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Question. What has been the largest area of growth within the Cash/Medical assistance program?
Answer. The special programs of refugee cash assistance (RCA) and refugee medical assistance (RMA) for needy refugees who do not meet the categorical eligibility requirements for AFDC, Medicaid, and SSI have experienced the largest growth in cash and medical assistance.
Question. Would you please outline briefly the present status of refugee dependency rates. What is the average dependency rate for eligible refugees? To what degree do dependency rates vary from State to State?
Answer. As of September 30, 1989, the dependency rate of refugees who had arrived in the United States during the previous 24 months was 48.5 percent. Rates have varied greatly from State to State throughout the refugee program. The table below provides State-by-State figures.
FSA is not able to provide comparable dependency rates for September 30, 1990, because the Federal refugee funding period for AFDC, Medicaid, and SSI was reduced from 24 months to four months in January 1990 and to zero months in September 1990. Consequently, the data collected on refugees receiving assistance under these programs are no longer comparable.
Cash Assistance Dependency Among Time-Eligible Refugees
Cash Assistance Dependency Among Time-Eligible Refugees
a/ Caseload data derived from the Quarterly Performance Reports, or
b/ California's cash assistance data include 35,528 recipients participating in the State's Refugee Demonstration Project (RDP) as of 9/30/89.
c/ California's cash assistance data include 29,816 recipients participating in the State's Refugee Demonstration Project (RDP) as of 9/30/88.
d/ Oregon's cash assistance data include 652 recipients participating in the State's Refugee Early Employment Project (REEP) as of 9/30/89.
e/ Oregon's cash assistance data include 278 recipients participating in the State's Refugee Early Employment Project (REEP) as of 9/30/88.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTTED BY SENATOR WARREN RUDMAN
The FY 92 request for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is $585 million below the FY 1991 appropriation, including amounts provided in an Energy Emergency Contingency Fund. This is a reduction of more than 36 percent. In testimony before the Subcommittee, these massive reductions were justified on the basis that energy burdens on families have been reduced as a result of a decline in prices and consumption. However, your most recent report on the program states that fewer households are receiving LIHEAP assistance and that the percent of household income spent on energy remained about the same as in 1981.
Question. If fewer households are receiving benefits and eligible households continue to pay as large a percentage of income as a decade ago, how do you interpret this as a sign of less need?
Answer. According to HHS' annual LIHEAP report to Congress for FY 1989, the percent of household income spent on energy has not remained the same as in 1981. In fact, it has declined sharply. shown in table K-13 (page 21), the average home energy (space heating and cooling) burden of low income households declined from 8.0 percent of household income in 1981 to 5.4 percent of household income in 1989, indicating a reduced need for LIHEAP to offset home energy costs as a percent of household income.
Table K-13. Average burden of expenditures for home heating, home cooling, and total residential energy, for low income households, 1979 to 1989 (p. 134 of HHS' annual LIHEAP report to Congress for FY 1989)
Question. What percentage of eligible households was served by the program in 1990.
Answer. Our latest estimate for FY 1990 indicates that 5.8 million households were assisted with heating costs. Based on preliminary estimates of eligible households derived from the Census Bureau's March 1990 Current Population Survey, the 5.8 million households constitute:
23 percent of the 25.4 million households eligible under the federal maximum income standard and
37 percent of the 15.7 million households eligible using stricter state LIHEAP income standards.
Question. Your budget documents indicate that the LIHEAP was never intended to meet the entire home energy costs of low income households, but rather to supplement assistance available through other federal and state programs. What percentage of home energy costs were covered by LIHEAP during the 1990 and 1991 heating season?
Answer. The data for the 1989-90 winter heating season are being developed for HHS' annual LIHEAP report to Congress for FY 1990. We should have that data developed some time in April 1991. We would be happy to provide the data to the Subcommittee at that time.
The data for the 1990-91 winter heating season will not be available until April 1992.
Question. Last year, Congress created an Energy Emergency Contingency Fund to meet increased demand resulting from unexpected fuel price increases. Oil and propane prices triggered the release of the contingency funds in mid-December. How much higher than average were December 1990 heating oil prices?
Answer. DOE calculated that the average price for home heating oil for the month of December for the years 1986-89 was 85.9 cents per gallon and that the December "trigger" price of 20% above this
average was 103.1 cents per gallon. DOE identified three national survey prices of home heating oil during December 1990 of 128.5 cents per gallon on December 3, 1990; 124.1 cents per gallon on December 17, 1990; and 120.3 cents per gallon on January 7, 1991. These prices were well above the "trigger" that caused release of the contingency funds. We now have more detailed information on December 1990 prices from the Petroleum Marketing Monthly which is released by DOE in late March. The Petroleum Marketing Monthly's more comprehensive survey shows an average for the month of December of $1.19 per gallon, which is lower than the quick surveys used to trigger the contingency fund.
Question. The FY 92 budget includes a request for an identical contingency fund of $100 million. Do you anticipate a problem with further price increases in home heating oil next year and is that why you proposed an identical contingency fund?
Answer. We do not expect further increases in the cost of home heating oil. Our budget estimates anticipate that the contingency fund will not be triggered in FY 1992 and the funds requested will not be outlayed. The price for home heating oil began to decrease significantly following the start of Operation Desert Storm. With both the conflict and the worst of this winter heating season behind us, we anticipate that prices will decline even further. However, the price of home heating oil has been the most volatile of all the fuels during crisis periods. In the event of a crisis next winter, such as unusually colder weather, prices for home heating fuels would be the most likely to be affected.
The Energy Emergency Contingency Fund was established to deal with increases in the costs of home heating oils resulting from the Middle East turmoil. According to the provisions of the statute (Public Law 101-517), the contingency funds were distributed to the states on the basis of their low income households' consumption of home heating oil, liquified petroleum gas, and kerosene. It is on the basis of this statutory provision that we have proposed $100 million in energy emergency contingency funds in FY 1992.
Question. Citing the New England region in testimony before the Subcommittee, you indicated that the Family Support Administration has seen an increase in the number of AFDC applications that coincides with the beginning of the economic downturn. What mechanisms do you have in place to measure increases in requests for assistance under the LIHEAP program?
Answer. We have one mechanism in place to measure the change in requests for assistance under the LIHEAP program. Beginning with the Family Support Administration's FY 1989 Winter Telephone Survey, states are asked twice a year for information about the number of applications received for LIHEAP heating and crisis assistance for both the previous and current fiscal years. We are still developing and analyzing that information from this year's Winter LIHEAP Telephone Survey. That data should be available in April 1991.
Question. How many more Americans were eligible for LIHEAP assistance this year than last year, as a result of the economic downturn?
Answer. We derive our estimates of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance from the Current Population Survey conducted in March of each year by the Bureau of the Census. We have preliminary data on the number of households eligible for LIHEAP assistance in FY 1990. A comparison of that data with FY 1989 data indicates that an additional 200,000 households were eligible in FY 1990, i.e., 25.4 million households were eligible in FY 1990 compared to 25.2 million households in FY 1989 under the federal maximum income standard. The information for FY 1991 will not be available until data from the March 1991 Current Population Survey are made available to us in September 1991.