The Trump Administration is looking into altering how it determines the national poverty level, which may put some Americans at risk of losing access to welfare programs, according to Bloomberg. The move might occur from changing how inflation is calculated in the “official poverty measure” according to a regulatory filing by White House Office of Management and Budget. That formula has been used for decades to try and determine where the poverty line is and what people qualify for social programs and federal benefits.
The measure is calculated at three times the cost of a minimum food diet and adjusted every year as prices rise. It was first set in the 1960s and, in 2018, a family of four making no more than $25,900 was considered under the poverty line. This figure determines eligibility for federal, state and nonprofit programs like Medicaid and food stamps.
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By changing this measure, the poverty level could wind up rising at a slower rate. One proposal has been a shift to “chained CPI”, which regularly shows a slower pace of price gains than the already rigged traditional measures. It shows slower inflation growth because it assumes consumers will substitute less expensive items when prices rise.
The Office of Management and Budget said: “Because of this, changes to the poverty thresholds, including how they are updated for inflation over time, may affect eligibility for programs that use the poverty guidelines.”