Senate budget removes a requirement for Ohio food stamp recipients, but adds a new one
The budget that passed the Republican-dominated Senate along party lines includes a change for people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, to purchase food.
Republicans included a provision that they’ve tried to enact for years that they say reduces fraud, but opponents say it’s costly and doesn’t pay off.
The Senate budget requires the SNAP electronic benefit card to have a photo and a phone number of an adult in the household getting the benefit. Republicans have proposed this idea several times as a way to beat back fraud and ensure only eligible recipients get food assistance.
Tara Britton with the Center for Community Solutions said SNAP already has anti-fraud measures in place and this photo provision goes against the program’s rules.
“The federal laws around SNAP say that everyone in the household has to have access to use that card. And so if one person's photo is on it and someone else in the family is trying to use it, that creates a challenge in the actual physical use of the card at the grocery store," Britton said in an interview for The State of Ohio.
"Cashiers are not allowed to cross-check IDs,” she said. “Federal guidance also says that you can request help or assistance in shopping for food. And so that obviously also creates a problem if someone's picture on the card and the person using it is different."
Critics of photos on SNAP benefit cards have said studies have shown the programs cost more for states to implement than the cost of the fraud they prevent. And they note the most common kind of food stamp fraud involves retailer transactions, which wouldn't be solved by photos on benefit cards.
Senators did take out a provision that would require work or training programs for people age 16-59 getting SNAP benefits, but that requirement stays for people 18-49. Critics said that would have been the most extreme provision of its kind in the country.
The Center for Community Solutions estimated it could take SNAP benefits away from 385,000 Ohioans, including 170,000 children.