Current Issues

Keeping food on the table in low-income homes depends more than ever on federal assistance such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), rental assistance vouchers, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  We have a chance to comment on three new proposed rules that will govern how these programs are delivered.  Two are federal —  a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) restriction on who can be helped with housing, and an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposal to change the formula for setting the poverty line.  The third is an Idaho request to the federal government to waive one of the normal requirements in the state’s Medicaid expansion plan. 

IIRAH conveners will comment on behalf of the organization; your individual comment will significantly increase the impact.

I.  HUD proposed rule against immigrants    Deadline:  July 9, 2019

What it is: A rule change “to require the verification of the eligible immigration status of all recipients of assistance under a covered program who are under the age of 62.”

What’s at stake: The existing rule prorates assistance to families with mixed immigration status.  For example, a family of four American citizen children with an undocumented parent gets 80% of the housing help for which they qualify; the new rule would render the entire household ineligible.  HUD  estimates that 55,000 American children live in homes that would lose assistance by this rule change.

The justice issues:

  • Either families will be broken up, or eligible Americans will lose benefits;
  • The rule seems to target immigrants, even though there is animmigration court backlog of over one million pending cases, amounting to over 5 years of processing delay.

How to comment:  Go to   The Comment button is at the right side of the page.

II.  Redefining poverty            Deadline June 21, 2019

What it is:  The White House Office of Management and Budget is proposing to change the federal method of calculating inflation.

What’s at stake:  Eligibility for most safety net programs is determined by an individual’s income in relation to the poverty level, and the poverty level is adjusted annually for inflation. Some methods of calculating inflation come in lower than others.

The justice issue: Since  lowering the poverty line excludes more people from eligibility for assistance, it appears to be a strategy to lower the federal deficit at the expense of low income Americans and seniors.

How to comment:

III.  Idaho request for Medicaid Waiver 1332            Deadline June 29, 2019

What it is:  the Idaho Department of Insurance (DOI) wants some applicants to buy health insurance on the Idaho Exchange rather than enroll in Medicaid.

What’s at stake:  Public comment will become part of the record that DOI submits with the waiver request.

The justice issue:  This could turn into a form of privatization that will strand many deserving people in a complex insurance world.  At a minimum the waiver must enable participant choice, not allow the state or others to shunt participants arbitrarily to one program of the other.  People in the Medicaid Gap may appreciate having the choice, so long as they receive good advice on the differences in benefits, out-of-pocket costs for policies offered on the Exchange, length of time their choice is locked in, etc.  More information is available from Close the Gap Idaho:

How to Comment:
Write to         Product Review Bureau Chief
Department of Insurance
PO Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0043


We urge you to comment on one or more of these critical issues!  Share this information with others who care but are not on our mailing list.

Position Papers

Letters and Testimony Before the Idaho Legislature

IIRAH’s Spring & Fall Events

Program:  The Rent Eats First (spring 2019)

Program: What Shall We Do About ALICE? (spring 2017)

Program: Exploring Justice in the Food System (spring 2016)

Program: Food Deserts in Idaho (2015)

Newsletter Archive

IIRAH actively communicates with the public during the Idaho legislative session to increase awareness of key issues as they arise. Please visit our email archives for a recap of our advocacy efforts, and subscribe to our mailing list for future updates.