State Medicaid Programs

  • State Medicaid programs face $141 million shortfall, report says, By Jason Stein, January 31, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin’s health programs for the poor have a $141 million shortfall in state money over the next year and a half, new estimates show. So far, GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has saving plans that would more that cover that potential deficit in the state’s Medicaid health programs. But a new report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office questions whether all of the saving will materialize. With costs in the program still substantial and the saving uncertain, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found in its new report that the finances of the health programs will need careful monitoring. The report comes ahead of new estimates expected next week that should shed more light on the overall condition of the state’s strained budget…”
  • Medicaid rolls rose even as Pa. disqualified many, new calculation shows, By Don Sapatkin, January 26, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s stepped-up efforts over the summer to target waste, fraud, and abuse quickly bore fruit in the fall. Adult Medicaid enrollment alone was down 109,000 through November. Cause and effect seemed clear. Advocates for the poor and disabled were outraged. Now, DPW has suddenly changed its reporting method. Revised calculations show a decline of just 6,000 participants for the same period. And when December is added in, enrollment is up by 23,000 since August – a time when officials agree that tens of thousands of people lost benefits after overdue reviews found they were ineligible. DPW says the new reporting method is just as accurate as the old one, merely different. But it will not disclose its new method or recalculate the latest Medicaid data using the old formula…”
  • Medicaid copays could increase in South Dakota, By Megan Luther, January 31, 2012, Sioux Falls Argus Leader: “Medicaid recipients in South Dakota will face larger copays for their medication if the federal government signs off on a state plan designed to drive down costs in the program that provides health care to poor people. Requiring the larger copays is one of 11 recommendations put forth by the Medicaid Solutions Work Group, an assembly of health care providers, lawmakers and state employees assigned with finding savings the the program. The group began work last year at the request of Gov. Dennis Daugaard…”
  • Medicaid change to cut pharmacy payments in Texas, By Jim Fuquay, January 28, 2012, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “When Marwan Hattab opened Wedgwood Pharmacy just over a year ago, he knew from his previous years in the business how much it costs to fill a prescription. And he knows it’s quite a bit more than he’ll be paid under a new reimbursement system for Texas’ Medicaid program. The state’s move to managed care for Medicaid prescriptions goes into effect March 1, and Hattab and other independent pharmacists say they stand to lose money on every prescription they write for the federal/state healthcare program for the poor. A coalition of Texas pharmacies said last week that the dispensing fee that pharmacists receive for filing a Texas Medicaid prescription will plunge from about $6.50 to as little as $1.35. The change is part of legislation passed last year that aims to save the state an estimated $100 million over the next two years…”

Asset-Poor Households in the US

Number of asset-poor Americans rising, By Becky Yerak, January 31, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Luz Pagan, 45, has been working as a part-time cashier at a discount store in downtown Chicago for nearly three years, her requests to become a full-time employee with benefits having gone nowhere. The single mom and her 12-year-old son, Marvin, have been living in a $575-a-month studio apartment on the North Side since November. But with a work schedule averaging 15 to 20 hours a week, in a job paying about $8.75 an hour, Pagan is struggling to cover living expenses and has to scrape together money from friends and family. Her last paycheck netted $64. ‘I’m underemployed,’ said Pagan, who previously lived in a shelter for two months. She has an associate’s degree and would love an office job. Marvin’s dad helps with expenses, but she said she and her son – a mostly A and B student who wants to be a doctor – are living paycheck to paycheck, with no savings. Pagan’s plight is becoming more commonplace. Nationwide, 27 percent of households are ‘asset poor,’ meaning they don’t have enough money tucked away to cover basic expenses for three months in case of a layoff or other emergency that saps income, according to a study to be released Tuesday by the Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development…”

State Minimum Wage – New York

With focus on income inequality, Albany bill will seek $8.50 minimum wage, By John Eligon, January 29, 2012, New York Times: “The Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park is no more, but the focus it brought to income inequality is having an impact in Albany and beyond. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, plans to introduce a bill on Monday to raise the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, a 17 percent increase. The bill also calls for the minimum wage to be adjusted each year for inflation. Mr. Silver’s action follows similar steps by lawmakers across the country: Delaware recently passed a minimum wage increase, and raises are being considered in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey…”

Medicaid Patients and Dental Care

Without dental coverage, patients seek pain relief in ER, By Alison Bath, January 28, 2012, Shreveport Times: “Louisiana spent $1.7 million on Medicaid patients who visited statewide emergency rooms seeking pain relief from toothaches during fiscal year 2010-11. The year before, the state paid $1.66 million for the same reason, according to Department of Health and Hospitals data. Those hospital visits didn’t solve the problem. Unlike dentists and oral surgeons, ER doctors and other physicians can’t pull a tooth. So, the thousands of Medicaid and other government health program recipients who visit an ER each year in Louisiana seeking help for toothaches, tooth abscesses and other dental emergencies receive only palliative care and a referral to an oral surgeon…”

State Medicaid Program – Colorado

Medicaid dispute pits ‘shared responsibility,’ care of poor, By Michael Booth, January 29, 2012, Denver Post: “Colorado policymakers are wrestling to bring the burgeoning Medicaid budget under control, as critics fear health insurance for the poor will consume the state budget. But even the smallest cuts or cost-shares raise protests from patient advocates and objections that such measures will prove more expensive in the long run. ‘Sharing responsibility’ by raising co-pays and enrollment fees for public health care actually discourages patients from seeking care until they require budget-busting emergency or specialty help, researchers say. ‘There is indisputable evidence that when you ask poor people to pay more for medical care, some of them cannot afford it, so they avoid seeking the doctor or cannot afford their medications,’ said Leighton Ku, director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University. Some of those patients, Ku said, will eventually require ‘the most expensive forms of care at emergency rooms or in hospitals.’ The constraints inherent in Medicaid – a tangled web of mandates, entitlements and patients’ behavior – frustrate critics, who see the program growing even more onerous. Federal health reform and expansions from a state hospital fee will add hundreds of thousands of people to public insurance rolls who are unlikely to ever leave…”

State Medicaid Programs – Maine, Kansas

  • Feds confirm high hurdle for DHHS cuts; LePage officials prepared to take case to D.C., By Steve Mistler, January 27, 2012, Lewiston Sun Journal: “The federal agency that will decide whether some of Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed Medicaid cuts qualify for waivers to make the reductions legal reaffirmed Thursday that the exemptions face long odds. In a written response to the Democratic leads on the Legislature’s budgetary committee, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services confirmed that legislative action was not a consideration in whether the agency will grant a waiver from the federal health care law…”
  • Kansas governor has no plans to slow Medicaid overhaul, By John Hanna (AP), January 26, 2012, Kansas City Star: “Kansas asked the federal government Thursday to waive some of its rules so that the state can overhaul its $2.9 billion Medicaid program, despite concerns among legislators that Gov. Sam Brownback is moving too quickly to turn all of it over to private health insurance companies. Brownback expects the state to issue contracts this year to three companies to manage the program, which provides health coverage to poor families and disabled and elderly Kansans. The contracts would take effect Jan. 1, 2013, and Kansas wants federal officials to issue a waiver so the state can include services for the disabled and elderly and build in financial incentives for improving services while controlling costs…”

Child Care Subsidies – New Jersey

  • Report: N.J. subsidized child care program hobbled by poor oversight and long waits, By Susan K. Livio, January 25, 2012, Star-Ledger: “New Jersey could be wasting millions of dollars a year on its subsidized child care program for thousands of working poor families by overpaying day care providers and failing to catch parents lying about their income, according to an audit state Comptroller Matthew Boxer released today. The comptroller’s team found glaring problems with the oversight of the N.J. Cares for Kids day care assistance program that eluded the state Department of Human Services and 15 regional agencies that manage its vast referral network, according to the audit…”
  • NJ comptroller criticizes state-administered child care program in audit, By John Reitmeyer, January 25, 2012, The Record: “Parents who cheated a $124 million state-administered program that helps low-income families afford child care – a program that has 8,000 children on a waiting list – could face criminal prosecution. An audit of the state Child Care Assistance Program released Wednesday by the Office of the State Comptroller found a series of other problems not detected by administrators, including overpaying child care centers with inflated attendance figures and enrolling children without proper Social Security numbers. In some cases, Comptroller Matthew Boxer said, the errors were likely honest. But others could eventually give rise to a criminal case, he said…”

Mobile Banking – Haiti

How Haiti is fighting poverty by killing cash, By Margo Conner, January 27, 2012, Christian Science Monitor: “In Haiti, cash is escaping from wallets and savings accounts are breaking free from brick-and-mortar banks. Two years after 2010′s devastating earthquake, mobile money has taken off in the island nation. While the country has seen setbacks in many areas and continues to struggle, one bright spot is the transformation of the country’s traditional banking sector. Physical banks were wiped away by the quake and subsequent hurricane, and a mobile banking network that uses cell phones has grown up in their place…”

Unemployment Rate – Spain

Spain unemployment hitting nearly 1 of 4 workers, rises to 22.8 percent, Associated Press, January 27, 2012, Washington Post: “Spain’s brutal unemployment rate soared to nearly 23 percent Friday and closed in on 50 percent for those under age 25, leaving more than 5 million people – or almost one out of every four – out of work as the country slides toward recession. Spain’s National Statistics Institute reported that 5.3 million people were jobless at the end of December, up from 4.9 million in the third quarter – a jump in the unemployment rate from 21.5 percent to 22.9 percent in the fourth quarter. For those under age 25, the rate hit a whopping 48.5 percent, and the institute also reported that Spain now has 1.6 million households in which no one has work…”

High School Dropout Ages and Graduation Rates

  • Obama wades into issue of raising dropout age, By Tamar Lewin, January 25, 2012, New York Times: “President Obama’s State of the Union call for every state to require students to stay in school until they turn 18 is Washington’s first direct involvement in an issue that many governors and state legislators have found tough to address. While state legislative efforts to raise the dropout age to 18 have spread in recent years, many have had trouble winning passage. Last year, for example, such legislation was considered in Alaska, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland and Rhode Island – but only Rhode Island actually changed its law…”
  • Missouri, Illinois educators debate raising high school dropout age, By Jessica Bock, January 26, 2012, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The legal age at which students in Missouri and Illinois can drop out of high school has inched up to 17 in recent years. Now, President Barack Obama wants states to do more. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, he called on every state to require students to stay in high school until they either graduate or turn 18. But some educators and researchers question the cost and effectiveness of such a measure. And they say that truly addressing the dropout problem requires far more than changing a number…”
  • In Ohio, dropout law hard to enforce, By Charlie Boss, January 26, 2012, Columbus Dispatch: “During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged states to require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18 – a law already in effect in Ohio and 19 other states. Still, at least 23,000 Ohio teens dropped out in the 2010-11 school year. And only a small number of those kids took advantage of an Ohio provision that lets them ‘officially’ leave school if they’re at least 16, have a full-time job and have permission from a parent and the district. Most of those 23,000 were out of school illegally and could face penalties – if they could be tracked down…”
  • City students at small public high schools are more likely to graduate, study says, By Winnie Hu, January 25, 2012, New York Times: “New York City teenagers attending small public high schools with about 100 students per grade were more likely to graduate than their counterparts at larger schools, according to new findings from a continuing study released on Wednesday night. The findings are part of a study that tracked the academic performance of more than 21,000 students who applied for ninth grade admission at 105 small high schools, mainly in Brooklyn and in the Bronx, from 2005 to 2008. The study appeared to validate the Bloomberg administration’s decade-long push to create small schools to replace larger, failing high schools…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Virginia, Indiana

  • Welfare drug testing bill whips up debate in state legislature, By Mike Sluss, January 25, 2012, Roanoke Times: “A House of Delegates committee has advanced legislation that would require drug testing of Virginia welfare recipients, despite objections from Democrats who argued that the proposal amounts to a targeted attack on poor people. The legislation – House Bill 73 – would require local social services agencies to screen recipients in the state welfare program to determine whether they use illegal drugs. Those who refuse to comply or fail a drug test would lose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits for one year unless they enter a drug treatment program. A recipient would have one opportunity to be reinstated to the program by complying with screening, assessment and treatment requirements…”
  • Welfare drug-testing bill passes on to vote from full House, By Maureen Hayden, January 25, 2012, News and Tribune: “Indiana lawmakers are pushing forward on legislation that would cut off cash assistance to welfare recipients who fail drug tests. In a 15-5 vote that crossed party lines, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill that would require the state’s Family and Social Services Agency to test out a drug-screening program on a small scale before it was launched statewide. It now goes to the full House for a vote. The focus is narrow: The FSSA would implement the drug-screening program in three test counties for a two-year period, then report back to the legislature. The drug-screening would only apply to adults who are receiving cash payments through a program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF…”

Politics and Poverty

Welfare issue makes political comeback, By Dawn Turner Trice, January 22, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich recently offered to attend an NAACP convention to explain why African-Americans ‘should demand paychecks instead of food stamps.’ And he has described President Barack Obama as ‘the most successful food stamp president in American history.’ While the Republican presidential race has brought the welfare issue to the forefront, critics say it has also resurrected stereotypical images of the black ‘welfare mother’ having out-of-wedlock babies so she can stay home and live large off the taxpayers. When it comes to welfare, perceptions have often trumped reality…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count 2011 report shows children on Medicaid, food assistance doubled in past decade in Southwest Michigan, By Fritz Krug, January 24, 2012, Kalamazoo Gazette: “More children are living in poverty in Southwest Michigan than a decade ago, and the number receiving Medicaid and the Food Assistance Program (food stamps) has nearly doubled over the last 10 years in four counties in the region. The findings are part of the annual Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, released today by the Michigan League for Human Services…”
  • Many Michigan kids living in poverty, report finds, By Robin Erb, January 24, 2012, Detroit Free Press: “Fewer Michigan teens are having babies or dropping out of school, and educational benchmarks for some of the state’s youngest students have improved, according to the new Kids Count report. Still, more of Michigan’s families continue to slip into poverty, threatening the health and future of the state’s youngest residents, according to the annual measure of the well-being of the state’s children. More than 1 in 10 children live in extreme poverty — twice as many as a decade ago, according to the report, which draws from several sources, according to the Kids Count in Michigan project at the Michigan League for Human Services, an advocacy group for poor people in Michigan…”
  • Kids Count: Nearly half of Michigan students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, By Dave Murray, January 24, 2012, Grand Rapids Press: “Nearly half of Michigan’s students now qualify for free or reduced-priced school lunches, a sign that any economic recovery has not filtered down to the state’s youngest residents, according to a report from two children’s advocacy organizations. The Kids Count in Michigan report also finds that the number of children living in poverty has jumped from 14 percent to 23 percent between 2000 and 2009, and that the number of children in extreme poverty has more than doubled, reaching 11 percent at the end of the decade. But advocates said there is good amid the economic statistics. Teen pregnancies are declining, as are the number of students dropping out of school. Death rates also are slowing, though children are experience more chronic illnesses…”
  • Recession affecting Michigan, Great Lakes Bay Region children, Kids Count data shows, By Kathryn Lynch-Morin, January 24, 2012, Saginaw News: “Today’s release of Kids Count in Michigan data paints a bleak picture of kids’ well-being in the Great Lakes Bay Region. More children are living in poverty in Saginaw and Bay counties than were in 2005, and rates of abuse and neglect have increased in both counties over the course of the decade, the report shows…”

Food Assistance and Immigrant Families – Kansas

Kansas Gov. Brownback to review state’s food stamp policy, By Laura Bauer, January 25, 2012, Kansas City Star: “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday that he would review a new policy that has eliminated food stamps for hundreds of low-income children who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are illegal immigrants. The Star reported Sunday how the new way the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services counts income for food stamp eligibility has affected families across Kansas. Since the new policy went into effect Oct. 1, more than 1,000 households have lost their food stamps. Many said they had relied heavily on benefits provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Brownback told reporters Tuesday that he would look into the new policy and talk to SRS workers in the field to see how families have been affected. Advocates for low-income families were encouraged by Brownback’s words, although the governor’s spokeswoman said no changes are planned…”

State Minimum Wage – Hawaii

Hawaii minimum wage could rise to $8.14 in January, Associated Press, January 25, 2012, CBS News: “A bill moving through the state Legislature could increase Hawaii’s minimum wage for the first time since 2007, but opinions are mixed as to whether elevating the wage floor would help or hinder Hawaii’s economic recovery. According to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, the current $7.25 minimum wage is worth 84 cents less than when it was set five years ago due to inflation. A minimum wage increase would help Hawaii workers recover lost purchasing power and encourage more spending that can contribute to the state’s economic recovery, the Labor Department suggests. That’s not the way the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii sees it, however…”

Student Homelessness – Maryland

State’s student homeless population doubles, By Jessica Anderson, January 22, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “For a few hours after school, Ryan Johnson is just like most 16-year-olds. He lounges on the couch with his favorite Xbox game or checks his Facebook page. But then reality sets in. He decamps from his cousins’ house for the Howard County cold-weather shelter. Dinner is a meal with his father and 20 other homeless people. He goes to bed early, on a green plastic mat next to strangers, who also have no other place to go in one of the state’s wealthiest counties. ‘It has been really hard,’ said Ryan, a junior at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia. ‘I look at it like a detention I have to do every day, even though I didn’t do anything wrong.’ Ryan’s experience is becoming increasingly common. The number of homeless students in Maryland has more than doubled in the past five years, rising from 6,721 to 14,117 last school year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education…”

Food Assistance and Immigrant Families – Kansas

Kansas slashes food aid for children of illegal immigrants, By Laura Bauer, January 22, 2012, Kansas City Star: “Pedro moved to the Kansas City area about 13 years ago and has held the same job for 11. Though he sometimes struggles to pay bills, he knows most people think he should receive no public aid. He’s an illegal immigrant. He doesn’t deserve handouts. He understands that. ‘I’ve never asked for anything for myself,’ said Pedro, who didn’t want his last name used to protect his family. ‘Never. I just work. Work hard.’ A new debate swirling around Kansas, though, isn’t about Pedro. It’s about two of his three children. They were born here, and one day they will have driver’s licenses and the right to vote, just like any other U.S. citizen. Early last year, when they needed food assistance, they got it. Pedro’s family received nearly $300 a month in food stamps. Enough to buy milk, eggs and meat, fruit and yogurt. Now, they get nothing. Neither do hundreds of other Kansas families who, like Pedro’s, are a mix of undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens. At a time when Gov. Sam Brownback has vowed to reduce child poverty, the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services – a state agency the governor controls – made a policy change that eliminated food stamps for hundreds of low-income U.S. children whose parents are illegal immigrants. For more households, benefits were reduced…”

States and Health Insurance Coverage

3 of 4 uninsured Americans in states that have yet to adopt health overhaul plans, Associated Press, January 23, 2012, Washington Post: “Here’s a reality check for President Barack Obama’s health overhaul: Three out of four uninsured Americans live in states that have yet to figure out how to deliver on its promise of affordable medical care. This is the year that will make or break the health care law. States were supposed to be partners in carrying out the biggest safety net expansion since Medicare and Medicaid, and the White House claims they’re making steady progress. But an analysis by The Associated Press shows that states are moving in fits and starts. Combined with new insurance coverage estimates from the nonpartisan Urban Institute, it reveals a patchwork nation. Such uneven progress could have real consequences…”

Teen Pregnancy

  • U.S. teen pregnancy rate remains highest in developed world, By Shari Roan, January 19, 2012, Los Angeles Times: “Teen pregnancy rates in the United States have fallen in recent years, but the country still has a higher rate than any other developed country, according to data released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Battles over how to best prevent teen pregnancy may be to blame for the continued high rate in the United States. Abstinence-only programs are favored in some areas while education and improved access to contraception are supported in others. The most recent controversy stemmed from the federal government’s refusal in December to allow emergency contraceptive pills to be sold over-the-counter to girls age 16 and younger…”
  • CDC: Many teen moms didn’t think it could happen, By Mike Stobbe (AP), January 19, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle: “A new government study suggests a lot of teenage girls are clueless about their chances of getting pregnant. In a survey of thousands of teenage mothers who had unintended pregnancies, about a third who didn’t use birth control said the reason was they didn’t believe they could pregnant. Why they thought that isn’t clear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey didn’t ask teens to explain. But other researchers have talked to teen moms who believed they couldn’t get pregnant the first time they had sex, didn’t think they could get pregnant at that time of the month or thought they were sterile…”
  • Roanoke’s teen pregnancy rate plunges 32%, By Courtney Cutright, January 20, 2012, Roanoke Times: “Roanoke’s rate of teen pregnancies dropped nearly 32 percent from 2009 to 2010, moving the city out of the top 10 localities in Virginia with the highest rates. Roanoke still ranks 12th in the state. But the city’s teen pregnancy rate for 2010 is one of the lowest since 1996, according to Virginia Department of Health statistics posted online recently…”

Politics and Poverty

  • Food stamp recipients to critics: Walk in our shoes, By Jesse Washington (AP), January 20, 2012, Charlotte Observer: “Some have advanced degrees and remember middle-class lives. Some work selling lingerie or building websites. They are white, black and Hispanic; young and old; homeowners and homeless. What they have in common: They’re all on food stamps. As the food stamp program has become an issue in the Republican presidential primary, with candidates seeking to tie President Barack Obama to the program’s record numbers, The Associated Press interviewed recipients across the country and found many who wished critics would spend some time in their shoes. Most said they never expected to need food stamps, but the Great Recession, which wiped out millions of jobs, left them no choice. Some struggled with the idea of taking a handout; others saw it as their due, earned through years of working steady jobs. They yearn to get back to receiving a paycheck that will make food stamps unnecessary…”
  • The Americans no one wants to talk about, By Michael Gerson, January 19, 2012, Washington Post: “It is an achievement of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements to have raised large issues of economic freedom and economic inequality. It is a paradox that their arguments have generally been vague, ideological and unhelpful. Elements on the right reject the whole ideal of distributive justice – opposing most taxation as theft and embracing a utopian project involving the abolition of the modern state. Elements on the left seek a substitute for capitalism – a utopian project that has been tried and found frightening. The political debates on free markets or the privileges of the 1 percent seldom touch on the actual struggles of citizens – say, living in the shadow of foreclosure, or attending a failing school, or surviving in a gang-occupied neighborhood. Ideology is abstract. Hardship is lived concretely. I like a good political philosophic debate as much as the next columnist. Give me a soy latte and a libertarian, and I’m set for the night. Ideas do have consequences. But many Americans are being overlooked in this bipartisan conspiracy of economic abstraction. A significant and growing portion of the population lives in poverty…”
  • GOP presidential candidates wade into politically tricky territory of food stamp spending, By Associated Press, January 9, 2012, Washington Post: “Politicians normally shy away from saying they want to cut food stamps, but this year’s Republican presidential candidates are using domestic food aid as an example of a welfare state gone awry. Supporters of the program say it is one of the most reliable safety nets for families who suddenly find themselves unable to pay for food, and politically the program has proved almost untouchable over many decades. More than 45 million people received the benefit last year at a $75 billion cost to the government, a record number as the economy has flailed. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and fellow contender Rick Santorum, both heavily involved in congressional welfare reform efforts in the mid-1990s, say the government should stop promoting a welfare-like state and convert food stamp spending to block grants to states, a move that could freeze spending and cut the benefit to many who now receive it. A spokesperson for Republican Mitt Romney says the former Massachusetts governor also supports turning the nation’s food stamp program into state block grants, though he rarely mentions it…”