Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts would hit rural patients hard, By Bram Sable-Smith, June 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding…”
  • G.O.P. health plan is really a rollback of Medicaid, By Margot Sanger-Katz, June 20, 2017, New York Times: “Tucked inside the Republican bill to replace Obamacare is a plan to impose a radical diet on a 52-year-old program that insures nearly one in five Americans. The bill, of course, would modify changes to the health system brought by the Affordable Care Act. But it would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke…”
  • Republicans’ Medicaid rollback collides with opioid epidemic, By Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar (AP), June 20, 2017, ABC News: “The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama’s health care law is colliding with America’s opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties…”
  • How states like Kansas punish the poor for being both too poor and not poor enough, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 19, 2017, Washington Post: “Obamacare was designed to make it easier for poor Americans to buy insurance. In many states, though, the law has left a hole where less needy households can receive benefits, while millions of Americans living in poverty cannot. They are, in effect, too poor to get help…”
  • In expanding Medicaid, Utah wants to make some enrollees work and cap their lifetime coverage, By Alex Stuckey, June 20, 2017, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah health officials are proposing lifetime limits and work requirements for childless adults who would gain coverage under a Medicaid expansion plan, hoping the changes will help persuade the federal government to approve it…”
  • With Medicaid under the gun, new study highlights program’s successes in Cheshire County, By Ethan DeWitt, June 23, 2017, Keene Sentinel: “Amid fierce national clashes over the future of health care, and a new Republican bill unveiled Thursday, one federal program has proven a particular emotional flash point: Medicaid. Efforts to pare back the program, which provides coverage to low-income adults and children, have drawn alarm from Democrats and some Republican senators representing rural states…”

Achievement Gap

  • Where poor students are top of the class, By Lauren Camera, June 20, 2017, US News: “Children in schools dotting the districts along the Rio Grande River in Texas are overwhelmingly poor and Hispanic, and many of them are still learning English – all indicators associated with low academic achievement. But in a handful of cities there, students are bucking that assumption by performing just as well, and in some cases better, than their wealthier peers…”
  • Is California’s investment in needy students paying off? Few signs indicate achievement gap is closing, By Jessica Calefati, June 22, 2017, KQED: “California’s new system for funding public education has pumped tens of billions of extra dollars into struggling schools, but there’s little evidence yet that the investment is helping the most disadvantaged students. A CALmatters analysis of the biggest districts with the greatest clusters of needy children found limited success with the policy’s goal: to close the achievement gap between these students and their more privileged peers. Instead, results in most of those places show the gap is growing…”

Affordable Housing – Buffalo, NY

The other side of Buffalo’s rental boom? Not enough low-income apartments, By Susan Schulman, June 19, 2017, Buffalo News: “When a nonprofit housing agency recently built a low-income apartment complex on Jefferson Avenue, the 30 apartments were rented – sight unseen – before the building was completed. ‘They were rented up before I could show an apartment, before there was a certificate of occupancy,’ said Michael Riegel, president of Belmont Shelter, the city’s premier low-income housing assistance agency. That was the first time in his 30 years in the nonprofit housing business that he’s experienced such a demand, Riegel said…”

Minimum Wage – Seattle, WA

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs, By Janet I. Tu, June 20, 2017, Seattle Times: “Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, ‘even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,’ according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich…”

Income-Based Water Bills – Philadelphia, PA

For low-income residents, Philadelphia unveiling income-based water bills, By Tricia L. Nadolny, June 19, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Philadelphia Water Department next month will launch a low-income assistance program that offers payments starting at $12 per month and is open even to those who haven’t fallen behind on their bills. For those who have, that debt would be frozen indefinitely…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Federal budget cutters take aim at food stamps, By Jessica Wehrman, June 18, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s budget would slash the federal food-assistance program by 25 percent, saddling states such as Ohio with the cost of feeding the hungriest among them. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, dates to 1964 — pilot programs existed before then — and, to hear advocates tell it, has been one of the nation’s most effective anti-hunger programs…”

2017 Kids Count Data Book

  • Kentucky children make ‘undeniable’ health care gains, but advocates fear setback, By Deborah Yetter, June 13, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As a young mom, Savannah Wallace of Louisville knows the value of health care coverage for her baby boy. ‘It’s peace of mind,’ she said, holding 4-month-old William on her lap during a recent visit to the Family Health Center Iroquois clinic for a checkup. ‘You don’t have to worry where the money’s going to come from. He gets the health care he needs…'”
  • Tennessee moves to 35th for kids’ health and happiness, By Jason Gonzales, June 12, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee’s push to increase the number of students who attend college has helped increase the state’s standing on a national report that looks at the well-being of children…”
  • 2017 Kids Count report on Nevada is a mixed bag, By Amber Corbin, June 13, 2017, Las Vegas Sun: “The economic conditions of Nevada households with children continue to improve following the Great Recession, but the overall well-being of kids still lags far below the national average, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Southwestern states rank among lowest in child well-being, By Susan Montoya Bryan (AP), June 13, 2017, US News: “Three Southwestern states are ranked near the bottom when it comes to child well-being, with New Mexico the lowest among its neighbors. The annual Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks New Mexico 49th, ahead of only Mississippi. Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona fill in the rest of the five lowest rankings…”
  • Florida child poverty rate doesn’t budge, By Liz Freeman, June 13, 2017, Naples Daily News: “Florida children are not escaping poverty or making significant strides in school, two findings for why the state ranks 40th in overall child well-being for the second year in a row, according to a national report…”
  • D.C. has one of the highest rates of children with health insurance, report says, By Michael Alison Chandler, June 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The District has one of the highest rates of health-insured children, with 98 percent covered, according to the latest Kids Count annual survey released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Georgia children’s health factors improving but among U.S.’ lowest, By Ariel Hart, June 14, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia’s children rank among the nation’s least healthy, according to an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In only seven other states does a greater portion of the children lack health insurance. In only five other states are more babies born underweight. Georgia also ranked worse than the national average in several other categories related to children’s health and well-being, including deaths of minors…”
  • Report puts NC in the bottom half of the U.S. for child well-being, By Beth Walton, June 13, 2017, Asheville Citizen-Times: “A national group put North Carolina in the bottom half of U.S. states for child well-being, something local advocates say needs to change. The annual Kids Count Data book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Florida, like Trump, considered saving money by cutting food stamps, By Katishi Maake, June 6, 2017, Charlotte Observer: “It’s not just President Donald Trump trying to cut back on food stamps. Months before Trump submitted a federal budget that would ax $193 billion from the benefits program, Florida lawmakers earlier this year tried – and failed – to cut money from the state’s share of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, pushing legislation that would have cut off all but the neediest families…”
  • ‘I’ve got to make $15 stretch’: Food stamp cuts hit Alabama’s Black Belt hard, By Connor Sheets, June 10, 2017, AL.com: “Ricky Minor receives $16 worth of food stamps every month. The 54-year-old, who lives in Aliceville, a small Pickens County town in Alabama’s impoverished Black Belt region, is certified as 100 percent disabled, unable to work because he has lung cancer. ‘If you buy the chicken and the bread with the $16, you don’t have enough to get the grease to cook it,’ he said Thursday…”
  • Food stamps still heavily used in Minnesota, raising worry over Trump’s proposed cuts to program, By Maya Rao, June 15, 2017, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Demand for food stamps in Minnesota rose dramatically in the past decade, and remains high even as the economy improved in recent years. That has anti-hunger advocates in the state preparing to fight cuts in federal food assistance proposed by the Trump administration…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • Charity care dips at Wisconsin hospitals, with more people insured; trend could end with Obamacare repeal, By David Wahlberg, June 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Hospitals in Madison and throughout Wisconsin have provided less charity care in recent years as more people have gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act, with some hospitals directing the savings to disease prevention. That could change if Congress overturns the law, known as Obamacare, and increases the ranks of the uninsured. And if Medicare payment cuts that helped pay for the law’s expanded coverage also remain, hospitals could end up shifting more costs to people with private insurance, officials say…”
  • What the Obamacare overhaul could mean for Texas’ terrible maternal mortality rate, By Katie Leslie, June 12, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas officials were already investigating why an alarming number of Lone Star women are dying from pregnancy-related complications when a study last year ranked the state’s maternal mortality rate as the nation’s worst. That’s why many doctors and health care advocates are watching Republican-led negotiations in Washington over replacing the Affordable Care Act, with some worried about what the changes could mean for Texas’ maternal health crisis…”
  • Nevada may become first state to offer Medicaid to all, regardless of income, By Alison Kodjak, June 13, 2017, National Public Radio: “Nevadans will find out this week whether their state will become the first in the country to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor and disabled…”
  • In Texas, people with erratic incomes risk being cut off from Medicaid, By Shefali Luthra, June 14, 2017, Iowa Public Radio: “Worries about whether her children can still get the health care they need are never far from Dawn Poole’s mind. It’s a constant, underlying concern. Much of her anxiety is a direct result of living in Texas. To qualify for Medicaid in the state, most children must come from families with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2017, that’s $33,948 for a family of four. Texas also has one of the country’s strictest Medicaid verification systems: It runs regular checks on family finances after children are enrolled to make sure they continue to qualify…”

Staffing at High-Poverty Schools

Teachers are bailing out of high-poverty schools. Some say that needs to change, By T. Keung Hui, June 16, 2017, News & Observer: “By the time most Wake County students return to class in August, a fifth of their teachers will likely have either changed schools in Wake or left the school district entirely. The annual turnover among Wake’s 10,000 teachers creates challenges in which beginning teachers get more lower-scoring students than experienced educators do – and high-poverty schools have higher teacher turnover. Now school leaders want to re-examine how teachers are assigned and allowed to transfer between schools…”

Free Tuition Plan – Michigan

University of Michigan to offer free tuition to some in-state students, By David Jesse, June 15, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “Sitting in the Michigan Union, doing some studying before heading off to her retail job in downtown Ann Arbor, Kate Meyers was unaware that her financial plans for the next several years had just changed. Meyer, 20, of Grand Rapids, is about to get her University of Michigan tuition paid for. She is one of thousands of current students and a lot more future students who won’t have to pay tuition to attend the Ann Arbor school, thanks to the new Go Blue Guarantee unveiled by the school Thursday and approved by the board…”

Bail System – Illinois

Rauner signs law to change rules for paying cash to get out of jail, By Kim Geiger, June 9, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Low-level offenders who have been arrested and can’t come up with enough money to get out of jail can get a rehearing of their bail amount, under a plan signed into law Friday by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner…”

Eviction in Southern California

Eviction decline is no solace for thousands of renters losing their homes, By Jeff Collins, May 28, 2017, Orange County Register: “Joann Nieves spent the first week after her eviction sleeping in her Chevy pickup with her three young sons. ‘It was kind of uncomfortable,’ said Jacob, 11, her oldest. To her youngest, 6-year-old Anthony, ‘it was scary.’ Things have improved since then. Nieves, 36, now sleeps on an air mattress on the living room floor of her boyfriend’s mom’s house in Santa Ana, while her sons share a bed in one of the bedrooms…”

Affordable Housing

Here’s how much you would need to afford rent in your state, By Tracy Jan, June 8, 2017, Washington Post: “There is nowhere in this country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Thursday documenting the gap between wages and the cost of rental housing. Downsizing to a one-bedroom will only get you so far on minimum wage. Such housing is affordable in only 12 counties located in Arizona, Oregon and Washington states, according to the report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin submits request to drug test Medicaid applicants, By Scott Bauer (AP), June 7, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Wisconsin submitted a federal request Wednesday to become the first state in the country to drug test applicants for Medicaid health benefits. Republican Gov. Scott Walker expects President Donald Trump’s administration to approve the waiver, which would also impose new requirements on able-bodied, childless adults receiving Medicaid in the state. The request comes as Walker, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, prepares for a likely re-election bid…”

Public Defender Fees – Los Angeles

L.A. County ends public defender ‘registration fee’, By Nina Agrawal, June 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to eliminate the $50 ‘registration fee’ that the public defender’s office and other court-appointed counsel may charge defendants before providing them with legal services…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Proposed elimination of LIHEAP funding elicits concern, By David Blanchette, June 7, 2017, State Journal-Register: “President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would eliminate federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a 40-year-old grant program that helps low-income households pay their utility bills and avoid shutoffs during winter cold or summer heat. If approved by Congress, the move could affect 6.7 million American families, including more than 330,000 in Illinois…”

Medicaid Enrollment in Rural Areas

  • Trump’s base in rural America could be disproportionately hurt by Medicaid cuts, By Jose A. DelReal, June 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion disproportionately benefited rural Americans over their urban counterparts, according to a new report, and President Trump’s proposed cuts to the program could negatively affect millions of them who have come to rely on it for coverage…”
  • GOP Medicaid cuts hit rural U.S. hardest, report finds, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Rural America carried President Donald Trump to his election win in November. Trump Country it might be, but rural areas and small towns also make up Medicaid Country, those parts of the United States where low-income children and families are most dependent on the federal-state health insurance program, according to a report released Wednesday…”

State TANF Programs

States with more black people have less generous welfare benefits, study says, By Tracy Jan, June 6, 2017, Washington Post: “How much cash welfare assistance families in poverty receive largely depends on where they live, with welfare eroding in every state except Oregon during the past 20 years, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. The study, released Tuesday, unveils wide racial and geographic disparities in how states distribute cash welfare, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)…”

Rich/Poor Health Disparities

U.S. one of world’s worst on health divide between rich, poor, By Sarah Toy, June 7, 2017, USA Today: “The U.S. has one of the world’s largest health disparities between the rich and poor — behind only Chile and Portugal — and its healthcare system and lack of social supports are to blame, experts say. Researchers examining surveys on health and income from people in 32 countries found poor Americans reported worse health than rich U.S. residents in significant numbers…”