State Medicaid Programs

  • Criticizing Kansas, feds deny extension of KanCare privatized Medicaid program, By Bryan Lowry and Hunter Woodall, January 19, 2017, Kansas City Star: “Federal officials have rejected Kansas’ request to extend its privatized Medicaid program, KanCare, saying it has failed to meet federal standards and risked the health and safety of enrollees. Kansas is ‘substantively out of compliance with Federal statutes and regulations, as well as its Medicaid State Plan’ based on a review by federal investigators in October, according to a letter sent to the state Jan. 13 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services…”
  • GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out, By Thomas Beaumont (AP), January 19, 2017, Seattle Times: “Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law now have their hands out in hopes the GOP-controlled Congress comes up with a new formula to provide insurance for low-income Americans.  The other GOP governors, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who agreed to expand state-run services in exchange for federal help — more than a dozen out of the 31 states — are adamant that Congress maintain the financing that has allowed them to add millions of low-income people to the health insurance rolls…”

Health Insurance Coverage

Poor, chronically sick, unemployed most likely to lose coverage if ACA repealed, study finds, By Gillian Mohney and Dr. Darien Sutton-Ramsey, January 20, 2017, ABC News: “With Republican lawmakers promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act under the new administration, researchers have been working to understand how people who gained coverage after the ACA’s passage will be affected.  Those most at risk for losing coverage are more likely to be poor, have a chronic illness or be unemployed, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association…”

Children of Incarcerated Parents

How mass incarceration pushes black children further behind in school, By Melinda D. Anderson, January 16, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the summer of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the closing remarks at the March on Washington. More than 200,000 people gathered to cast a national spotlight on and mobilize resistance to Jim Crow, racist laws and policies that disenfranchised black Americans and mandated segregated housing, schools, and employment. Today, more than 50 years later, remnants of Jim Crow segregation persist in the form of mass incarceration—the imprisonment of millions of Americans, overwhelmingly and disproportionately black adults, in local, state, and federal prisons…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

Housing Subsidies – Baltimore, MD

Housing program used to break up high-poverty areas in Baltimore to stop taking applicants, By Yvonne Wenger, January 12, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “The officials who run a court-ordered program that helps families move from Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to areas with low crime and high-performing schools are planning to stop taking new applicants.  Hundreds of people sign up each month for the rental subsidies and counseling, which are offered as a condition of a landmark federal fair-housing lawsuit in Baltimore…”

Homelessness in New York City

Mayor de Blasio scrambles to curb homelessness after years of not keeping pace, By J. David Goodman and Nikita Stewart, January 13, 2017, New York Times: “During Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first year in office, the Department of Homeless Services created 16 new shelters across New York City to house more than a thousand families and hundreds of single adults.  Then, for eight months, the city stopped opening shelters. With the number of people falling into homelessness still rising and with shelter beds running short, the city instead turned to what was supposed to be a stopgap: hotels…”

Kids Count Report – New Mexico

  • Kids Count report is a mixed bag for New Mexico, By Rick Nathanson, January 17, 2016, Albuquerque Journal: “The annual New Mexico Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday shows the most improvement in measures of children’s health, but little improvement in measures of family economic well-being.  The data book, a project of New Mexico Voices for Children, showed declines in the rate of babies with low birth weight, in children without health insurance, and in teens abusing alcohol and drugs. The teen birth rate has also declined, following a similar national trend…”
  • Despite upticks, N.M. still tough for kids, By Robert Nott, January 17, 2017, Santa Fe New Mexican: “Nearly all New Mexico children have health care insurance, and sharply fewer of the state’s teenagers are abusing drugs and alcohol, a new report says. Overall, however, New Mexico remains a tough place for kids…”

Earnings Gap by Education Level

Pay gap between college grads and everyone else at a record, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), January 12, 2017, Star Tribune: “Americans with no more than a high school diploma have fallen so far behind college graduates in their economic lives that the earnings gap between college grads and everyone else has reached its widest point on record.  The growing disparity has become a source of frustration for millions of Americans worried that they — and their children — are losing economic ground…”

Minimum Wage

  • What will a higher minimum wage do? Two new studies have different ideas, By Natalie Kitroeff, January 11, 2107, Los Angeles Times: “The federal government set its first minimum wage, at 25 cents an hour, in 1938. Since then, liberals have cheered attempts to raise the minimum as blows against worker exploitation, while businesses lament that the hikes will kill jobs.  But nearly 80 years later, economists still aren’t sure how a higher minimum wage actually affects companies and their customers…”
  • Higher minimum wage may have losers, By Noam Scheiber, January 10, 2017, New York Times: “A growing number of economists have found that many cities and states have considerable room to raise the minimum wage before employers meaningfully cut back on hiring.  But that conclusion may gloss over some significant responses to minimum-wage increases by individual employers, according to two new studies. And those reactions may, in turn, raise questions about the effectiveness of the minimum wage in helping certain workers…”

SNAP Program and Online Shopping

Food stamp recipients will soon be able to order groceries online, By Maura Judkis, January 10, 2017, Washington Post: “Beginning this summer, some Americans who receive food assistance will have a new way to feed their families. The Agriculture Department said that it will test a program that allows people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP, known as food stamps — to order groceries online through various retailers. The ability to shop online could bring healthful food into food deserts, low-income areas where fresh food is not readily available…”

Low-Income Tax Refunds

IRS to delay tax refunds for millions of low-income families, January 11, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “The IRS is delaying tax refunds for more than 40 million low-income families this year as the agency steps up efforts to fight identity theft and fraud.  The delays will affect families claiming the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. These tax breaks are geared to benefit the working poor, and many families claim both…”

Poverty and Child Development

The toll poverty takes on children’s mental health, By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, January 10, 2017, CBS News: “Growing up in poverty exposes children to greater levels of stress, which can lead to psychological problems later in life, a new study suggests.  Researchers at Cornell University reported that kids who grow up poor are more likely to have reduced short-term spatial memory. The study also reported that such kids seem to be more prone to antisocial and aggressive behavior, such as bullying.  Poor children are also more likely than kids from middle-income homes to feel powerless, the study authors suggested…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Wisconsin

  • 21K employed through FoodShare jobs program, 64K lost benefits, By Molly Beck, January 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “About 21,000 Wisconsin residents using food stamps have gained employment through a state program designed to connect recipients with jobs, Gov. Scott Walker announced during his annual State of the State address Tuesday.  That’s the number of FoodShare recipients who have gotten jobs through the state program that was created when lawmakers reinstated a requirement that able-bodied adults without children at home be employed in order to keep FoodShare benefits…”
  • Official: Food stamp drug tests would violate federal law, By Jason Stein, January 11, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to drug test some food stamp recipients violates federal law and cannot proceed without an act of Congress, a top appointee in the Obama administration says.  Wisconsin’s Republican governor has called on President-elect Donald Trump to act immediately on taking office to allow the Walker administration to start testing able-bodied recipients of Wisconsin’s Food Share program…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

  • Kids Count report: Many area children living in poverty, By Liz Freeman, January 8, 2017, News-Press: “Children in Southwest Florida are falling behind compared to the health and well-being of children around the state, a report released today shows. More children in Collier and Lee counties live in poverty and rely on food stamps, are uninsured and overweight, and have gone through maltreatment dispositions compared to their counterparts statewide, according to a Florida Kids Count report…”
  • Report highlights racial disparities among Jacksonville’s children in poverty, By Tessa Duvall, January 9, 2017, Florida Times-Union: “A report that looks at children’s quality of life in Florida paints a bleak economic picture for Duval County’s black children.  Florida Kids Count, released Monday, shows that black children represent a much larger percentage of poor children than their white and Hispanic peers…”

Criminalization of Homelessness

Rights battles emerge in cities where homelessness can be a crime, By Jack Healy, January 9, 2017, New York Times: “Condos and townhouses are rising beside the weedy lots here where Randy Russell once pitched a tent and unrolled a sleeping bag, clustering with other homeless people in camps that were a small haven to him, but an illegal danger in the eyes of city officials.  Living on the streets throws a million problems your way, but finding a place to sleep tops the list. About 32 percent of homeless people have no shelter, according to the federal government, and on Nov. 28, Mr. Russell, 56, was among them. He was sitting in an encampment just north of downtown when the police and city workers arrived to clear it away. A police officer handed Mr. Russell a citation…”

Medicaid Expansion – Michigan

  • Snyder fights for Medicaid plan in Obamacare repeal, By Jonathan Oosting, January 4, 2017, Detroit News: “Gov. Rick Snyder wants Republican President-elect Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress to spare Michigan’s unique form of Medicaid expansion as they consider dismantling the Affordable Care Act, calling it a ‘successful’ program that could serve as a national model.  Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal and replace ‘Obamacare’ but has not made clear whether he wants to pull back state funding for expanded Medicaid eligibility. It is a key but costly provision of the 2010 law that has allowed millions of low-income residents to qualify for government-paid health care coverage…”
  • U-M study shows benefits of Michigan expanding Medicaid, By Kathleen Gray, January 4, 2017, Detroit Free Press: “Even though the state’s bills for the expansion of Medicaid to more than 640,000 low-income Michiganders is growing from $152 million this year to $399 million in 2021, the economic benefit of providing the health care will more than make up for the cost to the state, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Michigan…”

Child Care Subsidies – California

For some workers, pay raise comes with loss of cheap child care, By Natalie Kitroeff, January 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When the minimum wage in California rose to $10.50 an hour Jan. 1, more than a million people got a raise. But for an untold number of families across the state, that pay bump could price them out of child care.  This year, for the first time, two parents working full time at minimum wage jobs, with one child, will be considered too well off to qualify for state subsidies for day care and preschool. It’s been 10 years since the state set the threshold for who is poor enough to get the benefit, which is pegged to 2005 income levels…”

Housing Conditions and Health

  • Philly study finds house calls could help asthma patients living in poverty, By Stacey Burling, January 3, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Tyra Bryant-Stephens, a doctor who is medical director of the Community Asthma Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thinks doctors and researchers need to think more about an often unseen factor in patients’ asthma: their housing.  When doctors see poor patients in clinics, she said, they may not have time to ask about their living conditions.  Even if they did, patients might be too embarrassed to tell them…”
  • Seller-financed deals are putting poor people in lead-tainted homes, By Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein, December 26, 2016, New York Times: “A year after Tiffany Bennett moved into a two-story red brick house at 524 Loudon Avenue here, she received alarming news.  Two children, both younger than 6, for whom Ms. Bennett was guardian, were found to have dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Lead paint throughout the nearly 100-year-old home had poisoned them.  Who was responsible for the dangerous conditions in the home?  Baltimore health officials say it was an out-of-state investment company that entered into a rent-to-own lease with the unemployed Ms. Bennett to take the home in 2014 ‘as is’ — chipping, peeling lead paint and all.  Ms. Bennett, 46, and the children moved out, but they should never have been in the house at all. City officials had declared the house ‘unfit for human habitation’ in 2013…”

December 2016 US Unemployment Rate

U.S. economy creates a modest 156,000 jobs in December, By Don Lee, January 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Job growth slowed at the end of last year while the unemployment rate ticked higher — signs that the tight labor market is resulting in diminished hiring even as it is pushing wages higher. The U.S. economy added 156,000 net new jobs last month, down from an upwardly revised 204,000 created in November, the Labor Department said Friday…”

Fuel Poverty – England

More than 2.3m families living in fuel poverty in England, By Jessica Elgot, December 30, 2016, The Guardian: “More than 2.3 million families are living in fuel poverty in England – the equivalent of 10% of households, according to government statistics. Almost 60,000 households in Birmingham alone cannot afford to heat their homes. The figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy show the West Midlands city is worst affected, with Leeds, Cornwall, Manchester and Liverpool also in the top five local authorities where households face ‘eat or heat’ choices in winter…”