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The following statement can be attributed to Elizabeth Lower-Basch, deputy executive director for policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).  

Washington, D.C., June 27, 2024–Today in a pair of cases, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned a 40yearold precedent, known as “Chevron deference,” which generally required courts to defer to the expertise of agency rulemakers. This precedent has supported tens of thousands of rules used by federal agencies to execute regulatory authority on topics from the environment to financial services to patient, consumer, and worker protections, and protected them from frivolous lawsuits. With this change, all regulations will be much more vulnerable to litigation – which will delay implementation even when the regulations are eventually upheld – and judges will be able to make decisions grounded in their personal opinions rather than the substantive knowledge of agency experts.  

Exactly how damaging this decision will be remains to be seen; Justice Roberts in his decision claims that it “does not call into question prior cases that relied on the Chevron framework.” But the decisions in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo and Relentless, Inc. v. Department of Commerce raise the stakes for judicial appointments at all levels, as well as increase the need for Congress to pass detailed legislative instructions that leave less room for judicial meddling. Because countless federal regulations support people with low incomes, these decisions have the potential to significantly affect their lives. 




Income is where the most striking disparities lie. U.S households with an income approaching $100,000 are most likely to purchase plant-based alternatives, but most of those making less than $45,000 rarely do. One reason is federal assistance like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, often provides too little financial help to make them affordable.

“It’s just a question of cost, and if that is going to be feasible for them, to make sure they make it through the month,” said Parker Gilkesson Davis, a senior analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy who studies nutrition and poverty.

Read the full article here. 

CLASP submitted comments in support of Connecticut’s Section 1115 waiver demonstration, which would provide pre-release Medicaid services to individuals leaving incarceration and improve continuity of care into the community upon release and during re-entry. CLASP appreciates Connecticut’s broad definition of qualifying conditions to include intellectual disability, acquired brain injuries, pregnancy and post-partum status, and chronic illnesses. If approved, the proposed demonstration would promote health equity and address the health needs of Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations.

See the full comment here. 

In April 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to state Medicaid agencies detailing opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to people up to 90 days before they are released from incarceration. Through a state flexibility known as a Section 1115 demonstration waiver, states may extend coverage to a population that is currently excluded from receiving Medicaid services.  

As states have applied for and implemented these “pre-release” waivers, CLASP has submitted several public comments in support of states using their waiver demonstrations to connect people in carceral settings with community-based health care and non-punitive social and behavioral health services ahead of their release. Research shows that incarcerated people have higher rates of mental illness, substance use disorder, and chronic disease than the general population. Gaps in health care coverage and racial disparities in incarceration rates are key drivers of health disparities for people of color. 

CLASP’s vision for re-entry requires prioritizing community repair and an active divestment from community supervision, including parole and probation systems. Community supervision continues to criminalize individuals and relegates them to second-class citizenship. Community repair, on the other hand, is an anti-carceral policy approach that requires removing corrections and law enforcement from the re-entry process altogether. In seeking approval for 1115 Medicaid demonstration waivers, states should steer investments away from carceral systems and toward community-based supports for people returning to their communities after incarceration. 


CLASP has submitted comments on the following 1115 demonstration waivers:

Washington (August 2022)

New Mexico (January 2023)

Massachusetts (November 2023)

North Carolina (December 2023)

Kentucky (February 2024)

Pennsylvania (March 2024)

Connecticut (May 2024)

June 12: Ashley Burnside presented at the Guaranteed Income Now Conference, hosted by the Economic Security Project in Detroit, Michigan.

This statement can be attributed to Parker Gilkesson Davis, senior policy analyst, Public Benefits Justice, Center for Law and Social Policy. 

Washington, D.C., May 24, 2024—Early this morning on a vote of 33 to 21, the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee passed the Farm Bill, which includes provisions that could strip roughly $30 billion in food assistance from SNAP households over the next decade. CLASP is deeply concerned about this cut resulting from the bill’s failure to maintain the necessary updates to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), the underlying formula for determining SNAP benefits. 

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture modernized the TFP for the first time in nearly 50 years to reflect current food prices and dietary needs, resulting in a 21 percent increase in SNAP benefits per person. This 2021 update, which provided an extra $36 per month to SNAP participants, was crucial in ensuring that SNAP participants could afford a nutritious diet. Restricting future evaluations of the TFP undermines this progress and represents one of the largest cuts to SNAP benefits since 1996. Ensuring that SNAP benefits are sufficient is essential for promoting economic justice and addressing food insecurity. 

The bill falls short in other crucial ways. It doesn’t include adequate protections to prevent benefit theft through EBT card skimming and lets the authority to reimburse participants for stolen benefits expire. We are also concerned about the enhanced data collection on SNAP food purchases as this could lead to greater food policing of SNAP participants in the name of “diet quality.” The bill also doesn’t address college hunger, allow beneficiaries to purchase hot foods, or ensure that all green card holders in the United States can access SNAP

We urge the full House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to reject the harmful proposals of this bill. We also urge Congress to uphold the integrity of the TFP for the well-being of all individuals and families experiencing poverty, include financial protections for victims of benefit theft, and collect data to expand and not limit participants’ purchasing power. 

By Juliana Zhou and Cara Brumfield

There are persistent, historic health inequities in the United States, particularly regarding race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, LGBTQ+ identity, and more. This report discusses the need for equitable data collection standards and recent updates to the federal race and ethnicity data standard, the Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (SPD15). The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) and BlueCross BlueShield Association (BCBSA) formed the Data Equity Coalition to advocate for improved data policies to ensure health equity.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), part of the Data Equity Coalition, emphasizes the importance of robust race and ethnicity data to address structural inequities in health care.

CLASP and the Data Equity Coalition recommends the following four actions to advance data equity:

  1. Improving data collection requirements
  2. Updating data standards
  3. Collaborating with diverse stakeholders
  4. Enforcing universal adoption of updated standards.

The report emphasizes the intersectional nature of health equity, advocating for a comprehensive understanding that includes factors such as poverty, gender identity, immigration status, disability, and sexual orientation. CLASP calls for multi-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders to address health inequities effectively, emphasizing the need for robust and publicly available race and ethnicity data to monitor and evaluate interventions.

>>View the report

>> Data Equity Coalition: Standardizing Data to Advance the Health Equity Movement

By Jesse Fairbanks

In late April, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in an important case regarding homelessness. Grants Pass v. Johnson will decide whether the city of Grants Pass, Oregon, violated the constitutional rights of people experiencing homelessness by fining or arresting them for sleeping outdoors—even when there were no shelters to take them in.

At the same time, several states and municipalities have expanded involuntary treatment at residential facilities for people struggling with mental illness or substance use. Most of these expansions target people experiencing homelessness who have crises in public. By one estimate, one-third of people who are homeless have a serious mental illness and one in five struggle with substance use. As a traumatic life event, homelessness can cause or exacerbate symptoms of mental illness and addiction.

In March, California voters narrowly passed Proposition 1, a sweeping measure pushed by Governor Gavin Newsom that will add new treatment beds in residential facilities. The state recently broadened the scope of its conservatorship law to include those who can’t provide for their basic needs, resembling a similar measure championed by Mayor Eric Adams in New York City. Other states like Oregon are considering similar expansions.

Although policymakers argue that involuntary treatment can help people experiencing homelessness, expanding forced treatment will have the same consequences as the Supreme Court siding with Grants Pass. Both interventions seek to hide people experiencing homelessness from public view; both seek to make unsheltered homelessness less visible rather than end it.


>>Read the full op-ed on The Progressive

By Ashley Burnside and Elizabeth Lower-Basch

All pregnant people should have the right to make their own reproductive decisions, free from legal restrictions; misleading, coercive, or false health information; and financial constraints. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program can be an important source of material support for pregnant people, parents, and children, providing cash, housing, diapers, and other necessities.

>> Read the fact sheet here

By Parker Gilkesson Davis

3 min read.

As a former social services caseworker turned SNAP policy expert, I’ve spent years navigating the intricacies of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) interview requirement. Even as a caseworker, I questioned the necessity of interviews, especially for clients who were already familiar with the program, didn’t have questions about SNAP or their case, and had submitted all the necessary information. 

For many clients, the interview process often felt redundant, as it asked the exact questions already covered in the application. Over time, I realized that the primary purpose of these interviews was to detect possible instances of fraud by trying to catch discrepancies between the application and the answers during the interview. While maintaining program integrity is important, it’s essential to note that SNAP fraud is remarkably rare. In fiscal year 2019, only 0.1 percent of SNAP issuances were overpayments based on Intentional Program Violations—which worked out to just a dime for every $100 of SNAP benefits. Moreover, only 0.9 percent were overpayments of any sort, including household and agency errors.  

Meanwhile, the SNAP program reaches, on average, 22 percent of those eligible. That means families are going without the food they need; and administrative burdens like the interview requirement are one of the reasons people find it hard to access SNAP. For example, these interviews are often scheduled without input from the client, which may require them to miss work to attend. Sometimes clients receive notification of their interview date after the actual date has passed.  

The focus on fraud increases the stigma attached to accessing food benefits through SNAP by implying that SNAP participants are thieves who must be watched. In reality, SNAP participants are children, parents, and grandparents. Many have disabilities or are trying to keep their loved ones fed while they are between jobs. They are working in the low-wage jobs that keep our society functioning, as nurses, home health aides, housekeepers, and possibly the friendly cashier at your local coffee shop.  

Despite the low incidence of fraud, caseworkers are required to dedicate significant time and resources to fraud prevention. This focus often overshadows other critical aspects of our work, such as providing trauma-informed care or referring families to additional assistance to address the myriad challenges of living in poverty. 

Removing the interview requirement would not only streamline the application process but also help minimize agency errors. With an interview option, workers can focus their efforts on those clients who need extra support. The time spent on unnecessary interviews can instead be spent on providing essential services to clients, addressing their immediate needs, and connecting them with appropriate resources. This shift in focus from fraud prevention to client-centered care is crucial in creating a more compassionate and effective social services system. 

Caseworkers are often better trained to look for fraud than to provide holistic support and assistance. But in my experience, caseworkers don’t want to spend time on unnecessary interviews that are ineffective at finding what infinitesimal fraud exists. They want to use those critical personal interactions with clients to help their clients find the resources and support they need to thrive. As we work toward an improved SNAP program, we must include an optional interview for those who would benefit from it and ensure that these caseworker jobs are secure, well-paid, and high quality. Caseworkers are essential to the success of SNAP.  

As we advocate for change, it’s vital to recognize the deep investments made in program integrity and the stereotypes that often surround public benefits recipients. Removing unnecessary barriers like the interview requirement is a step toward reorienting our priorities and ensuring that SNAP truly serves those in need with dignity and respect. Efforts to remove the interview requirement specifically for recertification is a nice first step, but our ultimate goal is to strengthen the program so it better serves those who need it by making the SNAP interview optional. This approach aims to uplift SNAP workers and recipients alike, fostering a more compassionate and responsive system that meets the diverse needs of our communities.