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AARP Kentucky Releases Statement on House Bill 367

March 14, 2024 - Remarks on Committee Substitute to House Bill 367 by Gary W. Adkins, volunteer state president of AARP Kentucky. Speaking before Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee.

AARP Kentucky expressed its earlier concerns about House Bill 367 because it would have disproportionally affected older Kentuckians. We had no doubt make it more difficult for older Kentuckians to qualify for food assistance by ending the Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) and requiring stricter asset tests.

The BBCE provides a way to reduce administrative burden and makes it easier for older Kentuckians to apply to and qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And seniors usually have accumulated some, buy mostly small assets that could lock them out of benefits. We thank Representative Williams and Chairman Wise for addressing these concerns in the committee substitute.

In Kentucky, individuals already struggling with inflation and cost of living increases. Taking away this modest benefit of food assistance could really cause struggles in households across the state. We know many older Kentuckians are going to have to make tough decisions of deciding between paying for their utilities to keep their lights on, their high-cost prescription drugs to keep them feeling well, and the cost of their food to keep them healthy.

We remain concerned that with the work requirements in this bill will cause older workers to be more at risk of losing their SNAP benefits. Older Kentuckians face significant barriers to gaining employment and take longer to find employment compared younger age groups. Older workers continue to remain long-term unemployed at a much higher rate than younger workers, and especially in some Kentucky counties. There is no federal backstop to trigger an automatic waiver of work requirements. Kentucky must have a threshold percentage for waiver to prevent a special legislative session.

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