Senator tackles healthcare’s low-wage trap

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Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, appears before the Missouri Senate health committee to discuss his bill aimed at tackling Medicaid's "low-wage trap." Photo by Youyou Zhou (Missouri News Horizon).

Missouri News Horizon
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s low-income families currently face a catch-22 when it comes to child care benefits, according to one state Senator who wants to change the rules.

On Tuesday, lawmakers considered a bill that would change current child care subsidy income guidelines that cause a sudden drop-off in benefits when a family’s income rises above a certain level. Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has proposed a gradual trade-off allowing families to retain benefits as their income slowly rises.

While presenting his bill to the Senate health committee, Schaaf argued that the current system does more harm than good to families trying to work their way out of poverty. Schaafs bill would create a transitional pilot program as a solution to what he called “the low-wage trap.”

Instead of a sudden loss of all subsidies, this program would allow the recipient to continue receiving benefits if they choose to pay a premium on the income they receive above the maximum allowable level for full child care benefits.

Schaaf claimed his bill would not only benefit families with low-income financially, but save taxpayers’ money by providing an incentive for families to make a living on their own.

“I am pretty sure that this would work. People have no reason not to participate in the program.” Schaff said.

The pilot program would be open to all families currently under child care assistance who receive benefits.