SNAP defends quality control practices with funding in limbo

SNAP is under major scrutiny right now as lawmakers discuss all of the funding in the 2023 Farm Bill. The agency, which would currently garner the largest portion of the bill’s funding, is defending its quality control practices and explaining how they protect taxpayer dollars.

Roger McEowen speaks during "Market Day Report's Rural Money" segment

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is working to reassert its commitment to protecting taxpayer money. The program, which would garner the largest portion of the 2023 Farm Bill is under scrutiny as lawmakers in Washington deliberate how this money should be allocated.

"[SNAP] provides nutrition support to millions of American families in need. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works with partner states to ensure that SNAP provides the right amount of benefits to eligible families in the prescribed timeframes,” the agency said in a release on Wednesday.

Those opposed to SNAP getting such a huge cut of the Farm Bill often argue that the work requirements to qualify for the program are too lax, as well as say that alleged fraud takes place within the program.

SNAP said they consistently seek out and correct these errors, which they sare are typically intentional errors rather than misuse or abuse of funds, in a few ways: monthly random audits and yearly state-by-state reviews.

“The goal of identifying errors is to improve the program and to prevent the loss of taxpayer dollars by ensuring that SNAP benefits — in the correct amounts — are going to those who are eligible. By working collaboratively with states, we can ensure that SNAP continues to be a vital lifeline for millions of Americans,” the release says.

Here’s how each SNAP quality control initiative works:

  • “Each month, SNAP state agencies are required to randomly select a certain number of SNAP cases and thoroughly re-check their eligibility and benefit levels. If the state identifies an improper payment, which could be a household receiving more benefits than they were entitled to receive (overpayment) or less benefits than they were entitled to (underpayment). The state then works to make a correction to address the under or overpayment. FNS then reviews a sample of the state-reviewed cases to validate the findings of the state.”
  • “Each year, as required by law, FNS then analyzes the final data collected from the states and uses that information to determine the payment error rate for that state. This final number issued by FNS informs states of how often and why their eligibility and benefit calculations are incorrect. States who have high payment error rates must work with FNS to reduce the number of cases that have mistakes. Those that experience high rates for two years in a row are charged a penalty.”

It will be up to lawmakers to determine if these measures are sufficient or if more regulation on the SNAP program should be implemented in order to secure its funding.

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