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New restrictions, penalties proposed for Kentucky assistance programs

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FRANKFORT, KY (WKRC) - Kentucky State Rep. David Meade, a Republican representing Stanford, says there needs to be more accountability when it comes to some of the commonwealth's social welfare programs like SNAP and Medicaid.

In House Bill 1, Meade is proposing several new restrictions.

"What we're going to do is require that all public assistance benefits be put on one card. The reason for that is you hear that folks go out and sell those EBT cards for cash, and, so, if we put everything on one card, I think it's going to be a deterrent to do that," Meade said.

That will also include new penalties for selling any electronic benefits card. HB1 also creates new regulations for anyone convicted of a drug crime.

"They'll have 90 days after incarceration to enroll in drug treatment or risk losing Medicaid benefits, and the reason for that is we're just trying to push people more toward recovery since we have such a tough and difficult opioid problem in our state," Meade said.

The bill would also look at not allowing cash withdrawals from a person's benefits.

Dustin Pugel with the nonpartisan Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says these changes could end up hurting people.

"It makes it harder to use your benefits by not allowing people to take out cash. Which, a lot of times, you need to pay rent or pay your utility bill or pay your babysitter," Pugel said.

Pugel says most people who receive assistance are working.

"They just work in really low-wage jobs that pay so little that they qualify for these programs, and sometimes that's because their hours have been cut back. Sometimes it's just that there aren't adequate jobs where they live," Pugel said.

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Rep. Meade says they are still finetuning the bill and changes will be made.

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