Food stamp cuts proposed by Republicans could boot over 5 million people off of the program and create health problems that would cost the country more than the cuts save, according to a new analysis by the Health Impact Project.
If Congress cuts $20.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as the initial House farm bill would have done, “as many as 5.1 million people could lose eligibility for the program,” the report found. The vast majority of those affected – 83 percent – already live below the poverty line. On average, losing SNAP benefits would slice the group’s incomes by 38 percent.
Further weakening an already vulnerable population would increase disease rates and thereby raise the country’s health care costs. Building off of previous research that found children who receive food stamps become healthier adults than low-income kids who grow up without food aid, the report predicts a $15 billion increase over 10 years in health care costs related just to diabetes. The cuts would also increase the incidence of heart disease, asthma, and various mental health problems, making it very likely that the SNAP cuts would cost more than they save.