On February 17, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, H.R. 3630 which includes a provision to extend the TANF program through September 30, 2012. This was not a clean extension, meaning there were changes to the program included.
The first change requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to set (by proposed and final rule) data exchange standards for information that must be reported under TANF. Such standards should be a useful improvement in the quality and usability of TANF information.
The second change prohibits the use of electronic benefit transfer transactions in casinos, liquor stores
or adult entertainment venues. It imposes a penalty of up to 5 percent of the TANF block grant amount if HHS determines that a state has not implemented and maintained such policies within two years of enactment of this law.
In addition the passage of H.R. 3630 prevented the 27% Medicare payment cut. While this is not the permanent fix that NASW advocated for, it does prevent the cut that was scheduled for March 1. This bill delays the cut until the end of the year. President Obama should sign the bill into law soon.