Medicaid Coverage

  • State’s low Medicaid payments pinch doctor practices in low-income areas, By Guy Boulton, July 19, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Mohammad Qasim Khan, a primary care physician who oversees a private practice in a low-income neighborhood, well knows the discrepancy between what private insurance pays for his services and what the state’s Medicaid program pays. Khan, who works with another physician and three nurse practitioners at the Family Medical Clinic, 5434 W. Capitol Drive, estimates that the program’s payment rates are half — and in some cases, less than half — those of private insurance…”
  • U.S. hospitals get lift from surge in Medicaid sign-ups, By Susan Kelly, August 1, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “U.S. hospitals are getting a stronger-than-expected benefit from a new influx of low-income patients whose bills are paid by the government’s Medicaid program, raising their profit forecasts as a result. The growing numbers of Medicaid patients helped hospital operator HCA Holdings Inc, the largest for-profit chain, post stronger earnings in the second quarter than initially forecast…”
  • CDC: Many kids with Medicaid use ER as doctor’s office, By Steven Reinberg, July 29, 2014, Lafayette Journal and Courier: “Children covered by Medicaid, the publicly funded insurance program for the poor, visit the emergency room for medical care far more often than uninsured or privately insured youngsters, a U.S. survey finds. And kids with Medicaid were more likely than those with private insurance to visit for a reason other than a serious medical problem, according to the 2012 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…”

July 2014 US Unemployment

Economy gains 209,000 jobs; jobless rate, 6.2%, By Paul Davidson, August 1, 2014, USA Today: “The high-flying labor market showed no let-up in July as employers added 209,000 jobs. The unemployment rate rose to 6.2% from 6.1%, the Labor Department said Friday, as 329,000 Americans, including many who had given up their job searches, surged back into the labor force. Economists had estimated that 238,000 jobs were created last month, according to the median forecast from Action Economics survey…”

Childhood Poverty and Health Outcomes

Improved parenting may fortify low-income kids against poverty effects, By Melissa Healy, August 1, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “For children growing up in poverty, the seeds of poor health in adulthood appear to be sown early. But a nurturing parent may be able to foster a child’s resilience to such conditions as allergies, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, says a new study. To gauge the lasting health effects of good parenting, the latest research returned to rural Georgia eight years after researchers completed their first clinical trial of a seven-week program called the Strong African American Families Project. Of the 667 African American mothers and their children who participated in that trial, researchers returned to 272 of the child subjects, who were by now 19 to 20 years old. They collected blood samples and measured those samples for signs of systemic inflammation…”

Suburban Poverty in the US

  • The rise of suburban poverty in America, By Josh Sanburn, July 31, 2014, Time: “Colorado Springs is often included on lists of the best places to live in America thanks to its 250 days of sun a year, world-class ski resorts and relatively high home values. But over the last decade, its suburbs have attained a less honorable distinction: they’ve experienced some of the largest increases in suburban poverty rates. The suburbs surrounding Colorado Springs now have seven Census tracts with 20% or more residents in poverty, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution. In 2000, it had none. In those neighborhoods, 35% of residents are now considered to be below the poverty line, defined as a family of four making $23,492 or less in 2012…”
  • Poverty consolidated and spread to the suburbs during the 2000s, report finds, By Niraj Chokshi, July 31, 2014, Washington Post: “Poverty is concentrating and spreading, according to a new Brookings Institution report. The report, which uses neighborhood-level Census data to track changes in the poor population between 2000 and the 2008 to 2012 period covering the Great Recession and its aftermath, finds that poverty increasingly concentrated, imposing what author Elizabeth Kneebone described as ‘double burden’ on the poor…”

Income Inequality

Income inequality and the ills behind it, By Eduardo Porter, July 29, 2014, New York Times: “Is it time to stop obsessing about inequality? Perhaps it was President Obama’s speech last December, calling the nation’s vast income gap ‘the defining challenge of our time.’ The American publication of the French economist Thomas Piketty’s blockbuster ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ must have helped. Whatever the reason, suddenly inequality seems to be not only at the top of the liberal agenda, but in the thoughts of concerned American voters. Yet amid the denunciations of inequity as the major evil of our era, persistent voices — mostly but not exclusively from the political right — have been nibbling away at the concern over distribution . . .”

College Access and Inequality

College cost isn’t poor students’ big problem, By Christopher Flavelle, July 28, 2014, Bloomberg View: “To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting more kids from poor families into college, the key to moving up in an increasingly unequal society. In research published last year, a team of American and Canadian economists compared the connection between family income and college or university attendance in the two countries. . .”

Household Wealth

The typical household, now worth a third less, By Anna Bernasek, July 27, 2014, New York Times: “Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too. The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially. The Russell Sage study also examined net worth. . .”

Promise Zones

A new initiative from the Obama administration offers new hope to high poverty areas, By Amy McDonald, July 27, 2014, Deseret News: “Sara-Jane Smallwood had made her way to the top: a bachelor’s degree in Indian American studies, a master’s in public policy from Indiana University and a job on the Hill, working as a policy analyst for her U.S. senator. But Smallwood came from the bottom: a small town in Southeastern Oklahoma where more than 60 percent of the population lives below poverty. Her high school class of 35 people didn’t hold a 10-year reunion, because several class members had died, and many were in and out of prison. But even though hers was an anomalous story of success, she speaks of her hometown with love and pride. And in 2011, Smallwood — the descendant of a long line of influential Choctaw tribal leaders and the daughter of two school teachers — decided that of all the hard work she saw at the top, very little was reaching the bottom…”

EITC and Poverty Measurement

Everyone’s favorite anti-poverty program doesn’t reduce the poverty rate, By Dylan Matthews, July 29, 2014, Vox: “As we mentioned during the rollout of Paul Ryan’s poverty plan last week, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit is one of the few anti-poverty measures both parties can agree about (even if they can’t come to an agreement on how to fund it). But at the same time, the EITC does exactly nothing to reduce the official poverty rate. The reason has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the policy — the best evidence we have is that the EITC improves health, school achievement in children of recipient households, and those children’s wages once they grow up, among other things. It has to do entirely with what is and isn’t included in the official poverty numbers. . .”

Poverty Measurement – India

New poverty formula proves test for India, By Raymond Zhong, July 27, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “India is wrestling with an important question: How do you count the poor if you can’t agree on the definition of poverty? Debate over redrawing the poverty line—the product of reams of academic research, field surveys and mathematical modeling—might seem arcane but carries great consequence. Under a new formula proposed last month by a government-appointed committee, nearly 30% of India’s 1.2 billion people would be classified as poor, up from 22% now, an increase of 94 million people. Decades of disagreement over how to measure the poor in countries around the world suggest there is something unquantifiable about poverty—that, like goodness and obscenity, it may be easier to recognize than to define…”

Long-Term Unemployment

A drop in the long-term unemployed, By Floyd Norris, July 25, 2014, New York Times: “The long-term unemployment rate, which soared in 2009 to heights not seen since the Great Depression, is finally declining rapidly. The proportion of the work force that has been unemployed for at least 27 weeks has fallen to 1.98 percent, less than half the record high of 4.4 percent reached in 2010…”

State Medicaid Programs – Oregon, North Carolina

  • Medicaid enrollees strain Oregon, By Gosia Wozniacka (AP), July 23, 2014, ABC News: “Low-income Oregon residents were supposed to be big winners after the state expanded Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul and created a new system to improve the care they received. But an Associated Press review shows that an unexpected rush of enrollees has strained the capacity of the revamped network that was endorsed as a potential national model, locking out some patients, forcing others to wait months for medical appointments and prompting a spike in emergency room visits, which state officials had been actively seeking to avoid. The problems come amid nationwide growing pains associated with the unprecedented restructuring of the U.S. health care system, and they show the effects of a widespread physician shortage on a state that has embraced Medicaid expansion…”
  • Many low-income N.C. workers are locked out of Medicaid, By Karen Garloch, July 25, 2014, Charlotte News and Observer: “They’re construction workers, waitresses and cashiers. They care for our children and elderly parents, clean our offices and bathrooms. But they go without health insurance because their incomes aren’t high enough to qualify for federal subsidies and too high to qualify for North Carolina’s current Medicaid program for low-income and disabled citizens. More than half of the 689,000 uninsured adults North Carolinians who fall into this so-called “Medicaid gap” are employed in jobs that are critical to the state’s economy, according to a report released Thursday by the North Carolina Justice Center, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association and Families USA…”

Ryan Poverty Plan

  • Republican plan to combat poverty shifts onus to states, By Theodore Schleifer, July 24, 2014, New York Times: “Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, outlined a plan to combat poverty on Thursday that would consolidate a dozen programs into a single ‘Opportunity Grant’ that largely shifts antipoverty efforts from the federal government to the states. Mr. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading voice in his party on fiscal matters, said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that the federal government represents the ‘rear guard — it protects the supply lines.’ ‘The people on the ground, they’re the vanguard,’ he continued. ‘They fight poverty on the front lines.’ Mr. Ryan’s proposal gives new policy backbone to Republicans’ recent promises to address poverty and is part of a broader political strategy to increase the party’s appeal. . .”
  • Paul Ryan to propose sweeping consolidation in antipoverty pitch, By Damian Paletta, July 24, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is proposing to consolidate up to 11 federal antipoverty programs into a single funding stream for states, a plan he says will include new work requirements and create more accountability and efficiency in assisting low-income Americans. Food stamps, housing assistance, child-care aid and cash welfare would be among the funding streams pooled into the program, potentially redirecting more than $100 billion in federal support each year. While many Republicans and President Barack Obama have offered anti-poverty proposals recently, Mr. Ryan’s status as budget committee chairman and a leading architect of GOP fiscal plans. . .”

2014 Kids Count Data Book

  • Child poverty rates on the rise, By Hoai-Tran Bui, July 22, 2014, USA Today: “Child poverty rates in the U.S. are on the rise, but health and education trends are showing improvements—including teen pregnancy reaching a historic low, according to the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In its analysis of children’s overall well-being, the 25th edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book found that about 23% of children in 2012 are living in families below the poverty line. The KIDS COUNT Data Book takes into account four factors to judge children’s well-being – economic status, education, health and family and community – and found that statistics were generally mixed since the study was started in 1990. This year’s data book looks at state Census statistics up until 2012…”
  • Southwest, South score low on child-welfare index, Associated Press, July 22, 2014, Washington Post: “Several states in the Deep South and Southwest have earned dismal scores on an annual child-welfare index that cited poverty and single-parent house households as worrisome trends that must be turned around for things to improve. Mississippi was rated the worst state for overall child well-being, largely because of rising child poverty. It was the second time in three years the state has come in last in rankings complied in the Kids Count Data Book. New Mexico, Nevada, Louisiana and Arizona round out the bottom five states. The study released Tuesday marks the 25th edition of the child well-being scorecard from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child advocacy group…”

Youth Unemployment

The youth unemployment crisis hits African-Americans hardest, By NPR Staff, July 21, 2014, NPR:  ”Young people are being chased out of the labor market. Though the national unemployment rate has fallen steadily in recent months, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, and the jobless rate is even higher among young minorities. For young people between the ages of 16 and 24, unemployment is more than twice the national rate, at 14.2 percent. For African-Americans, that rate jumps to 21.4 percent. . .”

Inequality: Life Expectancy and Birthweights

This first chart on inequality will break your heart. The second will give you hope. By Zachary Goldfarb, July 21, 2014, Washington Post: “Look at this chart, and weep. It compares the life expectancy of women at the bottom of the income ladder to those at the top. Birth certificates do not record information about income, but researchers use race and educational status as proxies. In 1990, the life expectancy of a woman who never completes high school was 77.7 years. The life expectancy of a woman who completes college was 80 years. That makes for a difference of 2.3 years. By 2010, despite all the advances in medicine, the woman who never completes high school is expected to die sooner, at 77.3 years of age. But the woman who completes college is expected to live much longer, to 83.9 years of age. . .”

State Minimum Wage Increases

States with higher minimum wage gain more jobs, By Christopher S. Rugaber (AP), July 19, 2014, USA Today: “Maybe a higher minimum wage isn’t so bad for job growth after all. The 13 states that raised their minimum wages at the beginning of this year are adding jobs at a faster pace than those that did not, providing some counter-intuitive fuel to the debate over what impact a higher minimum has on hiring trends…”

Libraries and Homelessness

U.S. libraries become front line in fight against homelessness, By Ian Simpson, July 17, 2014, Chicago Tribune: “George Brown, a homeless man in Washington, has a simple answer when asked how often he uses a public library. ‘Always. I have nowhere else to go,’ Brown, 65, said outside the U.S. capital’s modernist central library after a morning reading sociology books. ‘When it’s hot, you come here to stay out of the heat. When it’s cold, you come here to stay out of the cold.’ Brown is among the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who have put the almost 9,000 U.S. public libraries, the most of any country in the world, in the forefront of the battle against homelessness. Moving beyond their old-fashioned image as book custodians where librarians shush people for talking too loud, libraries have evolved to serve as community centers, staffed with social workers and offering programs from meals to job counseling. . .”

Global Food Production

How to feed 3 billion extra people — without trashing the planet, By Ezra Klein, July 18, 2014, Vox: One of the daunting challenges of the coming century will be figuring out how to grow enough food for everyone on the planet. And all without destroying the planet. That’s harder than it sounds. The global population is expected to swell from 7 billion today to 9.6 billion in 2050. On top of that, countries like China and India are getting richer and eating more meat — a particularly resource-intensive type of food. Then there’s the environment to consider. Farms have become a major source of nitrogen pollution. Around the world, freshwater aquifers are dwindling. And, perhaps most crucially, countries like Brazil are trying to cut back on deforestation — which in turn makes it harder to find new cropland. . .”

ACA Coverage

  • Reports: ACA coverage reached more than 9 million, By Kaitlyn Krasselt, July 15, 2014, USA Today: “Far more people are insured because of the Affordable Care Act than the White House estimated in May, new research shows. At least three new studies on the ACA’s effect show big increases in the number of newly insured Americans, with the highest estimate topping out at 9.5 million from the Commonwealth Fund. That compares with the 8 million reported by the White House in May. It’s hardly all good news for the administration’s efforts, however. Analysts from the Rand Corporation estimate that while 14.5 million people gained coverage in the last year, about 5 million people were insured before the ACA and lost coverage because of the law — leading to a net gain of around 9 million. . .”
  • Groups under Health Act are said to aid millions, By Abby Goodnough, July 15, 2014, New York Times: “More than 4,400 consumer assistance programs created under the Affordable Care Act helped an estimated 10.6 million people explore their new health insurance options and apply for coverage during the initial six-month enrollment period, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey. But the programs that operated in states with their own online insurance marketplaces got more funding and helped more people than those in states on the federal exchange, the survey found. In the District of Columbia and 16 states that ran or were working toward running their own exchanges, the programs helped about twice as many people, relative to the uninsured population, as they did in 29 states served by the federal exchange. . .”