Fears of losing SNAP Benefits, Medicaid arise as debt ceiling discussion continues

Talks are underway to keep the U.S. from hitting the debt ceiling.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers continue negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and many Virginia families could be impacted.

Thousands of Virginians are part of government assistance programs like SNAP and Social Security, causing some to fear the loss of these benefits.

“We shouldn’t be holding the debt ceiling hostage in order to harm low-income individuals and older adults and people with disabilities,” said Cassie Edner, a public benefits attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center.

There’s a dire need to raise the borrowing limit, but there are many ways to go about it. A House bill would cause cuts to governmental programs like SNAP and Medicare and change work requirements for the programs.

“There currently is work requirements in SNAP, and this would increase the work requirements and there’s also work requirements, and this would make states have to limit their ability to run their program or lose funding through the TANF block grant,” Edner said. “That doesn’t just affect people receiving TANF; it also affects other programs that receive their money through that TANF grant block.”

If cuts are made and work requirements are changed, 8,174 individuals and 13,896 children would be affected in Virginia alone. According to data from the poverty law center, 22,000 people between the ages of 50 to 55 could lose their SNAP benefits, which means they lose their main source of income for food.

“It would just take away money from children, food off people’s tables. It would take healthcare. These programs really help families,” Edner said.

Edner says if you’re a benefit recipient and don’t want cuts to be made, you can take action by making some phone calls.

“The best way to prevent this from happening is for people to call their representatives and let them know you don’t want these cuts. Once it’s passed, just know your rights. That’s the best thing people can do to prepare,” said Edner.

You can find helpful phone numbers on the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s website.