cuts

Poverty stings: What’s left in grandma’s wallet after program cuts

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Alas, it’s a lousy time to be a senior in Missouri.  Besides the Circuit Breaker, other special help for our older neighbors is under attack in Jefferson City and Washington.

Let’s look at Grandma Jane, a hypothetical but friendly women in her 70’s living with a bunch of health problems. She has a modest but cute apartment in an area suburb.  She worked a bit after raising her kids but her Social Security payment, like many widows, is based on the survivor formula on her late husband’s account. She gets $900 a month, $10,800 per year. That’s a bit above average for surviving spouses , yet, not enough for her to sit pretty. That’s not a surprise since the Poverty Level for a single person is $12,060 a year or $1,005 a month.

Fortunately, she qualifies for several programs…

$ 500 Missouri Circuit Breaker  a tax credit to lower-income seniors to help offset property taxes

$ 1,200 Missouri Rx Program   help paying for her many prescriptions beyond Medicare’s coverage

$ 1,716 Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)  Medicaid payment towards her share of Medicare

$ 2,160  Food Stamps   $180 per month, or, around $1.94 per meal

$250  Heating Assistance Grant  a state pass-through of a federal allocation to Missouri

Wow!  Grandma Jane gets $ 5,826 in special help each year!  This targeted aid gives her a standard of living of about $16,600. Not golden toilet living like Donald Trump, but a lot better than Social Security alone.

Uh-oh!

Remember, in 2017 the Circuit Breaker for renters got SEALed [by Missouri Governor and former Navy Seal Eric Greitens]. The legislature also cut back on the Missouri Rx program, meaning that $100 a month will become $50 or $0. Proposed federal cuts to Medicaid (MO HealthNet) will target that QMB.

And, the Trump administration and friends plan to trim food stamps by 25%, and, give states a 10% to 25% co-pay…Maybe Grandma Jane will get $20 or $50 a month when the dust clears.

That heating grant?  Trump has targeted the Low-Income Heat Assistance Program (LiHEAP) for complete elimination.

In other words, a series of trims and cuts which don’t sound that big each on their own wind up taking $3,000 a year or more out of Grandma Jane’s standard of living. Poverty’s sting grows sharper.

Of course, we’re told these inefficient and wasteful programs must be slashed.  Missouri and America must “pay for” tax cuts for wealthy ‘job creators.’

Sorry grandma.

Glenn Koenen (7 Posts)

Glenn Koenen is the retired executive director of Circle Of Concern and Hunger Task Force Chair for the Missouri Association for Social Welfare. In 2012 he was the Democratic candidate for Congress in Missouri’s Second District.