- SNAP Rule #212A - 2021 Omnibus rule change
- TANF Rule #117A - FFY 2022 COLA, application process updates, and Post TANF services budgeting updates.
- Food Supplement Rule #220A - ABAWD FFY 2022
- Food Supplement Rule #216A - Interview Waivers
- Food Supplement Rule #218A - Updates to Card Replacement and Benefit Use and Expungement
- ASPIRE Rule #28A - TANF Earnings Disregard Extensions
- Food Supplement Rule #FS219A - Temporary Student Policy
- MaineCare Rule #295A - Updates to Parts 9, (Special) Limited Benefit Groups, and 18, Presumptive Eligibility Determined By Hospitals
- FSET Rule #FSET5A - Bachelors Programs Approved
- Food Supplement Rule #FS217A - Increases Pursuant to P.L. 116-260 and P.L. 117-2
|SNAP Rule #212A - 2021 Omnibus rule change||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule change implements many changes required by state statute or federal regulation. It aligns Maine policy with various federal waivers and options. It makes non-substantive changes to improve the readability and inclusivity of the manual, reduce the use of stigma inducing language, and update the names of programs such as WIOA and TANF. It corrects various citations.
The Department is changing the terms "Food Supplement" and Food Supplement Program to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and, by extension, their associated abbreviations to SNAP. 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. Furthermore, P.L. 2021 c. 398 Part OO made this change throughout Maine's revised statutes. This change is reflected in the name of the chapter itself and 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 is removed from all section numbers.
The Department is using person first language wherever feasible and replacing terms intended to convey the same meaning with Substance Use Disorder. These changes are consistent with P.L. 2017 c. 407 Part B, P.L. 2021 c. 348, and generally accepted best practices. There are occasional exceptions to this effort where it was determined best to keep the language consistent with the relevant federal statute.
The Department is converting some phrases to active voice and simplifying the representation of numbers as part of an ongoing, office-wide effort at standardization and clarity.
The Department is adding clarity to Section 111-1 related to standards and process for determining separate household status.
This rule change aligns the chapter with the approved waiver submitted under the requirements of 22 M.R.S. 3104 (17) (as amended by P.L. 2019, c. 492, 1). This waiver allows residents of state or county correctional facilities to submit an application for SNAP up to 30 days prior to release, and for the filing date of the application to be the date of release.
The Department is removing references to an application needing to be dated. This change aligns the chapter with 7 C.F.R. 273.2(c)(1)(iii).
The Department is amending the chapter to eliminate disqualifications based on non-compliance with child support orders. This policy was in place as part of a state option authorized under 7 C.F.R. 273.11(q). The Department is choosing to no longer exercise that option. This change is effective December 1, 2021. 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.
The Department is aligning the disqualification periods for Quality Control noncompliance with those found in 7 C.F.R. 273.2(d)(2).
The Department is clarifying, in Section 222-5, that a reasonable opportunity to resolve discrepancies is 10 days.
The Department is amending the chapter to eliminate the asset limit for all households effective January 1, 2022. This change is required by P.L. 2021 c. 115 and improves access for residents with low income.
The Department is removing language from Section 333-1 excluding the assets of ineligible students, non-citizens, alien sponsors as it is redundant to language in 444-4.
The Department is making a number of changes to the sections on assets. This rule change updates the asset and income lists to reflect new technologies such as non-fungible assets and crypto-currency. It further amends the language related to assets and income excluded by federal statute to reflect the fact that new statutes may be passed excluding certain resources not on the existing list. These resources are often of a temporary nature, such as those created through various legislation associated with COVID-19. To add and remove them from the chapter each time there is a federal law change would be an unnecessary administrative burden and duplicative of action already taken by Congress. Additionally, the acceptable verifications of a good faith effort to sell real property are updated to conform with 7 C.F.R. 273.8(e)(8).
The Department is aligning the look back period for certain felonies with the one required by 7 C.F.R. 273.11(s)(3).
The Department is limiting comparable disqualifications related to disqualifications from other means tested programs to instances where the individual has been found by a court or administrative hearing to have committed an intentional program violation (IPV) or has signed an IPV waiver. Maine is one of only 13 U.S. states or territories to apply comparable sanctions for non-compliance with other programs requirements. This change aligns Maine with the majority of other SNAP agencies. This policy was in place as part of a state option authorized under 7 C.F.R. 273.11(k). Under that same authority, the Department is choosing to less fully exercise that option.
The Department is amending the work requirement for post-secondary students to allow for weekly hours to be averaged over the month. This change aligns this requirement with other work requirements in the chapter while remaining consistent with 7 C.F.R. 273.5(b)(5).
A more detailed description of the Resource Guide for Families is added to Section 444-5.
The Department is updating Section 555-6 to more clearly and accurately describe the budgeting process. Accordingly, the budgeting worksheet in Section 555-7 that is redundant to the budgeting process outlined in 555-6 without adding clarity is eliminated.
The Department is clarifying that, if there is an interruption in or delay of benefits as a result of household action or inaction, benefits for the month the situation is resolved will be prorated to the date of compliance. This change is required as part of Maines reinstatement waiver approved August 16, 2021 and guidance provided in Food and Nutrition Services memo index number 88-04.
The Department is cleaning up language in Section 666-6 that was applicable prior to the statewide conversion to simplified reporting. This language is no longer relevant and could reduce the clarity of the current requirements.
The Department is clarifying the reporting requirement related to household income exceeding 130% of the federal poverty level. This change is necessary to align the chapter with the requirements at 7 C.F.R. 273.12(a)(5)(v).
The Department is clarifying the verification requirements at annual eligibility review. This change is necessary to align the chapter with the requirements at 7 C.F.R. 273.2(f)(8). They improve access for households and reduce the administrative burden for the Department.
The Department is delaying the changes to the expungement deadline adopted as part of Food Supplement Rule Making #218A from September 1, 2021 to September 1, 2022. This change is necessary to comply with changes to 7 C.F.R. Part 274 detailed in the Federal Register Vol. 86 No. 143. These changes at the state and federal level are necessary as the national EBT vendor could not make the technology changes necessary to implement the change prior to the original deadline while, at the same time, making the changes necessary to support the various COVID-19 related initiatives.
The Department is adding a definition of public institution to add clarity to the application process in certain circumstances.
The Department is implementing 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 Memo FY2021 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. These updates were made in Food Supplement Emergency Rulemaking #222E. This rulemaking continues these changes beyond December 30, 2021.
As proposed, Section 444-8(6) of this rulemaking would have eliminated the $0 benefit starting March 1, 2022 and implemented over a 12-month period. Upon further review, the Department recognizes that these households benefit from SNAP Employment and Training supports. Therefore, the $0 benefit will be retained.
A typographical error in the proposed rulemaking would have the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2021 and 2022 figures in Chart 8 overlap. This error has been corrected by updating the end date of the FFY 2021 figures to September 30, 2021.
Effective Date: December 30, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: December 23, 2021|
|TANF Rule #117A - FFY 2022 COLA, application process updates, and Post TANF services budgeting updates.||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule is promulgated to comply with Maine statute 22 M.R.S. 3769-C(1)(D), which requires the Department to increase the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) maximum benefit on an annual basis by the amount of the cost of living allowance as determined by the Social Security Administration. The statute also requires the Department to make a related increase to the standard of need, provided the funds are available.
The Department is updating the introductory text to simplify language, pertaining to the receipt of assistance that is counted toward the 60-month lifetime limit.
Additionally, the TANF and MaineCare application processes are being disentangled. The TANF manual specified that all applications for TANF benefits were to be treated as an application for MaineCare. 22 M.R.S. 3790(3-A) as amended by H.P. 1261 - L.D. 1774 6 newly requires the Department of Health and Human Services to accept referrals from an educational institution or program that is part of the University of Maine System; the Maine Community College System; Jobs for Maine's Graduates; an adult education program; or the career centers as an application for the Parents as Scholars Program with limited conditions. This newly required process conflicted with Maines Medicaid State Plan. As such, the Department removed reference to treating the Public Assistance application as a MaineCare application from this chapter.
The previous requirement for Applicants and Participants to appear in-person for interviews and orientation meetings created an unnecessary burden for them, and an administrative burden for the Department and the Departments contractors. While these in-person meetings may expedite the application process for those able to visit an office in-person, the requirement for most slowed or reduced access. Furthermore, at times of community transmission of illnesses or diseases such as Corona virus or Influenza, or hazardous traveling conditions due to weather, these in-person requirements can pose a risk to the health of Applicants, Participants and staff. These in-person interactions have not been proven to increase program integrity. As such, these requirements were recently reduced in rules TANFC19E, and TANF114A. Recognizing the benefits of these adjustments, and not having experienced a demonstrable detriment, the Department removed all remaining in-person requirements from the manual.
To strengthen program integrity and reduce confusion, the Department is adding language to Chapter V(A) clarifying those children who are eligible for Transitional Child Care (TCC), and the reporting requirements for child care providers receiving TCC payments. The Department is clarifying language regarding TCC overpayment responsibility and recovery procedures as well. As the result of comments received additional terminology has been updated for clarity. A small business impact statement regarding this change can be obtained by contacting the agency person listed below.
Furthermore, the mileage reimbursement rate for Transitional Transportation Participants is updated to align with the MSEA rate at https://www.maine.gov/osc/travel/mileage-other-info and the rate used by other OFI supports such as the Additional Support for People in Retraining and Employment (ASPIRE), Food Supplement Employment and Training (FSET), and Higher Opportunity for Pathways to Employment (HOPE) programs.
Similarly, in compliance with 22 M.R.S. 3762(8)(C), the Chart of Parent Fees and Subsidy Payments is updated based on Federal Poverty Level (FPL) figures published in the Annual Update of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines, 86 Fed. Reg. 7,732 (February 1, 2021) https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/01/2021-01969/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines. The Department is adopting this provision with a retroactive application to February 1, 2021. Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
A clarification of good cause as it pertains to cooperation with child support requirements is being added to Chapter I(D)(2)(iii).
The Department is updating the text describing the legal foundation for the Alternative Aid program to reflect the current authority and requirement to administer said program.
The Department is updating and adding various cross references for clarity.
The Department is updating the Table of Contents as a result of all proposed changes.
Finally, various changes are being made to formatting, punctuation, and word choice, that do not alter the meaning of the text, but enhance readability and inclusivity.
Effective Date: October 1, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: September 30, 2021|
|Food Supplement Rule #220A - ABAWD FFY 2022||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: 7 CFR 273.24 provides that no individual shall be eligible to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as a member of any household if the individual received program benefits for more than 3 months during any 3-year period in which the individual was subject to but did not comply with the ABAWD work requirement.
7 C.F.R. 273.24(f) provides that, upon the request of the State agency, the Secretary may waive the applicability of the 3-month ABAWD time limit for any group of individuals in the State if the Secretary makes a determination that the geographic area in which the individuals reside has an unemployment rate of over 10 percent, or does not have a sufficient number of jobs to provide employment for the individuals.
This rule making implements ABAWD geographic state-wide waiver 2190025 approved April 28, 2021 pursuant to 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f)(2) and Section 6(o) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. This waiver excludes all Maine residents from ABAWD requirements, for the period October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. Reference to past exemptions under expired authority is removed.
The Department pursued and Food and Nutrition Services approved the waiver based on the Department of Labor Trigger Notice No. 2020-38, effective October 4, 2020, showing that, state-wide, Maine qualified for extended unemployment benefits.
This rule change enhances nutritional stability and consistency for thousands of Maine households at a time of financial and health uncertainty.
Effective Date: October 1, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: August 11, 2021|
|Food Supplement Rule #216A - Interview Waivers||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule change aligns Maine's policy with practice approved under P.L. 116-159 and the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) waiver serial number 2190019 approved on October 21, 2020.
P.L. 116-159 4603(a)(1)(A)(iii) allows states to adjust interview requirements consistent with the adjustments provided in the Food and Nutrition Services March 26, 2020, blanket approval for adjusting interview requirements. Consistent with FNS guidance at the time, on March 27, 2020 the State of Maine notified the Secretary of Agriculture of its determination to exercise the option to not require a household to complete an interview prior to application approval or recertification through June 30, 2021, provided the applicants identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications in 7 C.F.R. 273.2(f)(1) have been completed. On April 30, 2021, FNS released a memo extending this option. Subsequently, the State of Maine notified FNS of its determination to adopt that extended time frame. This option was approved on May 26, 2021, and extended the interview waiver to the earlier of December 31, 2021, or the end of the month after the month in which the public health emergency (PHE) declaration related to COVID-19 is lifted by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Waiver 2190019 allows the Department to recertify households with no earned income, in which all adult members are elderly or disabled without conducting an interview. This process has been determined effective and efficient by both Maines Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the federal Food and Nutrition Services. The current waiver is set to expire May 31, 2022. At this time the Department plans to seek an extension.
References to "appearing for" or attending an interview are changed to complete to reflect the fact that when interviews are conducted, they may not be in person. This change is consistent with Maines approved state plan and current practice.
This rule change reduces the administrative burden on Department staff and increases access to Food Supplement benefits for some of Maines most vulnerable residents. It improves food security for these individuals and decreases the likelihood that these particularly vulnerable residents would come into a DHHS office during a public health crisis.
The Department is adopting this rule with a retroactive application to December 1, 2020. Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
The following additional changes are being made to modernize the manual and enhance readability.
1) References to recertification and redetermination are clarified to either recertification form when referring to the document, or eligibility review when referring to the overall process.
2) Minor corrections are made to typographical errors.
3) Numbering and lettering of Subsections, Paragraphs, etc. is added or standardized as part of an ongoing effort to standardize them not only within this manual but across OFI manuals and facilitate easier citations and cross references.
4) Several terms that had been used interchangeably are consolidated to consistent terms with preference given to terms that are defined within the manual. E.g. client and participant have been stricken and replaced with one or more of the following terms- household when referring to a group defined as such in FS 111-1, applicant when referring to an individual defined as such in FS 999-1 as amended by this rulemaking, recipient when referring to an individual collecting a benefit, or resident when referring to someone who lives in a particular facility. The use of each of these terms has also been reviewed to ensure the correct meaning is conveyed in each instance. Likewise, the term individual has been replaced with one of the defined terms when a more precise term is appropriate.
5) FS 222-4 is updated to eliminate the option for Department staff to require a face to face interview for Food Supplement applications and annual eligibility reviews.
6) Whole numbers through ten are represented only by writing out the word. All other figures are represented, only, in numerical form. This change is part of an Office wide standardization effort to improve the flow of the manual by not representing each figure twice.
7) In FS 222-4(3), language is added specifying that the Department shall notify the household of its rights and responsibilities annually even if no interview is conducted.
8) In FS 222-4(4), references to issue resolutions are changed to clarifying questionable information. This change shifts the language to a term defined within the manual and provides greater clarity.
9) Wording changes are made throughout to active voice when possible to aid in readability and to phrase the manual as objective standards, not an instruction manual for OFI workers.
10) In FS 444-2 references to drug addiction or alcoholic rehabilitation are updated to Substance Use Disorder treatment.
11) In FS 444-2, a redundant reference to a work requirement exception was removed as it is addressed in FS 111-5.
12) Language is added to update the names of Departments and Agencies referenced.
13) Gender specific pronouns are replaced with gender neutral ones as part of an Office wide effort toward inclusivity.
14) A requirement that the household provide necessary verifications is added to Section FS 666-9(1) for clarity.
15) Clarification is added throughout Section FS 666-9 that the Department may make a determination that the household is ineligible or still eligible, and, for what benefit level, rather than implying that following the process will always result in continued eligibility.
16) Redundant language is removed where possible to enhance the readability of the manual.
17) Several terms in Section FS 999-1 are removed or reworded based on how or if they are used elsewhere in the manual.
a) Alcohol & Drug Centers is changed to Centers for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders. The definition is modernized. Other terms that refer to these centers, in portions of the chapter that have not been updated as of this rulemaking are added and reference this definition.
b) Case Name is removed.
c) In the definition of Mass Changes the outdated reference to AFDC is updated to TANF.
d) Mixed Funded Household is removed.
e) Prospective Budgeting is removed.
f) Shelter for Battered Persons is added as an alternative to Shelter for Battered Women and Children. Battered Persons is the preferred term, is consistent with federal regulations, and is gender neutral. However, not all instances have been updated in the manual through this rule change.
g) The definitions for both Shelter for Battered Persons and Shelter for the Homeless are modernized.
h) The definition of Six-Month Report is updated to reflect some of the terminology changes above and to allow for one during the certification period following the initial application.
i) Timely Notice is removed. (Advance Notice is used consistently throughout the manual.)
18) The definition of Applicant is updated to clarify that it is the individual for whom benefits are requested, regardless of whether any benefits are actually issued.
19) A definition of Assistance Group is added.
20) The definition of Documentation is modified in two ways. First, to reflect not only documentation made by Department staff in the case record, but documentary verifications provided by individuals, as both uses of the term permeate other sections of the manual. Secondly, to expand documentation to not only include written documents, but electronic media such as audio recordings, digital photographs, and the like that are commonly provided as verification.
Effective Date: August 15, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: August 11, 2021|
|Food Supplement Rule #218A - Updates to Card Replacement and Benefit Use and Expungement||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule change has three components: expungement, purchasing options and card replacement. None of these changes increase the administrative burden on the Department, or participants. The changes to purchasing and replacement will, in fact, reduce the burden.
A rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with 7 U.S.C. Ch. 51 2016(h)(12)(C) as amended by P.L. 115-334 4006 and subsequent amendments to 7 C.F.R. 274.2(i). Each has reduced the threshold for expungement of unused benefits to nine months after issuance or immediately (without notice) if the Department has verified that all household members are deceased. Expungement of benefits for households in which all members are deceased will be implemented upon adoption of this rule. Expungement of benefits for households that must be given notice will be implemented as soon as possible allowing for noticing requirements. The basic process of noticing and expungement continues. The notice will now be sent after 240 days rather than 90, and the expungement will take place after 274 days instead of 365. Expungement will take place more rapidly when the Department has verified that all household members are deceased and the benefits will be rendered inaccessible immediately upon verification.
Additionally, purchasing power is extended to online purchases including delivery or curbside pick-up when a physical point of sale "swipe" of the card is not the best option. The Department is modifying this section to reflect the ability of participants to use EBT accounts to purchase approved foods, seeds, and seedlings from online platforms. This contactless purchasing expands access and supports the overall safety and well-being of Food Supplement recipients especially at times when travel may be challenging or impossible, or there is a heightened risk of illness such as a national public health emergency. Initially, Maine will be participating as a demonstration project under 7 U.S.C. 2016(k)(4) with the intent of full participation under paragraph 1 of the same.
Changes are also being made to card replacement. The process of requesting replacement cards will be unchanged other than participants will be able to secure their third and fourth replacement cards with the same ease as the first and second in a 12-month period. Previously, three replacement cards in a 12-month period were determined excessive. The Department is increasing that threshold to five cards in a 12-month period consistent with 7 C.F.R. 274.6(b)(5). This increase improves access to benefits for individuals and reduces the administrative burden on the Department and its vendor. This change is being made retroactively to April 23, 2020 to coincide with the expiration of Food and Nutrition Service's Waiver number 2180009. Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
No fees will be charged for any replacement cards. This rule change removes any reference to collecting a fee for card replacement consistent with current practice. The cost of implementing a fee collection procedure is anticipated to exceed any savings that would result from such collections. Additionally, references to contacting a local office are being generalized to contacting the Office for Family Independence (OFI). This change reflects the statewide processing and accessibility of OFI staff and removes a geographic burden for those requesting replacement cards.
Finally, the following stylistic and grammatical changes are being made to modernize the manual and enhance readability.
1) Minor corrections are being made to typographical errors.
2) Numbering and lettering of subsections, paragraphs, etc. is being added or standardized as part of an ongoing effort to standardize them not only within this manual but across OFI manuals and facilitate easier citations and cross references.
3) Several terms that had been used interchangeably are being consolidated to consistent terms with preference given to terms that are defined within the manual.
4) Whole numbers through ten are represented only by writing out the word. All other figures are represented, only, in numerical form. This change is part of an Office wide standardization effort to improve the flow of the manual by not representing each figure twice.
5) Some sentences are being modified to spell out responsibilities and responsible parties instead of reading like an instruction manual for Department staff.
6) Gender specific pronouns are being replaced with gender neutral ones as part of an Office wide effort toward inclusivity.
7) Redundant language is removed where possible to enhance the readability of the manual.
Effective Date: August 2, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: July 28, 2021|
|ASPIRE Rule #28A - TANF Earnings Disregard Extensions||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule change aligns ASPIRE Program rules with changes to the Maine Public Assistance Manual that require the Department to consider receipt of the TANF earnings "Step" disregard as a condition for extended eligibility when a family has received TANF past the federal and state lifetime limit of 60 months. Step budgeting detailed in the Maine Public Assistance Manual, 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 331, Chapter IV, Step Disregard, requires a disregard of most or all of an individual's earned income for a period of months. This extension is required in 22 M.R.S. 3762(18) and 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 331 Chapter I(J)(3)(g)(i). This extension shall be applied only if the individual both received the Step disregard and reached the 60-month limit on or after October 1, 2019. Therefore, it will not be applied to recipients who reached the limit prior to that date but may be applied to current or future recipients if they qualify for the Step disregard.
Additionally, changes were made to the Index to bring it in line with recent changes to the sections and pages that refer to each topic.
Effective Date: June 1, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: June 2, 2021|
|Food Supplement Rule #FS219A - Temporary Student Policy||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule implements expanded eligibility for post-secondary students from January 16, 2021 through any certification period begun during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) or within 30 days of the date the COVID-19 PHE is terminated. This temporary expansion of eligibility for students changes the previous restriction on student eligibility for Food Supplement Program benefits. 7 U.S.C. 2015(e) and 7 C.F.R. 273.5. As a result, Food Supplement benefits will be available to more individuals.
A rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) Division N, Title VII Nutrition and Agriculture Relief, Subtitle A Nutrition, Section 702(e) which requires that students who are enrolled at least half-time in an institution of higher education and are eligible for work study or with an expected family contribution of $0 are not per se ineligible for Food Supplement Program benefits based on their student status. This expansion of eligibility is effective for any certification period in effect between January 16, 2021 and until 30 days after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) ends.
This rulemaking is distinct from 217A which was effective May 1 2021, though both arise from the same Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
The Department implemented these changes on an emergency basis on February 18, 2021 effective January 16, 2020, in Rulemaking No. FS219E. Because the emergency rule is effective for only 90 days, this rulemaking is necessary to make the changes permanent.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act was enacted on December 27, 2020, requiring expanded student eligibility be implemented no later than January 16, 2021. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) provided the final guidance in a February 2, 2021 memo. Accordingly, the Department is adopting this rule change to apply retroactively, effective January 16, 2021, to Food Supplement eligibility. Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
Additionally, the Department regularly reviews rules for readability, consistency, and contemporaniousness. To these ends, the following changes are being made:
1) Formatting and enumeration are updated for ease of reference and consistency with other sections of this manual, and other Office for Family Independence manuals;
2) The list of exemptions to student ineligibility is reorganized to list them from the easiest to verify and apply to the most cumbersome;
3) Incorrect citations are corrected;
4) Redundant conjunctions are removed;
5) Names of programs are updated or added as needed;
6) Gender specific pronouns are replaced with gender neutral ones;
7) The Subsection on treatment of income is dramatically reworded to read more like a list of requirements and less like an instruction manual for Department staff, and is updated to minimize redundancies; and
8) A detailed example that has caused some confusion about income and expense averaging strategies is removed, and the process for that averaging is consolidated to its own paragraph for emphasis.
Effective Date: May 19, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: May 19, 2021|
|MaineCare Rule #295A - Updates to Parts 9, (Special) Limited Benefit Groups, and 18, Presumptive Eligibility Determined By Hospitals||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: The Department is making various substantive and technical changes in Part 9, as well as in Part 18 of the MaineCare Eligibility Manual, 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 332. The primary substantive changes are regarding the presumptive eligibility determination process. The rule implements the legislature's requirement that presumptive eligibility determinations be permitted for the limited family planning benefit group. It also reduces the penalties associated with performance standards and clarifies requirements for hospital presumptive eligibility determinations. Additionally, the Department regularly reviews policies to ensure clarity and conformity with state and federal Medicaid requirements. The Department is adding clarification to other sections of Parts 9 and 18 of this Manual to clarify eligibility criteria and processes. None of these clarifications make substantive changes to existing eligibility criteria or processes in a way that diminishes beneficiaries rights. Indeed, it could be that more beneficiaries are determined eligible for MaineCare services as a result of the new presumptive eligibility process for the limited family planning benefit group (Part 9, Sec. 4).
Within Part 9, Section 1, the Department is making the following changes. References to "HIV/AIDS Waiver" is changed to Benefit for People living with HIV/AIDS to align this manual section with the MaineCare Benefits Manual, 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 101, Chapter X. Language is added to specify that this benefit is also referred to as the Special Benefit Waiver or SBW. This term is the one used in mailings to applicants and participants and is the name by which they know the program. For clarity, and to lend consistency throughout this Part, the information in the first paragraph is reorganized to first provide a description of the program and discuss eligibility later. Changes also include specifying which type of coverage was being referenced at each step, specifying that action was being taken on benefits not the individual, and removing unnecessary words. For emphasis, the exception allowing an individual to have SBW and DEL so long as DEL is supplementing Part D is moved to its own sentence. The Department is making changes in Subsection 1(A) specifying that this requirement only applies to individuals who qualify for SSI-Related MaineCare based on disability (not age), and reorganizing the paragraph to start with the requirement and then move into ways the requirement can be met. The Assets Subsection is moved before the Income Subsection for consistency with other Parts of the manual and the flow of the eligibility determination process. Language is added to Subsection 1(C) specifying that SSI-Related budgeting procedures (in Part 7) apply. To improve specificity, the due date of premiums is added to the first paragraph of Subsection 2. Subsection 2(A)(1) is amended to clarify that multiple month payments should be made in advance of the due date. In the Example in Subsection 2(A)(1), the figures are updated to current premium amounts. Subsection 2(A)(2) is amended to clarify that notice will be sent to the individual, allowing for e-noticing or mail as opposed to handing it to them. The last paragraph of Subsection 2(A)(3) is amended to clarify that the date in question is the last day of the grace period. Subsection 2(B)(2)(b) is amended to allow for a person other than a relative to be responsible for an individuals premium payments. Subsection 3(A) is amended to clarify that continuous coverage shall only be granted pending a hearing decision if the request for hearing is received during the Adverse Action Notice Period.
In Part 9, Section 2, the Department is making the following change to clarify that there are, in fact, two distinct Breast and Cervical Cancer programs. A sentence is added to the end of the first paragraph referencing the program available under 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 708.
In Part 9, Section 4, the Department is adding language to comply with 22 M.R.S. 3173-G. Specifically, the rule sets forth the conditions for a provider to make a presumptive eligibility determination for the limited family planning coverage group, the process for making such a determination, the duration of the presumptive decision, and the process for securing ongoing eligibility. On September 22, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a State Plan Amendment (SPA) authorizing these changes in the MaineCare program, effective October 1, 2020. Pursuant to 22 M.R.S. 42(8), these changes shall be applied retroactive to October 1, 2020. The changes benefit both providers and MaineCare beneficiaries.
Other changes are part of a standardization of practice across all OFI rules. Enumeration and lettering of subsections, paragraphs, etc. is updated as part of a general effort to make these systems consistent throughout OFI rules and as necessary to accommodate the addition and deletion of material. Cross references are updated where information had been moved as part of a prior rule making. Changes include use of gender inclusive pronouns. Other grammatical and typographical errors are corrected. Redundant terms are removed. References to MaineCare coverage that does not limit its coverage to a specific system or condition are consistently changed to full MaineCare. This term is familiar to applicants and participants as it is used in mailings to them. The Department finds that this term is less cumbersome and confusing than alternatives such as Categorically Needy or Medically Needy coverage and more accurate than some instances where one type of coverage was referenced and the other, inadvertently, left out.
Furthermore, this rulemaking makes changes in Part 18 of the Manual regarding requirements for hospitals to utilize Hospital Presumptive Eligibility, per Maines SPA that was approved by CMS on October 28, 2020. The changes clarify the Hospital Presumptive Eligibility process and impose an 80% performance standard and a process for enforcing same.
As a result of comments, Part 9, 1(1)(A) is further amended to allow eligibility for the Special Benefits Waiver coverage group for individuals complying with any treatment regimen determined by their licensed healthcare professional.
Effective Date: May 10, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: May 5, 2021|
|FSET Rule #FSET5A - Bachelors Programs Approved||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently renewed its formal partnership with the Maine Department of Labor's Competitive Skills Scholarship Program (CSSP) to include the CSSP program in its array of FSET services. Effective October 1, 2020, this rulemaking expands Maines FSET post-secondary educational opportunities for FSET participants to include some 4-year degree programs that lead to high wage, in demand occupations, as defined by the Maine Department of Labor at 12-597, Chapter 2, Rule Governing the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program. The inclusion of these programs is consistent with the state plan amendment submitted to Food and Nutrition Services on October 23, 2020 and approved on November 13, 2020.
Additionally, this rule change allows co-enrolled FSET and CSSP participants to most efficiently participate in educational programming. The rulemaking also clarifies that participants may be co-enrolled with more than one FSET provider only when the providers are delivering different components of services, as defined in the rule. As a result of comments, this rule change further clarifies that in the case of more than one provider offering the same component of service, the participant may select the provider of their choice.
In partnering with the CSSP program, Maine DHHS staff will utilize the expertise of the Maine Department of Labor to identify which occupations are high wage, in demand occupations, and support the degrees needed accordingly through its FSET program.
Finally, effective March 8, 2021, this rulemaking strikes language disallowing reimbursement for on the job training or work experience. This change aligns Maines policy with new federal rules adding subsidized employment as an allowable component.
Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
This amendment is expected to be annually cost neutral, as the same number of participants will be served, and providers will be held to the established budgets and caps for services and participant reimbursements in their contracts or Memorandum of Understanding as previously approved.
Effective Date: May 1, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: April 28, 2021|
|Food Supplement Rule #FS217A - Increases Pursuant to P.L. 116-260 and P.L. 117-2||Rule - Track Changes (Word)||Rule - Clean (Word)|
Concise Summary: This rule change implements increases to the maximum and minimum allotments from January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. As a result, Food Supplement benefits would increase for some households. Furthermore, it increases eligibility thresholds. As a result, more households are eligible for Food Supplement benefits.
A rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with Division N, Title VII(A), Ch. 1 702(a) of The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) amended by The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2) which requires that Food Supplement Program maximum and minimum allotments be increased by 15 percent for the period of January 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) provided the exact figures and guidance in a December 28, 2020 memo.
The Department implemented these changes on an emergency basis on February 1, 2021 effective January 1, 2021, in Rulemaking No. FS217E. Because the emergency rule is effective for only 90 days, this rulemaking is necessary to make the changes permanent and extend them through September 30, 2021.
This adopted rule change differs from the emergency and proposed versions in that the time frame for the 15 percent increase is extended through September 30, 2021. This extension is necessary to comply with Title I(B) 1101(a) of The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (P.L. 117-2) which passed during the comment period.
Additionally, a rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with Federal regulation 7 C.F.R. 273.9(a)(3), which requires that Food Supplement Program income limits be updated each year, effective October 1. Non-compliance could result in federal penalties or loss of federal funds.
Maine exercises an option for Broad Based Categorical Eligibility under 7 C.F.R. 273.2(j)(2) which includes a 185% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) test. Since 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 FPLs are published. This year, they were published at https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines on January 13. See also, Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines, 86 Fed. Reg. 7,732 (February 1, 2021) https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/01/2021-01969/annual-update-of-the-hhs-poverty-guidelines. The Department is making this change retroactive to January 13, 2021. Retroactive rulemaking is authorized by the Legislature in accordance with 22 M.R.S. 42(8) because this rule provides a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and does not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients.
Finally, the rule change removes end dates from the last set of figures of each chart to alleviate unnecessary future rule making should the figures remain the same. Some charts are, also, condensed to more clearly show where figures have been retained for an extended period of time.
Effective Date: May 1, 2021
|View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)||Posted: April 21, 2021|