Wisconsin Poverty Report

UW-Madison researchers find modest drop in Wisconsin poverty rates, By Bill Glauber, May 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Boosted by a growth in jobs, poverty in Wisconsin dropped from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.7% in 2015 according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. It is the lowest poverty rate recorded since the WPM was introduced nine years ago by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute of Research on Poverty…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

3-state study sizes up gains via Medicaid; coverage soars in Arkansas, Kentucky, less so in Texas, By Andy Davis, May 23, 2017, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Three years after their states expanded Medicaid, low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be more likely to have a doctor and less likely to have trouble paying medical bills or to delay seeking care because of the cost, a study has found. The study, conducted annually since 2013 by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found those and other improvements in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be significant compared with smaller or nonexistent gains in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

As GOP tarries on health bill, funding for children’s health languishes, By Julie Rovner, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a “repeal and replace” bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the month. In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda. One of the immediate casualties is the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP covers just under 9 million children in low- and moderate-income families, at a cost of about $15 billion a year…”

Rural Food Insecurity

In some rural counties, hunger is rising, but food donations aren’t, By Pam Fessler, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities.  Food banks that serve these areas are also feeling the squeeze, as surplus food supplies dwindle but the lines of people seeking help remain long…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Report: NJ kids have more access to health care, early education options, By Kelly Kultys, May 22, 2017, Burlington County Times: “Children in New Jersey were better off in terms of access to health care, school enrollment and family economics, according to the 2017 NJ Kids Count report from the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. The report found the percentage of uninsured children was down, while incomes and enrollment were up. But it also raised concerns about disparities in the juvenile justice system and the number of children being treated for substance abuse…”
  • N.J. kids are doing better these days, and Obamacare is one big reason, By Susan K. Livio, May 22, 2017, NJ.com: “Kids Count, the annual report measuring the health, safety and well-being of New Jersey’s 2 million children, shows there is cause for optimism as fewer children live with unemployed parents, lack insurance and and rely on welfare. And one big reason, authors say, is that kids have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare…”

US State Unemployment

  • Unemployment rates hit record lows in 3 states, By Josh Boak (AP), May 19, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Solid hiring nationwide led unemployment rates to touch record lows in three U.S. states last month. Unemployment rates declined in 10 states in April, increased in one — Massachusetts — and held relatively stable in the other 39, the Labor Department said Friday. A significant number of the job gains occurred in nine states, led by Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana was the only state to see a significant decrease in jobs last month…”
  • 9 years after recession began, some states still unrecovered, By Jeff Amy (AP), May 18, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession. That’s true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. Unlike states that have long since sprinted ahead, Mississippi is struggling with slow economic growth and slipping population in a place that’s rarely at peak economic health…”

News & Observer Series on Low-income Students in Gifted Classes

Counted Out, series homepage, News & Observer: “North Carolina’s public schools are failing to help thousands of low-income children who have shown they are smart enough to handle advanced work. An unprecedented analysis of seven years of state data shows that a far larger proportion of more affluent students are selected for gifted classes over their low-income peers with the same end-of-grade test scores…”

States and Medicaid Coverage

  • Medicaid is helping poor patients get needed care, even as Republicans push to cut it, study finds, By Noam N. Levey, May 17, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “As the Trump administration and congressional Republicans push for sweeping cuts to the Medicaid safety net, a study released Wednesday provides new evidence the program is significantly improving poor Americans’ access to vital medical care. Low-income patients in Arkansas and Kentucky, two states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are getting check-ups more regularly and delaying care because of cost less frequently…”
  • Nebraska’s new Medicaid managed care system blamed for problems with billing and getting approval for care, By Martha Stoddard, May 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska’s new system for administering the bulk of its Medicaid program has gotten off to a rocky start. Nearly five months after its launch, the system has left behavioral health and home health providers fuming over unpaid claims and frustrated about getting care authorized for patients…”
  • Medicaid spending caps in Republican proposal would cut coverage for Florida children, By Daniel Chang, May 18, 2017, Miami Herald: “Low-income children in Florida gained Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act despite the state’s refusal to expand eligibility for the public health insurance program, according to a study published Wednesday by the non-partisan Urban Institute, a health policy think tank. But those gains may end if the American Health Care Act — the Republican-sponsored bill to repeal and replace the health law known as Obamacare — creates spending caps for Medicaid, according to the consulting firm Avalere Health in a separate report this week…”
  • Big health gains in Medicaid expansion states elude Texas’ poor, By Jenny Deam, May 18, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “The health of Texas’ poor is worse – at times significantly so – than those who live in two Southern states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A report Wednesday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, examined four years of medical outcomes in Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky and found that health measurements in the latter two states, both of which expanded Medicaid, dramatically improved in nearly all categories…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

Progress reducing U.S. uninsured rate comes to a halt, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), May 16, 2017, Seattle Times: “Five years of progress reducing the number of Americans without health insurance has come to a halt, according to a government report out Tuesday. More than a factoid, it shows the stakes in the Republican drive to roll back the Affordable Care Act. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 28.6 million people were uninsured in 2016, unchanged from 2015. It was the first year since passage of the health care overhaul in 2010 that the number of uninsured did not budge…”

Public Housing – Cairo, IL

Their public housing at the end of its life, residents ask: What now?, By Monica Davey, May 17, 2017, New York Times: “Residents hear mice rustling in the walls at night. Some occupants leave ovens on in the winter, their doors perched open, because furnaces fail. Ceilings droop from water damage, mold creeps across walls, and roaches scramble out of refrigerators. So when federal authorities finally deemed two public housing developments here in the southernmost tip of Illinois unacceptable and uninhabitable, it felt like vindication of what residents had been saying for ages. But then came the solution: an order that everyone must vacate…”

Medicaid Spending to School Districts

Schools brace for impact if Congress cuts Medicaid spending, By Sally Ho and Carolyn Thompson (AP), May 14, 2017, Arizona Daily Star: “For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health-care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms. Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base…”

Eviction – Baltimore, MD

  • Dismissed: Low-income renters in Baltimore become migrants in their own city, By Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella, May 6, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “When the furnace in their West Baltimore rowhouse broke last winter, Denise and Marvin Jones did what they could to keep their family warm — and together. They filed a complaint against their landlord. They boiled pots of water and ran space heaters. They sent their four children to bed bundled in coats, hats and gloves. ‘I didn’t want to separate them,’ Denise said, crying. But ‘it was so cold.’ The family split up in January, fanning out to the heated homes of different relatives across the city even as they continued to pay the $950 monthly rent at their own cold home. They sometimes checked in to motels just to spend a few nights together. But as temperatures rose with the coming of spring, so did their spirits. After five months, their complaint was advancing in Baltimore District Court. And Marvin had located a new home…”
  • Evictions perpetuate Baltimore’s cycle of poverty, Editorial, May 8, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “Evictions are devastating for the families who go through them. The process is all-consuming. Low-income tenants spend hours going to court to plead their cases or begging family, friends and social service agencies for help. They lose time at work, and an already precarious financial situation becomes worse. They live in anxiety about every knock on the door, wondering whether it might be a property agent or sheriff’s deputies ready to dump all their belongings onto the street. And if the worst comes, they may find themselves suddenly homeless, struggling to keep the family together, desperate to provide any sense of normalcy for their children as they are torn away from neighborhoods and schools…”

Wage Theft – Ohio

Wage theft report finds many in Ohio paid below minimum wage, By Olivera Perkins, May 11, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio ranked second among large states for the share of workers whose employers failed to pay them minimum wage, according to a recently released report. In Ohio, 5.5 percent of workers experienced this type of ‘wage theft,’ according to the analysis released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.15 an hour…”

States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”

Job Searching and the Unemployed – Illinois

More jobless Illinoisans are giving up the job search, study finds, By Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 10, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Though people often focus on unemployment rates as a measure of economic health, another telling data point is how many people are so discouraged with the job search that they’re dropping out of the labor force altogether. A newly released survey found good news: Fewer unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. But that’s not the case in Illinois, where more people seem to be throwing up their hands…”

Public Defender System – Louisiana

Class-action status sought for Louisiana indigent defense lawsuit, By Ken Daley, May 4, 2017, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Civil rights advocates hoping to force a rebuild of Louisiana’s indigent defense system on Thursday (May 4) sought class-action status for a lawsuit filed in February against Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state’s Public Defender Board. The motion for class certification argues that Louisiana has allowed the system meant to provide constitutionally mandated legal aid for poor criminal defendants to buckle under excessive caseloads, inadequate staffing and deficient funding mechanisms. Supporters said that if the class action request is certified, rulings in the case would apply to nearly 20,000 indigent defendants in the state, likely making it the largest indigent-defense case of its kind…”

Medicaid and Maternity Care – Alabama

Some Medicaid mothers must wait weeks, months before first doctor’s visit, By Anna Claire Vollers, May 8, 2017, AL.com: “When Katie Silvia learned she was pregnant in November 2016, her first call wasn’t to her obstetrician – it was to the Alabama Medicaid office. Her husband had received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama that his insurance, a Blue Cross plan purchased through the health exchange, was not going to cover her pregnancy because their income level qualified her for pregnancy Medicaid. But according to doctors and patients, Alabama’s complex maternity Medicaid process can mean some moms don’t get their first OBGYN appointment until they’re well into their second trimester, 13 or more weeks into their pregnancies…”

Affordable Housing

  • Affordable housing program costs more, shelters fewer, By Laura Sullivan, May 9, 2017, National Public Radio: “On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city. After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water…”
  • Section 8 vouchers help the poor — but only if housing is available, By Laura Sullivan, May 10, 2017, National Public Radio: “Farryn Giles and her 6-year-old son Isaiah have been living in a crumbling apartment building with her ex-husband, who’s letting her stay for a couple months. Pigeons have infested the walls of the courtyard. Before she lived here, she was sleeping on and off in her car. But Giles, 26, says she recently felt like she hit the jackpot. She was awarded a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, which will pay the difference between her rent and what she can afford…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal home heating assistance program is safe, for now, Associated Press, May 8, 2017, CBS News: “The federal program that helps low-income people heat their homes in the winter and, in some areas, cool them in the summer has been saved from elimination in the just-passed federal budget. While that’s good news for people who used the program in the just-finished heating season, next year’s funding will have to be negotiated by Congress as part of next year’s federal spending…”

April 2017 US Unemployment Rate

  • Economy adds strong 211,000 jobs, unemployment at 10-year low, By Paul Davidson, May 5, 2017, USA Today: “The labor market bounced back in April amid milder weather as employers added 211,000 jobs, providing evidence that weakness the prior month was a blip that likely won’t keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates in June. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell from 4.5% to 4.4%, a new 10-year low, the Labor Department said Friday…”
  • Unemployment rate drops to lowest level in a decade in April as economy adds 211,000 jobs, By Ana Swanson, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “The U.S. job market rebounded strongly last month and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level seen in a decade, government data released Friday morning showed, calming fears that had bubbled up in the past month about the state of the economy…”