Sending Office: Honorable Rosa L. DeLauro
Current Cosigners (106): Reps. Jackson Lee, Raskin, Schakowsky, Velazquez, Tlaib, Danny Davis, Norton, Grijalva, Jayapal, Speier, Carolyn Maloney, Roybal-Allard, Cohen, Napolitano, DeFazio, Adams, Bonamici, Nadler, Cisneros, Moore,
DeSaulnier, Doggett, Khanna, Boyle, Pocan, Dingell, Frankel, Katie Hill, Pallone, Lewis, Brownley, Courtney, Ruppersberger, Lawrence, Richmond, Bishop, Watson Coleman, Cleaver, Titus, Sires, Fudge, Kaptur,Gomez, Sablan, Cardenas, Meeks, Deutch, Payne, Clark,
Serrano, Bustos, Yarmuth, Espaillat, Adam Smith, Mike Thompson, Tonko, Kirkpatrick, Cicilline, Kilmer, Ryan, Evans, Rush, Scanlon, Lujan, Clay, Hayes, McGovern, Pingree, Larson, Carson, Sherman, Bass, Chuy Garcia, Jeffries, Clarke, Neguse, McEachin, Doyle,
Castor, Castro, Dean, Ocasio-Cortez, Escobar, Norcross, Omar, Barragan, Blunt Rochester, Cartwright, Cummings, Slyvia Garcia, Hank Johnson, Mucarsel-Powell, Sanchez, Bennie Thompson, Waters, Matsui, Eshoo, Shalala, Meng, Beatty, Clyburn, Veasey, Kuster, Higgins,
Lawson, and David Scott
Please join us in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget for the Notice of Proposed Rule Making comment period opposing the use of chained CPI to calculate annual adjustments to the Federal Poverty Level. OMB is currently considering updates to
the calculation, including the use of chained CPI, which would have devastating consequences to the millions of individuals and families that benefit from safety net programs. A shift to the chained CPI would be a mirage – while the federal government’s definition
of poor would change, the individuals and families that fail to meet the definition would nevertheless remain poor.
Among those threatened by this potential change are the millions of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP beneficiaries would lose eligibility entirely or receive less assistance should OMB use chained CPI. Furthermore, SNAP recipients, who are our nation’s most
vulnerable—nearly 20 million are children, almost 5 million are low-income seniors, and 1.5 million are military veterans – would have their basic food assistance threatened.
How OMB calculates adjustments to the Federal Poverty Level could be a matter of life and death for the millions that rely on critical federal programs, and we must send a message that is loud and clear that we oppose the use of chained CPI. If you have
any questions regarding this letter and to join this letter, please contact Caitlin Peruccio (Caitlin.Peruccio@mail.house.gov) or Christian Lovell (Christian.Lovell@mail.house.gov)
in Rep. DeLauro’s office or Emma Mehrabi (Emma.Mehrabi@mail.house.gov) in Rep. Lee’s office. The deadline to join is 12pm, TODAY.
Rosa L. DeLauro Barbara Lee
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Text of the Letter:
Nancy Potok, Ph.D.
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20503
Dear Dr. Potok,
We write to oppose the use of the chained Consumer Price Index (chained CPI) to calculate annual adjustments to the Federal Poverty Level. The use of chained CPI would lower the poverty line, which already understates the income families need to afford the
basics, and so it would make poverty measurement less accurate. It would also cause millions of individuals and families to lose eligibility for, or receive less assistance from federal health, nutrition, energy, labor, and legal services programs. The purpose
of these vital programs is to provide support to our country’s most vulnerable including, seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children. Under the use of chained CPI – the federal government’s definition of poor would change, yet the individuals and
families that fail to meet the definition would nevertheless remain poor.
Indexing the Federal Poverty Level to chained CPI would mean more than 250,000 seniors and individuals with disabilities would lose eligibility entirely or receive less assistance from Medicare’s Part D Low-Income Subsidy Program. While seniors and individuals
with disabilities are currently forced to skip doses or cut pills in half because of the out-of-pocket costs, chained CPI would only exacerbate these issues as it would lead to higher Part D premiums and even higher cost-sharing. Chained CPI would also lead
to more than 150,000 individuals and seniors with disabilities to lose the assistance the receive in paying their Medicare Part B premiums. As a result, dual-eligibles would face premiums of over $1,500 to continue their Medicare Part B coverage.
In 2018 the total enrollment of children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) decreased by more than 800,000. Chained CPI would eliminate comprehensive health coverage under Medicaid and CHIP for more than 300,000 children,
including some pregnant women. Given the maternal mortality crisis in the United States, as well as, high infant mortality rates compared to the nineteen other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, indexing the federal poverty level
to chained CPI would only lead to more harm of our country’s most vulnerable.
The proposal would also have negative implications for recipients of other programs that have eligibility tied to the Federal Poverty Level, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, is
our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program. Currently, roughly 40 million people in more than 20 million households rely on the program to be able to afford a sufficient diet. SNAP recipients are our nation’s most vulnerable—nearly 20 million are children,
almost 5 million are low-income seniors, and 1.5 million are military veterans. Such changes to calculating the Federal Poverty Level would endanger basic food assistance for millions of Americans, and undoubtedly would increase hunger in the United States.
The Office of Management and Budget calculation adjustments to the Federal Poverty Level could be a matter of life and death for the millions of individuals that rely on critical health and nutrition programs. We are particularly disturbed that OMB would
consider unilaterally changing the poverty line methodology so as to reduce or take away health coverage, nutrition benefits, and other essential assistance from low-income people that Congress intended to assist when it enacted the rules for these programs.
We are alarmed that OMB would consider such a change without undertaking and presenting any research or analysis on these impacts or on whether the inflation rate faced by low-income households is higher or lower than the economy as a whole. We urge you not
to move forward with the proposal. For all these reasons, we oppose the use of the chained CPI to calculate annual adjustments to the Federal Poverty Level to ensure that our country’s most vulnerable do not lose access to these critical federal programs.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0