Medicaid Programs – Oregon, Wisconsin, New York

  • Feds to put up $1.9B for Oregon health overhaul, By Jonathan J. Cooper (AP), Miami Herald: “The Obama administration is buying into an ambitious health care initiative in Oregon, announcing Thursday it has tentatively agreed to chip in $1.9 billion over five years to help get the program off the ground. Oregon hopes to prove that states can save billions on Medicaid without sacrificing the quality of health care. Gov. John Kitzhaber’s plan would invest in preventive care to keep patients healthy so they don’t need expensive hospitalizations. ‘If this works, I think other states are going to be looking at this as a way to manage that patient population,’ said Kitzhaber, a Democrat and former emergency room physician who has worked for decades on reforming the health care system. The federal government could save $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years if all 50 states adopted Oregon’s approach, the governor has said…”
  • State sending letters on Medicaid changes, By Jason Stein, May 2, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The state is sending out letters to 111,000 low-income Wisconsinites warning them that they could see changes to their state health coverage, including premium increases. The letters are being sent after federal officials announced Friday their approval of plans by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to cut costs in those Medicaid programs. Officials estimate that the plans will lead to more than 17,000 people leaving or being turned away from the state’s BadgerCare Plus health programs for the needy. State Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith said Wednesday that the state will send two notices to those affected – this first letter will give general information about what the changes could be, and another in mid-June will give more specific information such as the exact premium increases for recipients affected by those. Smith spoke Wednesday at a luncheon organized by the Wisconsin Health News service…”
  • Medicaid comes home, right here in Buffalo, By Henry L. Davis, April 30, 2012, Buffalo News: “He may not look the part, but Gerald Easley, a 59-year-old diabetic in Buffalo, lives on the cutting edge of health care reform. Medicaid costs are consuming budgets in New York and other states, forcing a search for solutions that don’t undermine services. One of them, the Health Home, is rolling out now in Buffalo, and patients such as Easley are the target candidates. It’s a long-talked-about concept for dealing with the most expensive and most difficult to treat individuals: Assign a single organization to coordinate all care, including follow-up after medical visits and referrals to social services that Medicaid and other forms of insurance generally don’t pay for, such as phone calls to address problems ahead of time and referrals to housing…”

People Living in Poverty – Northern Ireland

Rise in level of poverty among working households in NI, May 2, 2012, BBC News: “A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has examined the impact of the economic downturn on households in Northern Ireland since 2009. It said half of the 120,000 children living in poverty are in a household with at least one working parent. It also found that that over a fifth of NI pensioners are living in poverty. The report, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland, was published on Wednesday…”

Food Insecurity and Nutrition

A food stamp paradox: Starving isn’t the issue – it’s access to nutritious foods, By Eric Schulzke, April 28 2012, Deseret News: “When Jill Warner’s husband lost his job as a product manager in 2009 and entered a bout of hard-core unemployment, they and their four children eventually turned to food stamps. For the first four months, they had zero family income and received $900 a month in food stamps. ‘We ate what we wanted,’ Warner recalls. ‘And we had plenty of flexibility.’ She would leave Costco loaded with snap peas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and fresh meat, and after a busy day she would stop at Papa Murphy’s on the way home. Because Murphy’s is ‘take and bake,’ rather than served hot, she could use food stamps. ‘Food access was great,’ she said, ‘but mortgage, utilities and car payments were another matter.’ ¬†After a few months, her husband found entry level work that barely paid the bills, and their food benefit dropped to $500. ‘That was very tight,’ Warner said. ‘We had to compromise and buy more basic foods, and it was a close call.’ Firmly entrenched in middle class habits and attitudes, Warner is not quite the face of American hunger…”