Medicaid Expansion for Children – Texas, Florida

Texas and Florida did expand Medicaid — for kids, By Phil Galewitz, September 29, 2014, USA Today: “Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year — for school-age children. Those states were among 21 — including some big Democrat-led states, such as California — that were required to widen Medicaid eligibility for children between the ages of 6 and 18 by 2014. That little-known provision of the health law was one factor helping 1.5 million kids gain coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a survey of a dozen states by Kaiser Health News…”

Infant Mortality

Our infant mortality rate is a national embarrassment, By Christopher Ingraham, September 29, 2014, Washington Post: “The United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan. That same American baby is about twice as likely to die in her first year as a Spanish or Korean one. Despite healthcare spending levels that are significantly higher than any other country in the world, a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see his first birthday than one born in Hungary, Poland or Slovakia…”

Achievement Gap – Wisconsin

Schools share best practices to close achievement gaps, By Erin Richards and Kelly Meyerhofer, September 25, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “In a move aimed at closing Wisconsin’s persistent achievement gaps — especially between white students and those of color — state Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday announced a set of “what works” strategies collected from schools around the state. But the new report was only part of the message on achievement gaps that Evers wanted to get across in Madison on Thursday during his annual State of Education address. The more controversial part: Evers says Wisconsin’s predominantly white, middle-class teachers need to dramatically change what they’re doing to better help black and Hispanic children succeed…”

Child Support Enforcement

  • How our child support system can push the poor deeper into poverty, By Jeff Guo, September 26, 2014, Washington Post: “In the United States, nearly one in four children are due some sort of child support. But only 62 percent of the money owed is actually paid. To get a sense of who these deadbeat parents are, consider this chart comparing different states…”
  • Locking up parents for not paying child support can be a modern-day ‘debtor’s prison’, By Tins Griego, September 26, 2014, Washington Post: “Dwayne Ferebee, 36, father of four, has been sent to jail four times over the past 12 years on civil contempt charges for failure to pay his court-ordered child support. The first two times, he spent a couple months behind bars until his mom came up with the $3,000 the judge told him he had to pay. The third go-around, he stayed in jail six of the maximum 12-month sentence before he could scrape together the money. The fourth, he had to wait until his fiancée received her tax refund. All told, he spent about a year locked up…”

Hospitals and Medicaid Expansion

  • Hospitals see major drop in charity care, September 24, 2014, The Tennessean: “The number of uninsured patients admitted to hospitals has dropped markedly this year, reducing charity care and bad debt cases, particularly in states that have expanded Medicaid coverage under the new federal health care law, a government report released Wednesday found. The report from the Department of Health and Human Services said hospitals in states that have taken advantage of new Medicaid eligibility levels have seen uninsured admissions fall by about 30 percent. The report estimated that the cost of uncompensated hospital care will be $5.7 billion lower in 2014…”
  • Affordable Care Act reduces costs for hospitals, report says, By Robert Pear, September 24, 2014, New York Times: “The Obama administration increased the pressure on states to expand Medicaid on Wednesday, citing new evidence that hospitals reap financial benefits and gain more paying customers when states broaden eligibility. In states that have expanded Medicaid, the White House said, hospitals are seeing substantial reductions in ‘uncompensated care’ as more patients have Medicaid coverage and fewer are uninsured…”

Disability and Poverty

  • Disability makes poverty likelier than ever: report, By Olivia Carville, September 25, 2014, Toronto Star: “Being disabled is increasingly a trigger for poverty and hunger, according to a new report profiling food bank clients across the GTA. The percentage of disabled people lining up at food banks has almost doubled since 2005, the Daily Bread Food Bank’s Who’s Hungry report states. Disability beneficiaries receive so little money from Ontario’s social welfare programs they are forced to live in poverty, Daily Bread executive director Gail Nyberg said…”
  • People with disability ‘twice as likely to experience poverty’ – charity, By Geraldine Gittens, September 24, 2014, Irish Independent: “People with a disability are twice as likely to experience poverty due to the extra costs they incur, a charity has warned. There is ‘substantial evidence’ that the additional costs of having a disability can place a household ‘at significant risk of poverty and deprivation’, according to new research acquired by Inclusion Ireland…”

Deep Poverty – Philadelphia

Philadelphia rates highest among top 10 cities for deep poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, September 24, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Already the poorest big city in America, Philadelphia also has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.2 percent, or nearly 185,000 people, including about 60,000 children. That’s almost twice the U.S. deep-poverty rate of 6.3 percent. Camden’s deep-poverty rate of 20 percent is more than three times the national mark, but its population is a fraction of Philadelphia’s…”

Income Gap by Age – Canada

  • Income gap grows between young and old: Report, By Dana Flavelle, September 23, 2014, Toronto Star: “Canada’s income gap is growing — not just between rich and poor, but between young and old, a report by the Conference Board of Canada has found. Older Canadians now earn 64 per cent more after tax than younger workers. That’s up from a 47 per cent gap nearly three decades ago, the study released Tuesday found. The report, called The Bucks Stop Here: Trends in Income Inequality between Generations, confirms what author David Stewart-Patterson says he suspected…”
  • Age, not gender, is the new income divide in Canada, study finds, By Lee-Anne Goodman, September 23, 2014, Financial Post: “Age, not gender, is increasingly at the heart of income inequality in Canada, says a new study that warns economic growth and social stability will be at risk if companies don’t start paying better wages. The Conference Board of Canada findings suggest younger workers in Canada are making less money relative to their elders regardless of whether they’re male or female, individuals or couples, and both before and after tax…”

Student Homelessness in the US

  • Record number of homeless children enrolled in US public schools, By Amanda Paulson, September 23, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A record number of homeless students were enrolled in US public schools last year, according to new numbers released Monday by the Department of Education. The data – which most experts say underreport the actual number of homeless children in America – showed that nearly 1.3 million homeless children and teens were enrolled in schools in the 2012-13 school year, an 8 percent increase from the previous school year…”
  • Record number of public school students nationwide are homeless, By Lyndsey Layton, September 22, 2014, Washington Post: “A record number of homeless children and teens were enrolled in public school last year, according to data released Monday by the federal government. Elementary and secondary schools reported that 1.3 million students were homeless during the 2012-2013 year, an 8 percent jump from the prior year. Most of those students — 75 percent — were living doubled up in the home of a friend or a relative, according to the government. Sixteen percent were living in homeless shelters, 6 percent in hotels or motels, and 3 percent had no shelter…”

Medicaid Premiums

Medicaid gives the poor a reason to say no thanks, By Aaron E. Carroll, September 22, 2014, New York Times: “There are generally two ways that people with insurance pay for health care in the United States: premiums, which get you insurance before you receive care, and a variety of cost-sharing mechanisms — like deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance — that come into play when you do receive it. While Medicaid, our safety net program for the poor, has used cost-sharing mechanisms for some time, it has been prohibited from asking people to pay premiums…”

Long-Term Unemployment

  • Rutgers report: Devastating impact of long term joblessness, By Hugh R. Morley, September 22, 2014, The Record: “A Rutgers University study released today provides a grim, detailed picture of the severe impact that long-term unemployment continues to have on the lives of millions of Americans more than five years after the end of the Great Recession. About one-third of the long-term unemployed workers — six months or more — in the study, based on surveys of unemployed and employed Americans across the nation, said they had been ‘devastated’ and suffered a permanent change in their lifestyle by their jobless experience. The study, titled ‘Left behind: The long-term unemployed struggle in an improving economy,’ found that one in five workers laid off in the last five years are still unemployed. And it showed how far long-term jobless workers slip compared with employed workers…”
  • Long-term job hunters still struggle, By Diane Stafford, September 21, 2014, Kansas City Star: “A ‘brutal’ legacy of the Great Recession — diminished living standards — endures for people who suffered, or still suffer, from long-term unemployment. According to a national report released today by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, one in five workers who were laid off during the last five years is still looking for work. While the American economy continues its slow recovery, about 3 million people remain in long-term job searches extending beyond six months. Two million of them have been job hunting for more than a year…”

SNAP Work Requirements

More states enforce food stamp work requirements, By Jake Grovum, September 15, 2014, Stateline: “In the coming months, food stamp work requirements suspended during the Great Recession will be reinstated in at least 17 states, jeopardizing benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans. In those states, work requirements will be back in place for able-bodied adults who are 18 to 50 years old and have no children. It’s possible the requirements will return in more than 17 states, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t yet have a full count, even though states were supposed to report their plans by Labor Day. Hunger advocates worry that fulfilling the work requirements will be a challenge for recipients who live in areas where both work and job training opportunities remain slim. But others note that the suspension of the requirement was always intended to be temporary, and that the economy has improved sufficiently to end it…”

Foster Youth and High School Graduation

Colorado foster care youth less likely to graduate than homeless kids, By Eric Gorski, September 14, 2014, Denver Post: “Each morning before school, Latisha Alvarado Barrington and her younger brother packed an extra set of clothes in their backpacks because they were unsure where they would sleep that night. Often, they would not want to go at all for fear of being taken again. Latisha guarded her identity as a foster child. She was fearful of the stigma as she bounced among a dozen placements, at times because her foster parents thought she was too much to handle. The despair of falling behind caused her to lay her head on the desk and think of school as pointless. Public officials and child advocates in Colorado have long known that students in foster care lag behind academically but have lacked the data to quantify it, a necessary step for finding solutions…”

Child Mortality and Hunger in Developing Nations

  • Despite declines, child mortality and hunger persist in developing nations, U.N. reports, By Rick Gladstone and Somini Sengupta, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “The United Nations on Tuesday reported significant declines in the rates of child mortality and hunger, but said those two scourges of the developing world stubbornly persist in parts of Africa and South Asia despite major health care advances and sharply higher global food production. The trends, detailed in two annual reports by United Nations agencies, were presented before the General Assembly meetings of world leaders, where the Millennium Development Goals, a United Nations list of aspirations to meet the needs of the world’s poorest, are an important discussion theme. While one of those goals — halving the number of hungry people by 2015 — seems within reach, the goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds is years behind, the reports showed…”
  • World making progress against hunger, report finds, but large pockets of undernourished persist, By Daniel Stone, September 16, 2014, National Geographic: “No one on the planet should go hungry. That’s because the world’s farmers grow 700 more calories per person than the World Food Programme’s daily recommended 2,100 calories—an abundance of plants and animals that surpasses the daily needs of the world’s 7.2 billion people. In most places, the challenge is access. Global access to food is improving overall, according to a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released Tuesday, yet challenges in the developing world—from poor infrastructure and political instability to erratic weather and long-term changes in climate—are keeping 805 million people from having enough to eat…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • 42 million people lacked health insurance in 2013, Census Bureau says, By Guy Boulton, September 16, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “An estimated 42 million people, or 13.4% of the population, were without health insurance coverage for all of 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage was much higher for adults between 19 and 64 years old, with 18.5%, or almost one in five, uninsured last year. The estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau will become the baseline to track changes in the number of people who gain health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. The parts of the law that will expand insurance coverage did not kick in until this year and are not reflected in the 2013 data…”
  • Number of Americans without health insurance falls, survey shows, By Sabrina Tavernise, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “Federal researchers reported on Tuesday that the number of Americans without health insurance had declined substantially in the first quarter of this year, the first federal measure of the number of uninsured Americans since the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to millions of people in January. The number of uninsured Americans fell by about 8 percent to 41 million people in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2013, a drop that represented about 3.8 million people and that roughly matched what experts were expecting based on polling by private groups, like Gallup. The survey also measured physical health but found little evidence of change…”

Public Housing Eviction Policies

Public housing safety policy can hit whole family, By Rachelle Blidner (AP), September 15, 2014, ABC News: “Wanda Coleman sits in the New York City public housing apartment where she’s lived for 25 years, surrounded by empty rooms, bare walls and suitcases lined up by the front door. Any day now, she and her teen daughter will be evicted and have no other option than to go to a homeless shelter — partly because of her son’s criminal case…”

State-Level Income Inequality

  • Income inequality last year rose in 15 states, By Niraj Chokshi, September 18, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation became more unequal last year. The Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, was higher, in a statistically significant way, in 2013 than in 2012, rising from 0.476 to 0.481, according to a new Census Bureau report. A score of zero suggests perfect equality where all households have equal income, while a score of one suggests perfect inequality, where one household has it all, and the rest have none. Alaska was the only state to see its Gini Index score decline…”
  • Income inequality is hurting state tax revenue, report says, By Josh Boak (AP), September 15, 2014, Washington Post: “Income inequality is taking a toll on state governments. The widening gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else has been matched by a slowdown in state tax revenue, according to a report being released Monday by Standard & Poor’s. Even as income has accelerated for the affluent, it has barely kept pace with inflation for most other people. That trend can mean a double whammy for states: The wealthy often manage to shield much of their income from taxes. And they tend to spend less of it than others do, thereby limiting sales tax revenue. As the growth of tax revenue has slowed, states have faced tensions over whether to raise taxes or cut spending to balance their budgets as required by law…”
  • Income inequality: States struggle to balance budgets as rich-poor gap widens, By Mark Trumbull, September 15, 2014, Christian Science Monitor: “A widening gap in incomes between the rich and the middle class may be hitting US states where it hurts – making it harder for them to raise the tax revenue they need for balancing their budgets. This conclusion, reached in a report released Monday by Standard & Poor’s, comes at a time when states across America are still struggling to rebuild their revenue streams more than five years after the end of a historically deep recession…”

State Minimum Wage – Oregon

Oregon minimum wage will increase to $9.25 in 2015, By Molly Young, September 17, 2014, The Oregonian: “Oregon’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $9.25 an hour in 2015, state labor officials announced Wednesday. The change arrives amid a national debate over the minimum wage. Starting Jan. 1, Oregon employers must pay workers at least $2 an hour above the federal wage floor. Oregon has the nation’s second-highest minimum wage, behind only Washington. The rates in both states are tied to inflation, so they are adjusted every year in an attempt to keep pace with the cost of living…”

States and Cuts to SNAP

Cuts to food stamps will only hit Wisconsin, 3 other states, By Mary Clare Jalonick (AP), September 17, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting Wisconsin and three other states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found. As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that the GOP had advertised…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2013

  • Poverty rate posts 1st drop since 2006 thanks to more full-time jobs, By Jim Puzzanghera and Don Lee, September 16, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “The nation’s poverty rate dropped last year for the first time since 2006, but the typical household income barely budged in a sign of the continuing sluggish economic recovery from the Great Recession, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. The decline in the poverty rate to 14.5% of the population from 15% in 2012 was driven by an increase in people with full-time jobs last year, Census officials said…”
  • U.S. poverty rate declines slightly, Census Bureau reports, By Robert Pear, September 16, 2014, New York Times: “The poverty rate declined slightly last year for the first time since 2006, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday, but there was no statistically significant change in the number of poor people or in the income level of the typical American household. Over all, the bureau said, 14.5 percent of Americans were living in poverty last year, down from 15 percent in 2012. In addition, it said, the poverty rate for children under 18 declined for the first time since 2000…”
  • Poverty dropped but household incomes didn’t rise, Census Bureau says, By Carol Morello, September 16, 2014, Washington Post: “The nation’s poverty rate dipped slightly last year as more Americans shifted from part-time work to full-time jobs, but wages barely kept up with inflation so there was no significant change to incomes, according to Census Bureau statistics released Tuesday. The poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent in 2012. That was the first decline in the rate since 2006, a year before the recession began. However, the number of people living at or below the poverty line, about 45 million, did not budge. The decline in the rate at a time of unchanging raw numbers was attributed to population growth…”
  • U.S. poverty declines in 2013, median income stagnant, Census Bureau finds, By Tony Pugh, September 16, 2014, Miami Herald: “An improved economy with more full-time workers spurred a decline in the national poverty rate in 2013 _ the first in 7 years _ and the first decline in the nation’s child poverty rate in 13 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Tuesday. The number of men and women working full time, year round increased by 1.8 million and by 1 million, respectively, from 2012 to 2013, as America’s recession-battered workforce continued to find jobs and move from part-time to full-time work status…”
  • Poverty rate drops for the first time since 2006, By Jesse J. Holland (AP), September 16, 2014, Salt Lake Tribune: “The poverty rate in the United States has dropped for the first time since 2006, bringing a bit of encouraging news about the nation’s economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for midterm elections. The U.S. Census Bureau, in its annual look at poverty in the United States, said that the poverty rate in 2013 was 14.5 percent, down from 15 percent in 2012. The decrease in the poverty rate was attributed to the growth in year-round employment by 2.8 million jobs in the United States, government officials said…”
  • U.S. poverty rate drops for first time since 2006, By Tami Luhby, September 16, 2014, CNNMoney: “There’s not much good news for working Americans struggling to rebound from the recession, except perhaps this: the U.S. poverty rate is finally on the decline. The nation’s poverty rate fell to 14.5% in 2013, down from 15% a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday. This is the first statistically significant drop in poverty since 2006, when it was 12.3%. A lot of the decrease is coming from people starting to find full-time work — and thus earning more money. But the number of people in poverty remains stuck at 45.3 million. As America’s population expands, the job growth hasn’t kept pace…”