Proposed Rulemaking

TANF Rule #117P - FFY 2022 COLA, Application Process Updates, and Post TANF Services Budgeting Updates.

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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 proposes to update the introductory text to simplify language, pertaining to the receipt of assistance that is counted toward the 60-month lifetime limit. Additionally, changes are being proposed to disentangle the TANF and MaineCare application processes. The TANF manual specifies that all applications for TANF benefits are also 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 and the current TANF manual conflict with Maines Medicaid State Plan. As such, reference to treating the Public Assistance application as a MaineCare application would be removed from this chapter. The requirement for Applicants and Participants to appear in-person for interviews and orientation meetings creates 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 slows or reduces 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 proposes to remove all remaining in-person requirements from the manual. To strengthen program integrity and reduce confusion, the Department proposes to add 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 also proposes clarifying language regarding TCC overpayment responsibility and recovery procedures. 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 would be 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 would be 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 proposing to adopt 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 proposed to be added to Chapter I(D)(2)(iii). The Department proposes to update the text describing the legal foundation for the Alternative Aid program to reflect the current authority and requirement to administer said program. The Department proposes to update or add various cross references for clarity. The Department proposes to update the Table of Contents as a result of all proposed changes. Finally, various changes are being proposed to formatting, punctuation, and word choice, that will not alter the meaning of the text, but will enhance readability and inclusivity.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: August 23, 2021 | Posted: July 21, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #220P - ABAWD FFY 2022

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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 proposes to implement 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 would be 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 will enhance nutritional stability and consistency for thousands of Maine households at a time of financial and health uncertainty.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: June 25, 2021 | Posted: May 26, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #218P - Updates to Card Replacement and Benefit Use and Expungement

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Concise Summary:

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. Additionally, the Department proposes to modify 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 proposed to card replacement. Previously, three replacement cards in a 12-month period were determined "excessive". The Department proposes to increase 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 would be 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 would provide a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and would not have an adverse financial effect on either providers or beneficiaries or recipients. This rule change proposes to remove 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 proposed to be generalized to contacting the Office for Family Independence (OFI). This proposed 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 proposed to modernize the manual and enhance readability. 1) Minor corrections would be made to typographical errors. 2) Numbering and lettering of subsections, paragraphs, etc. would be 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 would be consolidated to consistent terms with preference given to terms that are defined within the manual. 4) Whole numbers through ten would be represented only by writing out the word. All other figures would be represented, only, in numerical form. This proposed change is part of an Office wide standardization effort to improve the flow of the manual by not representing each figure twice. 5) Some sentence modifications are proposed to spell out responsibilities and responsible parties instead of reading like an instruction manual for Department staff. 6) Gender specific pronouns would be replaced with gender neutral ones as part of an Office wide effort toward inclusivity. 7) Redundant language would be removed where possible to enhance the readability of the manual.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: June 21, 2021 | Posted: May 19, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #216P - Review Interview Waiver

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Concise Summary:

This proposed rule change would align Maine's policy with practice approved under P.L. 116-159 and the Food and Nutrition Services waiver serial number 2190019 approved on October 21, 2020. P.L. 116-159 4603(a)(1)(A)(iii) allows states to adjust interview requirements through June 30, 2021, consistent with the adjustments provided in the Food and Nutrition Services March 26, 2020, blanket approval for adjusting interview requirements. 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, provided the applicants identity has been verified and all other mandatory verifications in 7 C.F.R. 273.2(f)(1) have been completed. 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 both 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. This proposed rule change would reduce the administrative burden on Department staff and ease access to Food Supplement benefits for some of Maines most vulnerable residents. It would improve food security for these individuals and decrease the likelihood that these particularly vulnerable residents would come into a DHHS office during a public health crisis. The following additional changes are proposed to modernize the manual and enhance readability. 1) References to "recertification" and redetermination would be clarified to either recertification form when referring to the document, or eligibility review when referring to the overall process. 2) Minor corrections would be made to typographical errors. 3) Numbering and lettering of Subsections, Paragraphs, etc. would be 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 would be 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 would be updated to eliminate the option for Department staff to require a face to face interview for Food Supplement applications and annual eligibility reviews. 6) References to appearing for or attending an interview would be changed to complete to reflect the fact that when interviews are conducted, they may not be in person. 7) Whole numbers through ten would be represented only by writing out the word. All other figures would be represented, only, in numerical form. This proposed change is part of an Office wide standardization effort to improve the flow of the manual by not representing each figure twice. 8) In FS 222-4(3), language would be added specifying that the Department shall notify the household of its rights and responsibilities annually even if no interview is conducted. 9) In FS 222-4(4), references to issue resolutions would be changed to clarifying questionable information. This proposed change would shift the language to a term defined within the manual and provide greater clarity. 10) Wording changes would be 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. 11) In FS 444-2 references to drug addiction or alcoholic rehabilitation would be updated to Substance Use Disorder treatment. 12) In FS 444-2, a redundant reference to a work requirement exception was removed as it is addressed in FS 111-5. 13) Language would be added to update the names of Departments and Agencies referenced. 14) Gender specific pronouns would be replaced with gender neutral ones as part of an Office wide effort toward inclusivity. 15) A requirement that the household provide necessary verifications would be added to Section FS 666-9(1) for clarity. 16) Clarification would be 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. 17) Redundant language would be removed where possible to enhance the readability of the manual. 18) Several terms in Section FS 999-1 would be removed or reworded based on how or if they were used elsewhere in the manual. a) Alcohol & Drug Centers would be changed to Centers for the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders. The definition would be modernized. Other terms that refer to these centers, in portions of the chapter that have not been updated as of this rulemaking would be added and reference this definition. b) Case Name would be removed. c) In the definition of Mass Changes the outdated reference to AFDC would be updated to TANF. d) Mixed Funded Household would be removed. e) Prospective Budgeting would be removed. f) Shelter for Battered Persons would be added as an alternative to Shelter for Battered Women and Children. Battered Persons is the preferred term and 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 would be modernized. h) The definition of six-month Report would be 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 would be removed. (Advance Notice is used consistently throughout the manual.) 19) The definition of Applicant would be updated to clarify that it is the individual for whom benefits are requested, regardless of whether any benefits are actually issued. 20) A definition of Assistance Group would be added. 21) The definition of Documentation would be 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. Department staff will process applications and annual eligibility reviews for households if they have all necessary verifications. Department staff will interview the household if there is unclear information or the household will be found ineligible. Households that do not qualify for the waivers will still be scheduled for an interview pending any other waiver. Any household requesting an interview will be granted one. The Department is proposing to adopt 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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: June 14, 2021 | Posted: May 12, 2021

ASPIRE Rule #28P - TANF Earnings Disregard Extensions

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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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: April 26, 2021 | Posted: March 24, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #219P - Temporary Student Policy

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Concise Summary:

This rule change proposes to implement 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 would change 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 P.L. 116-260. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) Title VII Nutrition and Agriculture Relief, Subtitle A Nutrition, 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 rulemaking is distinct from 217P which was proposed on February 17, 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 proposes to adopt 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 would provide a benefit to recipients or beneficiaries and would 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 proposed: 1) Formatting and enumeration would be 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 would be reorganized to list them from the easiest to verify and apply to the most cumbersome; 3) Incorrect citations would be corrected. 4) Redundant conjunctions would be removed; 5) Names of programs would be updated or added as needed; 6) Gender specific pronouns would be replaced with gender neutral ones; 7) The Subsection on treatment of income would be dramatically reworded to read more like a list of requirements and less like an instruction manual for Department staff,and be updated to minimize redundancies; and 8) A detailed example that has caused some confusion about income and expense averaging strategies would be removed, and the process for that averaging would be consolidated to its own paragraph for emphasis.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: April 12, 2021 | Posted: March 10, 2021

MaineCare Rule #295P - Updates to Parts 9, (Special) Limited Benefit Groups, and 18, Presumptive Eligibility Determined By Hospitals

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Concise Summary:

The Department proposes 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, primarily with regard to presumptive eligibility determinations. Additionally, the Department regularly reviews policies to ensure clarity and conformity with state and federal Medicaid requirements. The Department proposes to add 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 proposes the following changes. References to "HIV/AIDS Waiver" would be changed to Benefit for People living with HIV/AIDS. Language would be added to specify that this benefit is also referred to as the Special Benefit Waiver or SBW. 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. The Department proposes changes in Subsection 1(A) specifying that this requirement only applies to individuals who qualify for SSI-Related MaineCare based on disability (not age). Language would be added to Subsection 1(C) specifying that SSI-Related budgeting procedures (in Part 7) apply. To improve specificity, the due date of premiums would be added to the first paragraph of Subsection 2. Subsection 2(A)(1) would be amended to clarify that multiple month payments should be made in advance of the due date. Subsection 2(A)(2) would be 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) would be amended to clarify that the date in question is the last day of the grace period. Subsection 2(B)(2)(b) would be amended to allow for a person other than a relative to be responsible for an individuals premium payments. Subsection 3(A) would be amended to clarify that continuous coverage will 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 proposes the following change to clarify that there are, in fact, two distinct Breast and Cervical Cancer programs. A sentence would be 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 proposes to add language to 10-144 C.M.R. Ch. 332, the MaineCare Eligibility Manual, 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. These changes shall be effective retroactive to October 1, 2020. Other proposed changes are part of a standardization of practice across all OFI rules. References to MaineCare coverage that does not limit its coverage to a specific system or condition would be consistently changed to full MaineCare. Furthermore, this rulemaking proposes to make 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 proposed changes clarify the Hospital Presumptive Eligibility process and impose an 80% performance standard and a process for enforcing same. The primary substantive changes are proposed regarding the presumptive eligibility determination process. The rule implements the legislatures 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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: March 22, 2021 | Posted: February 17, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #217P - Increases Pursuant to P.L. 116-260

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Concise Summary:

This rule change proposes to implement increases to the maximum and minimum allotments from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021. As a result, Food Supplement benefits would increase for some households. Furthermore, it proposes to increase eligibility thresholds. As a result, more households would be eligible for Food Supplement benefits. A rule change is necessary to remain in compliance with P.L. 116-260. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (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 guidance in a December 28, 2020 memo. The Department implemented these changes on an emergency basis on February 1, 2021 effective January 1, 2020, in Rulemaking No. FS217E. Because the emergency rule is effective for only 90 days, this rulemaking is necessary to make the changes permanent. 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 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. Finally, the rule change proposes to remove 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 would, also, be condensed to more clearly show where figures have been retained for an extended period of time.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: March 22, 2021 | Posted: February 17, 2021

FSET Rule #5 - Bachelors Programs Approved

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Concise Summary:

Effective October 1, 2020, this rulemaking proposes to expand Maine's 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. Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently renewed its formal partnership with the Maine Department of Labors Competitive Skills Scholarship Program (CSSP) to include the CSSP program in its array of FSET services. This change will allow co-enrolled FSET and CSSP participants to most efficiently participate in educational programming. As detailed in its website at http://www.mainecareercenter.gov/cssp.shtml, the program includes "certificate programs and two- and four-year degrees - training for industry recognized credentials, and support leading to skilled, well-compensated jobs with anticipated high employment demand." The Department of Labor maintains this list of jobs considered high-wage, in demand occupations, which have an average wage at or above the average wage for all occupations in Maine and are projected to have a minimum number of job openings annually. 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. 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. Effective March 8, 2021, this rulemaking proposes to strike 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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: March 8, 2021 | Posted: February 3, 2021

Food Supplement Rule #215P - FFY 2021 Budgeting Figures

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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, effective October 1, 2020, in Rule No. FS215E. 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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: November 23, 2020 | Posted: October 21, 2020

Food Supplement Rule #214P - FFY 2021 ABAWD

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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 Corona Virus 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 proposed rule implements the national suspension of the ABAWD requirements under the Families First Corona Virus 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. The proposed 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 proposing to adopt 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.

Comment deadline past Comment Deadline: Monday, November 2, 2020 | Posted: September 30, 2020