Emergency Rulemaking

Food Supplemement Rule #219E - Temporary Student Policy Rule - Track Changes (Word)  Rule - Clean (Word)   
Concise Summary: This emergency 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. An emergency rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with federal law. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) Section 702(e) requires that students 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 PHE ends. This emergency rulemaking is distinct from 217E which was implemented on an emergency basis on February 1, 2021, though both arise from the same Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8054, the Department finds that emergency rulemaking is necessary to immediately provide this essential support during the current health emergency and in order to ensure that Food Supplement benefits are issued appropriately, accurately, and in a timely fashion consistent with federal law. Even prior to the pandemic, Maine had challenges with food security. COVID-19 has led to an increase in Maine's Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 1.9 to 7 percentage points, or 12,252 to 48,672 additional Maine residents unemployed (https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus.html). COVID-19 has increased food insecurity across the country, including Maine (https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/05/business/grocery-prices-rising/index.html and https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/quarter-americans-food-insecurity-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-survey-suggests). Furthermore, "College students are among those struggling the most to make ends meet while they pursue education to achieve greater economic security for themselves and their familes." (https://bangordailynews.com/2020/12/26/opinion/contributors/we-all-have…). The expanded student eligibility helps ease the burden for these students and provides an economic boost for local grocers. Modification of the usual rulemaking procedures under the Maine Administrative Procedure Act is necessary to ensure the public health, safety and welfare of Maine residents by providing additional food security during this public health emergency. Furthermore, non-compliance with this federal mandate could result in federal penalties or loss of federal funds at a time when the state is facing serious budget challenges. Following this emergency rulemaking, which is effective for 90 days, the Department shall immediately pursue proposed routine technical rulemaking for these changes, which shall provide notice and opportunity for the public to comment, and then finally adopt the rule changes pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8052. 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 emergency rule 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.
Effective Date: February 18, 2021
 
Food Supplement Rule #217E - Increases Pursuant to P.L. 116-260 Rule - Track Changes (Word)  Rule - Clean (Word)   
Concise Summary: This emergency rule implements increases to the maximum and minimum allotments from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. As a result, Food Supplement benefits will increase for some households. An emergency rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with the federal law resultant from the signing of H.R. 113 (116th Congress 2020). The subsequent law (P.L. 116-260) requires that Food Supplement Program maximum and minimum allotments be increased by 15 percent for the period of January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) provided the exact figures and a guidance memo December 28, 2020. Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8054, the Department finds that emergency rulemaking is necessary to immediately provide this essential support during the current health emergency and in order to ensure that Food Supplement benefits are issued appropriately, accurately, and in a timely fashion consistent with federal law. Even prior to the pandemic, Maine had serious challenges with food insecurity. COVID-19 has led to an increase in Maine's Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 1.9 to 7 percentage points, or 12,252 to 48,672 additional Maine residents unemployed (https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus.html). Furthermore, it has resulted in increased food insecurity (https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/05/business/grocery-prices-rising/index.html and https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/quarter-americans-food-insecurity-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-survey-suggests) and "put an unimaginable amount of stress on Maines food industry" according to the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association (https://www.mgfpa.org/maine-dep-delays-enforcement-of-polystyrene-foam-…). The 15 percent increase in the minimum and maximum benefit levels helps all SNAP recipients, and particularly targets the neediest SNAP recipients who already received the maximum allotment for their household size. This is roughly one third of Maine SNAP recipients. Modification of the usual rulemaking procedures under the Maine Administrative Procedure Act is necessary to ensure the public health, safety and welfare of Maine residents by providing additional food security during this public health emergency. Furthermore, non-compliance with this federal change could result in federal penalties or loss of federal funds at a time when the state is facing serious budget challenges. Following this emergency rulemaking, which is effective for 90 days, the Department shall immediately pursue proposed routine technical rulemaking for these changes, which shall provide notice and opportunity for the public to comment, and then finally adopt the rule changes pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8052. The Consolidated Appropriations Act was enacted on December 27, 2020, requiring changes to be effective January 1, 2021. Accordingly, the Department is adopting this emergency rule to apply retroactively, effective January 1, 2021, to Food Supplement benefit amounts. 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: February 1, 2021
 
Food Supplement Rule #215E - FFY 2021 Budgeting Figures Rule - Track Changes  Rule - Clean   
Concise Summary: This emergency rule implements annual, federally required updates to: the federal poverty levels; maximum allotments; the standard, homeless and maximum shelter deductions for the Food Supplement program. As a result, Food Supplement benefits will change for some households beginning October 1, 2020. 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 and income change reporting thresholds be updated each year, effective October 1. This year, 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. An emergency rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with Federal regulation 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d), which requires annual calculation of federal poverty levels, the standard deduction and standard utility allowances (SUAs). Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8054, the Department finds that emergency rulemaking is necessary for the health, safety, and general welfare in order to ensure that Food Supplement benefits are issued appropriately, accurately, and in a timely fashion consistent with federal law. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) memoranda providing these figures were not provided in a timeframe that would allow the Department to comply with the non-emergency rulemaking process and still implement by the required date of October 1, 2020. Therefore, the Department finds that an emergency rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with Federal regulation 7 C.F.R. 273.9(d), which requires annual calculation of federal poverty levels, the standard deduction and standard utility allowances (SUAs). Non-compliance could result in federal penalties or loss of federal funds.
Effective Date: Oct 1, 2020
 
MaineCare Rule #298E - COVID-19 Testing for Uninsured Individuals Rule Track Changes  Rule Clean   
Concise Summary: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) H.R. 6201, 116 Cong. (2019-2020), P.L. No. 116-127 (3/18/2020), 134 STAT 178 et seq. specified in Division F, Section 6004 (a) (3) that State Medicaid programs were authorized to create an optional coverage group to ensure services related to testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 are available in response to the pandemic, pursuant to Section 1902(a)(10)(A)(ii)(XXIII) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 1396a(a)(10) as amended. This is a limited coverage benefit that is effective March 18, 2020 and ends on the last day of the month within which the federal public health emergency (PHE) ends, unless otherwise directed by CMS, even if that period exceeds 90 days, pursuant to the Governor's Executive Order 48, FY 19/20. Coverage under this group is available to individuals who are without health insurance, or whose health insurance coverage does not meet the requirements for minimum essential coverage. This rule change adopts the eligibility criteria established within the Act into the MaineCare Eligibility Manual. This rule change will reduce barriers to COVID-19 testing and treatment which will improve health outcomes for the specific individuals covered and reduce the spread of this virus throughout the Maine population as a whole. Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. 8054, the Department finds that emergency rulemaking is necessary to provide this essential service during the current health emergency. Due to the emergency nature of the legislation establishing this coverage group, the Department was unable to adopt this rule prior to March 18, 2020. Therefore, the Department is adopting this emergency rule to apply retroactively to eligibility determinations made on or after March 18, 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. Modification of the usual rulemaking procedures under the Maine Administrative Procedure Act is necessary to ensure the public health, safety and welfare of Maine residents as more fully described in the Basis Statement accompanying this rulemaking.
Effective Date: May 13, 2020