Home Weatherization Program – West Virginia

‘Successful weatherization’ effort?, By Alison Knezevich, September 4, 2010, Charleston Gazette: “In April 2009, West Virginia received nearly $38 million in federal stimulus funds to make the homes of needy residents more energy-efficient. Eighteen months later, many are wondering why that weatherization aid never reached them. Karen Hoffman, 55, got a letter last June saying she had been approved for repairs at her mobile home in Cross Lanes. ‘No one has ever been here,’ Hoffman said. Peggy Coleman of Cedar Grove said a weatherization crew replaced her 33-year-old furnace late last year. The crew was supposed to return to install an air conditioner. ‘They just never came back,’ the 79-year-old widow said. Weatherization is meant to help cut the energy bills of low-income, disabled and elderly people. Crews can install insulation, seal ducts, and tune up or replace heating and cooling systems. The U.S. Department of Energy says families can save an average of $437 a year. The federal stimulus package pumped $5 billion into the program, but across the nation, states have failed to meet goals set when the stimulus was rolled out. They’ve blamed complex federal regulations and other challenges…”

Childrens’ Health Insurance Coverage

  • Utah second worst at enrolling kids in Medicaid, CHIP, By Kirsten Stewart, September 4, 2010, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah has the country’s second-lowest participation rate in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a persistent problem propelling the state’s uninsured rate, a new report shows. An estimated 7 million children in America were uninsured on any given day in 2008, and nearly 5 million of those were eligible for government-funded, low-income health insurance programs, according to a report by the Urban Institute. Published Friday in the online journal HealthAffairs, the report uses Census data from the 2008 American Community Survey to estimate rates of participation by children in each state, as well as how many children were eligible but not enrolled. The report doesn’t reflect recent efforts to remedy the problem, nor the large increase in enrollment during the economic recession, said Kolbi Young, a spokeswoman at the Utah Department of Health…”
  • Push to enroll uninsured kids in health coverage under way in California, By Bobby Caina Calvan, September 5, 2010, Sacramento Bee: “Despite eligibility for Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, 700,000 children in California remain uninsured, and a push is under way to get them enrolled in government health insurance programs. Dwindling money for outreach and enrollment-assistance programs, coupled with uncertainty over the future of government health programs, may have sowed confusion among many California families, children’s advocates say…”
  • New Jersey’s health insurance programs for poor children still are not reaching all the kids who need it, By Lindy Washburn, September 4, 2010, Herald News: “New Jersey’s health insurance programs for poor children still are not reaching all the kids who ought to benefit, a new analysis shows, and 150,000 children under age 18 in the state remain uninsured. More than two-thirds of the state’s uninsured children have at least one parent who is employed full time. The majority are U.S. citizens whose parents are also U.S. citizens. The largest demographic group is Hispanic (59,000), followed by white (46,000) and African-American (30,000). They are more likely to be boys and over 13 years old…”
  • Programs help children get health insurance, By Yvonne Wenger, September 4, 2010, The State: “More than 160,000 children living in South Carolina qualify for government health insurance that is free for their parents, but the kids aren’t signed up for the coverage. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Friday challenged South Carolina and other states to find and enroll within five years an estimated 5 million children nationwide who are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, commonly known as CHIP, or Medicaid…”

Food Stamp Application Process – Texas

State makes progress on food stamp backlog, By Corrie MacLaggan, September 7, 2010, Austin American-Statesman: “With hundreds of new workers on board, Texas has dramatically improved its speed and accuracy processing food stamp applications, Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs plans to tell state lawmakers today. But he’ll also tell the joint gathering of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and the House-Senate panel overseeing the eligibility system that he needs more resources, including more workers. ‘Yes, we’ve turned it around,’ Suehs told the American-Statesman on Tuesday. But he added: ‘We still have a long way to go to maintain it there. This thing is still in a precarious situation.’ In August, Texas processed 93.5 percent of applications within the required 30 days, compared with 58.6 percent in September 2009, according to the commission. A year ago, the state routinely failed to process food stamp applications as quickly as required by the federal and state governments. Some families waited months for aid, and those who were eligible were at times denied benefits because of processing errors…”

Telecommunications in Developing Nations

For the poor, cellphones can offer lifeline, By Cecilia Kang, September 8, 2010, Washington Post: “For the world’s poorest, cellphone technology carries opportunity, aid groups say, as text messages and other mobile applications have created a new platform to reach the most remote farms and crowded urban slums of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Grameen Foundation, a Washington-based group known for helping women with the smallest of business loans, has two dozen people in a technology lab here developing mobile Internet applications to help spread its microfinance model. It’s warning farmers in Uganda about banana crop rot through text messages and collecting data on spreadsheet applications on smartphones…”