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Shelley Starkey

Trump Administration Proposes Consolidating Public Assistance Programs

June 28, 2018 | Uncategorized | Comments
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Last week, the White House released a proposal to make sweeping changes to the Executive Branch of the government, reorganizing agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among others. Among the more notable proposed changes is to consolidate certain public assistance programs under HHS and rebrand the agency as the Department of Health and Public Welfare. Congress’s approval will be needed to make most of the large-scale changes, which poses a significant challenge to the plan’s enactment.

Under the proposal, the new Department of Health and Public Welfare would continue oversight of Medicaid and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, and would assume responsibility for two programs currently administered by the Department of Agriculture: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The proposal would also establish a new agency with the authority to set cross-program policies, which may include provisions such as adding uniform work requirements to the programs housed under the Department. The National Council strongly opposes any provision that would limit enrollees’ participation in Medicaid, a likely consequence of instituting wide-ranging work requirements.

The plan, titled “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations,” is a product of an executive order signed last year, directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a plan to “reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.” Importantly, many of the recommendations would require Congressional action and would likely encounter strong opposition from some members.