House Republicans are considering new rules to determine which Iowans are eligible for government food assistance and medical coverage. Their bill would seek federal waivers to bar pop and candy purchases with SNAP benefits, often called food stamps and require that some Medicaid patients work. The bill also calls for considering the value of some household assets when calculating eligibility.

Tyler Raygor, a lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity, is urging lawmakers to pass the bill. “We think it’s important to remember we’re dealing with finite taxpayer dollars,” Raygor said during a subcommittee hearing Thursday. “When you have folks on these programs who don’t need them, that puts these programs in jeopardy for folks who truly do need them.”

Advocates for low income Iowans say people who are eligible for food and medical assistance could lose their benefits if the bill becomes law. Cyndi Peterson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Food Bank Association, said the new eligibility checks would require a lot of more paperwork and staff work.

“As you will recall, the State of Pennsylvania did an asset test limit for SNAP on a three year pilot,” Petersen said. “After three years, it reversed this decision because it brought a cost of $3.5 million administrative burden to the state.”

Other critics say the new asset rule means low income rural couples who work and have two vehicles would not qualify for government assistance.

Radio Iowa