America’s safety net of Medicaid and food stamps is at risk from Trump’s budget ax

Photo: CNN Money/Shutterstock via CNN Wire

NEW YORK — President Trump’s budget ax is likely to hit an array of federal safety net programs.

Set to be unveiled Tuesday, the Trump administration’s budget is expected to cut spending on Medicaid and food stamps. Details are still forthcoming, but Republicans have long sought to downsize these programs, saying they are rife with fraud and stop low-income Americans from being self-sufficient.

Trump officials revealed an outline of their budget plan — known as a “skinny” budget — in March. That outline showed multiple aid programs, including rental and heating assistance, Meals on Wheels and legal aid, coming under the knife.

The Trump budget also assumes major tax reform will occur, and he’s called for major tax cuts that could disproportionately help wealthy individuals and corporations.

“The indications are strong this budget will feature ‘Robin Hood in reverse’ policies on an unprecedented scale,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning advocacy group.

Here are more details about the two main federal programs for the poor:

Medicaid: Medicaid is the nation’s largest single health insurance program, covering more than 70 million low-income children, adults, disabled and elderly people. That’s nearly one in five Americans.

The program covers nearly half of all births in the U.S. and just over half of all spending on long-term care. Two in five children are covered by the program, as are three in five nursing home residents.

Spending on Medicaid in fiscal 2016 totaled $553 billion, with the federal government picking up 63% of the tab and states paying for 37%. Medicaid is the third largest program domestic program in the federal budget, behind Social Security and Medicare. It’s also the biggest source of federal funding for states.

Obamacare expanded the program to cover low-income adults. That added 11 million people to the rolls in the 31 states that opted to expand.

The American Health Care Act would slash $880 billion from Medicaid over the next 10 years, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of an early version of the Republican health care bill. It would reduce federal support by 25% compared to current law. (An updated score is set to be released Wednesday.)

The legislation, which is expected to be overhauled in the Senate, would end enhanced funding for Medicaid expansion in 2020. Also, it would reduce federal support for the entire Medicaid program. States would either receive a set amount of funding per enrollee, known as a per capita grant, or fixed funding in the form of a block grant.

A senior administration official confirmed to CNN that Trump’s budget assumes the president signs the bill, which would cement these cuts into law. It’s possible his budget could include further cuts to Medicaid.

GOP lawmakers and Health Secretary Tom Price would also allow states to require Medicaid recipients to pay premiums and to work. Very few people in the program today pay premiums, and the Obama administration did not allow states to impose work mandates.

Food stamps: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, helps just over 42 million low-income Americans put food on the table.

Nearly 70% of participants are in families with children, while more than one-quarter are in households with seniors or people with disabilities, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Enrollment in SNAP soared in the years after the Great Recession, leading some critics to label former President Obama the “food stamp president.” It peaked in 2013, with 47.6 million Americans in the program.

The program cost $71 billion in fiscal 2016. The average participant received $125.50 a month.

SNAP participants are required to work, unless they are exempt because of age, disability or another reason. Children, seniors, and those with disabilities comprise almost two-thirds of all SNAP participants, according to the federal Department of Agriculture, which administers the program.

Childless, able-bodied adults who aren’t working can only receive food stamps for a maximum of three months over a three-year period.

Enrollment in food stamps hasn’t return to pre-recession levels. In 2008, there were a little more than 28 million American enrolled in SNAP.

Based on a document circulated on Capitol Hill from the White House, the budget will slash $193 billion from SNAP. That may not go down too well with those who voted for him.

A CNN analysis found that of the top 10 places with the largest percentage of residents who use SNAP, seven voted for Trump in the 2016 elections.