake, and Zach Boulton, D-Des Moines, made up the panel who discussed the bill and heard public feedback on Tuesday morning.

The bill requires Medicaid recipients to volunteer, work, or participate in a work program for 20 hours a week. Alternatively, recipients can participate in and comply with the requirements of a workfare program.

SSB 3158 offers a work requirement exemption for recipients who are:

  • Under 18-years-of-age
  • Over 64-years-of-age
  • Medically certified as physically or medically unfit for employment.
  • Pregnant
  • A parent or caretaker who is responsible for the care of a dependent child under one year of age.
  • A parent or caretaker who is personally providing the care or a dependent child with a serious medical condition or with a disability, as determined by DHS
  • Receiving unemployment compensation and complying with work requirements that are part of the federal-state unemployment compensation system.
  • A drug or alcohol addiction treatment and rehabilitation program participant

The bill also prevents DHS from granting “categorical eligibilty” for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Progam (SNAP) benefits. Currently, Iowans who qualify for other low-income assistance programs are eligible to receive food stamps.

The bill, if passed, it also prohibits DHS from applying a gross income standard that is higher than what federal law allows. Currently, federal guidelines state households with income at 130 percent of the federal poverty rate or lower are eligible for SNAP benefits. Iowa now grants eligibility for families that make up to 160 percent of the federal poverty level. So, a family of four in Iowa could have a household income of $41,920 and qualify for SNAP benefits rather than $34,060.

The bill also prevents DHS from seeking any work requirement waiver for SNAP assistance from the federal government unless it required by law.

The Iowa Senate passed a Medicaid work requirement bill last session, but the bill stalled in the Iowa House. 

Schultz, who chaired the subcommittee, told Caffeinated Thoughts that the bill will go through the Senate Labor Committee without amendment.

He said he wanted to give the Iowa House “a fresh bill” to work with this session and bring attention to the welfare reform efforts of the Iowa Senate.

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