Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Poverty Levels Released

What Do the New Guidelines Mean for the Medicaid Option?  

Yesterday federal officials released the 2013 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines, better known as the federal poverty level (FPL).  States and the federal government use the guidelines to determine eligibility for many public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, BadgerCare and child care subsidies.

The guidelines are adjusted each year, based on inflation. This year the poverty level is up 2 percent for most household sizes. For a family of three, the poverty level is now $19,530, and it is $4,020 higher for each additional family member.

The Wisconsin Budget Project has updated our tables that show the poverty level for different family sizes, and what those numbers translate into at different percentages of the poverty level (relevant for various public assistance programs). The tables also convert the annual figures into monthly and hourly amounts for the different percentages of the poverty level.

One of the many places where the guidelines are relevant is in the ongoing debate over whether Wisconsin should use the federal funding provided by the health care reform law to close the gap in BadgerCare coverage for adults who aren’t custodial parents. That federal funding would pay all of the cost of covering newly-eligible non-custodial adults (often referred to as childless adults) who have incomes below 138% of FPL.

Based on the new 2013 poverty level figures, closing the gap in BadgerCare seems like a very easy choice to us, since it would only apply to people meeting the following modest limits on income:
  • For a single person, the upper limit would be $15,856 per year, which is equivalent to $7.62 per hour at a 40 hour per week job.
  • For a married couple without children, the income limit of 138% of FPL is $21,404, which amounts to 40 hours per week at $10.29 per hour.
You can find other family sizes and other percentages of poverty in the new tables on the Budget Project website.

Jon Peacock
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