PUBLIC BENEFITS


The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.

Recent Public Benefits Publications

Texas Board of Human Services to Consider Eliminating Nearly All TANF Work Exemptions (12/20/2001)

On December 28th the Board of the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) will be considering a rule to eliminate nearly all work exemptions for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This would be a major change in state policy and does not take advantage of federal flexibility which allows states to provide appropriate exemptions from mandatory work requirements. The board has the option of proposing an alternative rule that would retain some of the current work exemptions.

Implementation of New Food Stamp Rules Delayed (12/19/2001)

This Policy Page explains the proposed rules and urges readers to contact the Texas Department of Human Services' (DHS) board in support of the immediate implementation of these important policy changes.

Texas is At Risk of Losing $52.7 Million in Federal TANF Funds (12/17/2001)

Texas is At Risk of Losing $52.7 Million in Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant Funds. Call to action to contact congressman or woman.

Comments Due on Proposed DHS Rules Implementing SB 43 (12/13/2001)

IMPORTANT DEADLINE: Comments Due on Proposed DHS Rules Implementing SB 43 (Children's Medicaid Simplification).

Sen. Baucus' Bill Would Give Texas $448 Million More in Federal Medicaid Funds in 2002 (11/13/2001)

On Thursday November 8, the Senate Finance Committee voted out Sen. Baucus' "Economic Recovery and Assistance for American Workers Act of 2001." This should go to the Senate floor this week. The bill has a number of important provisions that can help states maintain health insurance coverage during the recession.

New Food Stamp Rules Will Improve Access to Benefits (11/1/2001)

At its August meeting, the Texas Board of Human Services approved rules to implement a provision, which provides for new telephone interview options for Food Stamp applicants and recipients. This Policy Page explains the new rules as well as steps the anti-hunger community can take to publicize the telephone interview options to low-income Texans in need of nutrition assistance.

TIERS of Relief (09/13/2001)

Continuation of the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS) project, which looked somewhat uncertain during the 77th Legislative Session, was finally approved at $137 million in Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), the General Appropriations Act for 2002 and 2003.This Policy Page provides information on the status of TIERS, prominent features of the systemâ€"including "STARS," the newly available online self-screener for benefitsâ€"and the timeline for future development and rollout of the system.

The Straight Story: Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants in Texas (08/14/2001)

This Policy Page describes the collision between federal, state, and local law and policy which has resulted in the recent legal questions over inclusion by Texas county hospital districts of undocumented, uninsured residents in their health care programs.

Welfare, Workforce and the 77th Legislature (08/8/2001)

This Policy Page discusses the problem of inadequate funding for the Choices program and reports on the welfare and workforce bills enacted during the 77th Legislative Session.

Food Stamp Reauthorization on Fast Track (07/21/2001)

This Policy Page discusses possible improvements to Food Stamps that could be made as part of the Farm Bill and lists IMMEDIATE steps anti-hunger advocates should take to weigh in with members of the Texas Congressional delegation in charge of these decisions.

Medicaid and CHIP Funding in Final Appropriations Act (07/16/2001)

This Policy Page summarizes some of the major funding in the final state budget bill, reporting on state funding for Medicaid programs that is above the levels included in the original filed version of SB 1 (the "base budget" as drafted by the Legislative Budget Board according to the instructions of the Legislature's leadership). For a thumbnail background sketch on Texas Medicaid, see Policy Page 126.

Wrap-Up of Anti-Hunger Legislation in the 77th Session (06/7/2001)

The 77th legislature passed several important pieces of legislation this session. These bills will significantly improve access to the Food Stamp Program, provide funding for nutrition programs outreach, and assist food banks in their efforts to feed the hungry. The purpose of this Policy Page is both to inform you about these developments and to thank everyone whose hard work and support contributed to these gains in the fight against hunger.

Omnibus Medicaid Bill, SB 1156, Sent to Governor (06/4/2001)

On Sunday, May 27th the Senate concurred in House amendments to SB 43, the Children's Medicaid Simplification bill. Later that afternoon, both houses adopted the Conference Committee report on SB 1156, an omnibus bill encompassing a wide range of Medicaid policy changes. This Policy Page provides a brief description of the final version of SB 1156; a separate issue detailing SB 43 was released earlier.

Children's Medicaid Eligibility Simplification Bill, SB 43, (05/31/2001)

On Sunday, May 27th the Senate concurred with House amendments to SB 43, the Children's Medicaid Simplification bill. Later that afternoon, both houses adopted the Conference Committee report on SB 1156, an omnibus bill encompassing a wide range of Medicaid policy changes. This Policy Page provides a brief description of the final version of SB 43; a separate issue detailing SB 1156 will follow shortly.

Child Care Funding Could Fall Short (05/11/2001)

With House-Senate state budget conferees about ready to wrap up work on Senate Bill 1, the Appropriations Act for 2002-03, final funding for child care will soon be known. This Policy Page explains why more state and federal funds for child care are needed to continue serving working poor families, and provides links to proposed legislation that would affect child care in Texas.

House Amends Medicaid Simplification Bill (05/4/2001)

On Wednesday May 2, The House Committee on Public Health held a public hearing on SB 43 by Zaffirini, and adopted a committee substitute for the version approved by the full Senate (see Policy Page #125 for background on the Senate Bill). This Policy Page describes the bill that will be voted on by the full House, and provides an update on the process.

O TANF, Where Art Thou? (04/20/2001)

The Texas House and Senate have approved their versions of the state budget for 2002 and 2003, setting the stage for conferees to work out major differences in the weeks ahead. One set of issues to be resolved is the use of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which will bring at least $973 million in federal funds to Texas in the coming biennium. This Policy Page highlights significant differences in House and Senate proposals affecting TANF spending and the TANF balance that would remain by August 2003.

Medicaid Funding in the House and Senate Budget Bills (04/20/2001)

The Texas Senate voted out an appropriations bill (SB 1) on March 28, 2001, and the House of Representatives voted out their version on April 11. While a number of important questions about Medicaid funding were left unresolved by both houses, each house did recommend some additional state funding for Medicaid, above the levels included in the original filed version of SB 1.

Status Report on Chidren's Medicaid Simplification (04/9/2001)

As many readers know, the Texas Legislature is considering a number of bills designed to simplify and streamline the process of applying for (or re-certifying for) Medicaid coverage for children (under age 19). Put simply, the goal of the bills is to make the process for children's Medicaid identical to that for CHIP, so that parents could submit CHIP's TexCare Partnership application to enroll their children in either program, with no additional steps needed.

Lege Ponders Immigrant Families Bills (04/3/2001)

The Texas Legislature is considering several bills which could improve the prospects for children by improving legal immigrants' access to safety net benefits. A brief description of the bills is provided.

Food Stamp Access Will Impact Medicaid Simplification (03/22/2001)

This Policy Page describes the Food Stamp bills, how they complement the Medicaid simplification bills, and what you can do to support Food Stamp simplification.

Food Stamp Decline Means Loss of Federal Funds (03/20/2001)

County Estimates of Actual vs. Potential Food Stamp Benefit Revenue in 1999.

House Set to Vote on Food Bank Bill (03/17/2001)

On Tuesday, March 20, the House will vote on whether to fund a grants program at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to assist food banks in collecting surplus or unmarketable fresh produce offered by Texas farmers for distribution to low-income families across the state. This policy page provides background on this legislation and its importance to private, charitable efforts to feed hungry families in Texas.

Further DHS Staff Cuts Unjustifiable (02/9/2001)

The primary goal of eligibility policy reform is to minimize barriers for working families and ensure that clients receive the supports necessary to make a successful transition to self-sufficiency. Although early analyses of eligibility streamlining (by the Legislative Budget Board and the Comptroller's office) have proposed significant staff cuts for the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS), the center strongly recommends that these policy changes not be paired with any new reductions in DHS eligibility office staff.

Enhanced Food Stamp Funding (01/23/2001)

In August 2000, the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS) received $27.9 in enhanced federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its success in improving payment accuracy and reducing fraud in the Food Stamp Program in fiscal 1999. An additional $4.9 in unspent enhanced funds received in 1999 is also available for a total of $32.9 million. Last session, the legislature directed DHS to spend $2 million of the enhanced funds received in 1999 on nutrition programs outreach. DHS' proposal to the legislature for spending the $32.9 million does not include any funding for initiatives to improve access to nutrition assistance for low-income families. This Policy Page summarizes DHS' proposal and the center's recommendations for using these funds.

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