Adopted Rulemaking

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
 
Food Supplement Rule #FS215A - FFY 2021 Budgeting Figures Rule - Track Changes (Word)  Rule - Clean (Word 
Concise Summary: A rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with Federal regulation 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d). 7 C.F.R. 273.9 requires that Food Supplement Program 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 allotments, standard deductions (for most households), maximum shelter deduction, and homeless shelter deduction. The same memo showed no change in minimum allotments, the standard deductions for households of one to three members, asset limits or 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 remain the same 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. Non-compliance could result in federal penalties or loss of federal funds. The Department implemented these changes on an emergency basis on October 1, 2020, most of which were effective October 1, 2020, in Rule No. FS215E. Changes that applied to 185% FPL were effective retroactive to January 14, 2020. Because the emergency rule is effective for only 90 days, this rulemaking is necessary to make the changes permanent. Retroactive rulemaking is necessary to keep Maine's policies in line with federal requirements, and is authorized under 22 M.R.S. 42(8) as it benefits Food Supplement recipients and does not have an adverse financial impact on any provider, member, recipient or beneficiary.
Effective Date: Dec 30, 2020
View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)  Posted: December 23, 2020
 
Food Supplement Rule #FS214A - FFY 2021 ABAWD 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. PL 116-127 (Families First Coronavirus Response Act) 2301 suspended these requirements from April 1, 2020 through the month following the month the public health emergency (PHE) declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, based on an outbreak of COVID-19 is lifted. The PHE declaration has not been lifted as of the date of this proposed rulemaking. The current PHE is set to expire January 20, 2021 though the Secretary has the authority to extend the PHE. This rule implements the national suspension of the ABAWD requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, for the period of September 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. 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 implements the July 15, 2020, ABAWD geographic state-wide waiver approval, pursuant to 7 C.F.R. 273.24(f)(2) and Section 6(o) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, for the period October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021, or until the date at which the new waiver standards become effective, whichever occurs earlier. The Department's waiver request was approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), on July 15, 2020. USDA: Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) Waiver Response, Serial Number 2190025. In the July 15, 2020 FNS Waiver Response, FNS determined that the Department met the waiver requirement by providing a copy of the Department of Labor Trigger Notice No. 2020-17, effective May 10, 2020, showing that, state-wide, Maine qualified for extended unemployment benefits. This rule change will enhance nutritional stability and consistency for thousands of Maine households at a time of financial and health uncertainty. The Department is adopting this rule with a retroactive application to September 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.
Effective Date: Dec 17, 2020
View Comments: Summary of Comments (Word)  Posted: December 16, 2020