All DHHS rules posted on or after January 5, 2023 are available on the DHHS Rulemaking page.
SNAP Rule #223P - Omnibus Rule Change 2022
This rule change proposes to implement many changes required by state statute or federal regulation. It proposes to align Maine policy with various federal waivers and options. It proposes to make non-substantive changes to improve the readability and inclusivity of the manual and reduce the use of stigma inducing language. Consistent with multiple extensions of SNAP Waiver 2055 received from Food and Nutrition Services, the Department proposes to extend the waiver of most interview requirements through December 31, 2022. Should additional extensions be approved prior to the adoption of this rule, the adopted rule will reflect the new date. These changes to Sections 222-4(2)(A), 444-5(2)(B)(4)(a), and 666-9(1)(C)(1) would be retroactive to January 1, 2022. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as the change affords this benefit to more residents of the State of Maine and does not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers. Maine exercises an option for Broad Based Categorical Eligibility under 7 C.F.R. 273.2(j)(2) which has included a 185% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) test. This figure is not included in the figures updated each federal fiscal year per 7 C.F.R. 273.9(a)(4), it is updated as soon as the the FPLs are published. This year's FPLs were published at https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines on January 19. See also, Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, Federal Register 87:14 (January. 21, 2022) p. 3315, https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-01-21/pdf/2022-01166.pdf. The Department proposes to incorporate these figures effective January 12, 2022. Further, the Department proposes to increase this income limit from 185% of the FPL to 200% as permitted under 7 C.F.R. 273.2(i)(2)(ii)(A) and required by 22 M.R.S. 3104(13) effective July 1, 2022. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as these changes afford this benefit to more residents of the State of Maine and do not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers. These changes to Section 444-8(2) and Section 999-3 Chart 4 would make SNAP benefits and the related SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) services available to more Maine households. The Department proposes to implement various budgeting figures as required by 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d). It requires that SNAP income and asset limits, maximum and minimum allotments, standard deductions, maximum shelter deductions, homeless shelter deductions, standard utility allowances (SUAs) and income change reporting thresholds be updated each year, effective October 1. This year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) COLA Memos FY2022 issued August 9 and 16, 2021 provided more generous income limits, maximum and minimum allotments, standard deductions, maximum shelter deduction, homeless shelter deduction, asset limits, and income change reporting thresholds. Each state agency is charged with determining standard utility allowances and having those approved by USDA. The utility allowance values were calculated to increase using The Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor, and were submitted to and approved by USDA. Retroactive rulemaking is permissible under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as these changes afford this benefit to more residents of the State of Maine and do not adversely impact applicants, participants, beneficiaries, or providers. These changes to Section 999-3 would make SNAP benefits and the related SNAP E&T services available to more Maine households and increase the benefit amounts for some. The Department proposes to update the open sections consistent with the recent change of the terms "Food Supplement" and Food Supplement Program to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and, by extension, their associated abbreviations to SNAP or other substitutable terms. This change is consistent with the terminology used in federal law and regulation as well as signage and other materials seen throughout the state and nation. Further, P.L. 2021 c. 398 Part OO made this change throughout Maines revised statutes. This change would be reflected in all uses of the terms and abbreviations in sections included in this rulemaking (unless they refer only to a time prior to the statutory change). The FS would be removed from all section numbers. Similarly, references to coupons would be updated to benefits as coupons are no longer issued. The Department proposes the following changes to improve the readability of the manual and improve the ease of making references and citations within the manual. Where practical, phrases would be converted to active voice. To the extent possible, text would be rephrased to provide an objective set of rules rather than instructions to Department staff. Some text would be moved within a section to consolidate information, reduce redundancies, or improve the flow. Some terms would be eliminated for consistency. (E.g. the term agency would be replaced with Department when referring to Maines Department of Health and Human Services.) Gender specific terms would be converted to gender neutral terms in the interest of inclusivity. The enumeration of paragraphs, subparagraphs and so on, and the representation of numbers would be updated as part of an ongoing, office-wide effort at standardization and clarity. Outdated abbreviations, such as JTPA, would be eliminated or updated. Stigma inducing language would be updated. (E.g. alcohol treatment centers would be changed to centers for the treatment of Substance Use Disorders.) The Department proposes to change all references to recertification form to renewal form consistent with the renaming of this document in print and online. The Department proposes to add consistency to the language related to the submission of applications, renewals, and six-month-reports, and meeting interview requirements. These forms can, now, be submitted on paper, electronically, or telephonically. Further, interviews may be completed in person, by phone, or, in some cases, through Department established video conferencing sites. Language that referenced showing up for an interview or submitting a form in a specific medium would be updated accordingly. The Department proposes to provide more clarity around questionable information (which would require verification) and unclear information (which sometimes triggers the need for an interview). Instances of questionable in the sections being reviewed for this rulemaking would be replaced with language specifying contradictory to information known to or received by the Department. The definition of questionable information would be modified to use contradictory to rather than inconsistent with in the same context. It is necessary to retain the definition as some sections not being reviewed as part of this rulemaking use the term questionable information. A definition of unclear information would be added. The Department proposes to clarify that a parent can be a separate household from their child(ren) for the duration of a court order granting a third-party guardianship of the child(ren). This change would reduce confusion for applicants, participants and Department staff as the current rule does not specify a timeframe. The Department proposes to update language related to job quit penalties to clarify that not all work registration exemptions apply to job quit. Further edits would clarify the minimum job characteristics to remedy a job quit disqualification and remove any language that could be interpreted to apply the disqualification to the entire household. These changes are intended to reduce confusion for applicants, participants and Department staff. The Department proposes to clarify that disqualifications for noncompliance with another means tested program are applied based on the policy in effect at the time of the infraction. Further, language would be added, consistent with 7 C.F.R. 273.11(j), articulating that SNAP benefits may not be increased based on a decrease in other means tested benefits that results from noncompliance. Per 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d)(6)(iii)(E), the Department proposes to use standard utility allowances (SUA) for all households with qualifying expenses. Further, the Department proposes to apply each SUA in full to any household paying a portion of the qualifying expenses. This standardization would reduce confusion for applicants, participants, and Department staff; reduce the burden on many households, including those with self-employment, to provide documentation; and increase benefit amounts for many households. In addition to the other modifications detailed in this document, the Department proposes the following updates to Section 444-2, Self-employment, Migrant Farm Workers, and Contract Employees. Language would be clarified and standardized to largest income source anticipated for the 12 month periods rather than the less specific and insconsistent terms major source of support, supplements, etc. Clarification would be added that verification is not only for income, but for self-employment related assets and expenses as well. The allowable expense for child or adult care meals would be updated consistent with 7 C.F.R. 273.11(b)(3)(i). Clarification would be added that the application of shelter expenses in the case of business use of the home is at the households discretion. The method of determining business use of the home expenses would be clarified. Clarification would be added related to when rental income is treated as earned or unearned income. Although this clarification is redundant to information in Sections 555-2 and 555-3, the Department believes it warrants reiteration.. The formulas for determining business use of the home expenses in rental situations would be made more precise. Each of these changes would add to the clarity of this section and streamline the process for applicants, participants and Department staff. Relatedly, a definition of Roomer would be added to Section 999-1 to distiguish this situation from other rental income. In addition to the other modifications to Section 444-8 detailed in this document, the Department proposes to remove references to the publication of the 130% and 100% Federal Poverty Level figures. These figures are not adopted upon publication in the Federal Register, but are adopted at the start of the Federal Fiscal Year consistent with their adoption by Food and Nutrition Services. In addition to the other modifications to Section 555-4, Excluded Income, detailed in this document, the Department proposes to remove the reference to the SCSEP program being administered by the ABLE network. As ABLE does not, currently, administer this program. In addition to the other modifications detailed in this document, the Department proposes the following updates to Section 555-5, Deductions. A summary, introductory paragraph would be added. A description of the reason for some standard deductions would be added. The exclusion of premiums paid for Office for Family Independence health policies from the excess medical deduction would be eliminated consistent with 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d)(3). The paragraph on Dependent Care Deductions would be significantly reworked to add clarity without making substantive changes. Clarification would be added as to what expenses related to service animals are deductible. When expenses related to a live-in attendant could be applied either as a medical or a dependent care expense, they would be counted as a dependent care expense as that application is to the recipients benefit. Verification requirements for Excess Medical Deductions would be simplified consistent with 7 C.F.R. 273.2(f)(8)(i)(A). Each of these changes would add to the clarity of this section and streamline the process for applicants, participants, and Department staff. The Department proposes to update language around reporting of unissued benefits to comport the timelines with those in 7 C.F.R. 273.17(a)(1). This change would increase the amount of time participants have to notify the Department of issuance problems. Further, Section 777-4, Replacement of Benefits would be simplified as follows: Reference to benefits being destroyed would be removed as that language was specific to physical coupons and does not apply to electronic benefits; and separate processes related to a disaster declaration would be eliminated as the disaster declaration would constitute the verification required in the general process.
Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: December 30, 2022 | Posted: December 1, 2022
MC Rule #288P (Cub Care)
This rule change aligns the MaineCare Eligibility Manual with the adopted State budget for fiscal year 2018. Children of State employees are now eligible to apply for Cub Care, where they were previously excluded from eligibility. There are also grammar and format changes throughout Part 5 to improve clarity in the proposed rule, but not in the emergency rule. The Department is filing this proposed rule at the same time as an emergency rule. This rule was delayed due to the need to submit a state plan amendment to CMS.
Comment deadline past No comment deadline | Posted: March 21, 2018