SECTION 1. Chapter 118E of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding after Section 77 the following section:-
Section 78 A. In order to improve access to federal nutrition assistance and reduce health care costs due to lack of adequate nutrition, the Division of Medicaid shall offer both applicants and recipients of MassHealth and Medicare Savings Program, also known as MassHealth Buy-In, the option to both (a) initiate an application for federal supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits at the time of application or renewal for medical assistance and (b) authorize the division to submit said application to the department of transitional assistance. The option to apply for nutrition assistance shall be offered to applicants and recipients for medical assistance whose reported gross income is below two hundred percent of the federal poverty level.
With the consent of said applicant or recipient, the division shall share relevant financial and other eligibility information and supporting documentation that may be required to qualify the applicant or recipient for supplemental nutrition assistance benefits. The department of transitional assistance shall promptly inform said applicant of the eligibility requirements and any additional verifications or obligations.
SECTION 2: Chapter 118E of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding after Section 77 the following section:-
Section 78 B. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the executive office of health and human services and the executive office of communities and development shall initiate development of a common application portal for individuals to simultaneously apply for state-administered needs-based benefits and services in coordination with the division of Medicaid, the department of transitional assistance, the department of early education and care, the executive office of education and the department of housing and community development. The common application shall allow individuals the option to apply at the same time for MassHealth coverage, the supplemental nutrition assistance program, income supports under Chapters 117A and 118 of the General Laws, veterans services benefits under Chapter 115 of the General Laws, child care subsidies, housing subsidies, fuel assistance and other needs-based health care, nutrition and shelter benefits.
SECTION 3: Section 1C of Chapter 69 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following paragraphs after the first paragraph in this section:
The board shall further require that all public schools that participate in the national school lunch program include with the application forms offered to families, either electronically or on paper, information on the availability of the federal supplemental nutrition assistance program. The application materials should include information that clearly explains how families may apply for said nutrition program directly or through an outreach partner designated by the department of transitional assistance, and information advising families that receipt of said nutrition benefit automatically provides free meal status for students.
The department of early and secondary education shall develop a template application for the national school lunch program that shall include an option for a family to give permission to the school district to share his or her name, address and contact information with an community organization approved to do application assistance for the supplemental nutrition assistance program, as determined by the department of transitional assistance. The department shall promote this revised application to all school districts and shall encourage them to share this form with families applying for the national school lunch program.
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