On May 7, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a request for comments on a proposal to change how the official poverty measure (OPM) is adjusted for inflation. The proposal, if enacted, would shift the way the OPM is calculated from its current threshold, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), to a different measure of inflation. On June 18, NACo submitted comments to OMB highlighting counties’ perspective on the proposal.
Changing the federal poverty level could impact counties, as we finance and administer federal assistance programs in communities across the country. For instance, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which is county-administered in ten states, relies on the federal poverty measurement to establish program eligibility for residents. By changing this threshold, fewer residents may access these support services, and counties could face increased demands for assistance from individuals and families no longer receiving these benefits. A similar impact could occur related to the Medicaid program if fewer individuals are covered, since counties are also mandated to provide some level of health care for low-income, uninsured or underinsured residents.
Given the central role counties play in determining federal program eligibility and delivering services to residents, NACo’s comments highlight the local perspective on OMB’s proposed changes. NACo encourages OMB to consider the full scope of the proposal’s potential impacts and study potential cost shifts to counties before finalizing a new threshold.
- Click here to view NACo’s comments on OMB’s proposal
- Click here to view the Request for Comment on the Consumer Inflation Measures Produced by Federal Statistical Agencies