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Social Service Advocates Criticize Ohio Bill To Restrict Food Stamps And Medicaid

Ohio National Guard Specialist Parris Roberts picks up a box of food at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank food distribution, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak
/
AP
Ohio National Guard Specialist Parris Roberts picks up a box of food at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank food distribution, Thursday, June 11, 2020, in Cleveland.

Social service advocates are criticizing an Ohio bill that would toughen eligibility for food stamps and Medicaid benefits.

Beefed up monitoring of changes in food stamp recipients’ income would be required along with photos on state food stamp cards, called EBT cards, under legislation proposed by state Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster).

Schaffer also advocates adding some work requirements for recipients of Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for poor children and families. The goal of SB17 is to avoid fraud and make sure benefits are going to deserving people, said Schaffer, a long-time proponent of such restrictions.

“Many Ohioans have lost jobs, health insurance, and are suffering food insecurity," Schaffer said in a statement. "They need help, and as long as we ignore the fraud and abuse, these crimes drain our programs of resources from those who need them.”

However, officials representing county human services agencies, Ohio food banks and others testified before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday that the legislation would further strain Ohio's safety net system during the pandemic, Gongwer News Service reported.

Joel Potts, executive director of the Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association, said that there is no evidence of rampant fraud in the state welfare system and the requirements would create additional costs and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Association of Foodbanks executive directors, said the timing of the bill is bad because of the increase in households struggling to put food on the table during the coronavirus pandemic. The organization also criticized SB17 for making public benefits more stigmatizing.

"I have a very difficult time when I see families who are foregoing a very basic food benefit because of the bureaucracy they have to go through," Hamler-Fugitt said. "We have to protect the rights of the individuals who are eligible for SNAP."