1 TANF recipients are categorically eligible for food stamps; the income threshold for most other cases is at 135 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). For thresholds as of Fiscal Year 2002, see "Food Stamp Resources, Income, and Benefits for Households in the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia, 10/1/01 through 9/30/02." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture.
2 States began by extending eligibility to women and children in families with income slightly higher than historic Medicaid eligibility thresholds. They also began providing coverage to other "medically needy" persons who did not qualify for welfare programs but incurred large health-related expenses. Throughout the 1990s, most states continued to expand Medicaid coverage for children, and in the early to mid-1990s a limited number of states began to implement health insurance coverage programs that provided private, non-Medicaid coverage, for children ineligible for Medicaid. Again, these programs primarily targeted children in families with income too high to qualify for Medicaid.
3 However, as a result of state flexibility in determining what income is counted for eligibility determination, states, in effect, can provide coverage up to any income eligibility threshold as desired, as long as coverage policies favor children in families with lower income. For example, a state can choose to disregard, or not count, an amount of income equal to 100 percent of poverty. This policy can effectively raise an income eligibility ceiling from, say, 200 percent of poverty to 300 percent. The SCHIP legislation allowed some states with generous coverage eligibility policies, such as Washington and Missouri, to expand beyond 200 percent of poverty (their Medicaid thresholds) without the use of disregard mechanisms. States can also modify eligibility criteria, including income, by seeking federal waivers.