Medicaid Coverage

  • States that expanded Medicaid saw drop in medical debt, U study finds, By Christopher Snowbeck, July 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “The federal health law’s Medicaid expansion delivered a degree of economic stability to low-income Americans in states that adopted the program, according to a new report from University of Minnesota researchers. Low-income residents in states like Minnesota that expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage saw a bigger decline in unpaid medical bills between 2012 and 2015 than people living in states that didn’t expand coverage, according to the study published in a blog by the journal Health Affairs…”
  • How crisis pregnancy center clients rely on Medicaid, By Sarah McCammon, July 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When Taylor Merendo moved to Bloomington, Ind., nearly two years ago, fleeing an abusive marriage, she needed help. ‘I was six months pregnant and at that point in time, I really didn’t have a stable place to live,’ Merendo says. That’s where the Hannah Center in Bloomington stepped in. It’s what’s known as a crisis pregnancy center, where women are counseled against abortion and often get support after their babies are born…”
  • Alabama officials abandon Medicaid reform plan, By Amy Yurkanin, July 27, 2017, al.com: “State officials have abandoned a plan to transform Medicaid in Alabama from a fee-for-service model into managed care system led by local healthcare organizations due to uncertainty about funding and high start-up costs…”

Safety Net Clinics – Minnesota

Safety net clinics in Minnesota face loss of federal funds, By Glenn Howatt, July 27, 2017, Star Tribune: “While the U.S. Congress continues to debate the future of Obamacare and Medicaid, Minnesota’s safety net clinics worry that they will lose $27 million in federal aid that helps pay for health care of the uninsured. Unless Congress acts by October to renew the funding, Minnesota’s 17 safety net providers would have to cut services and possibly close some of the more than 70 clinics across the state…”

Baby Boxes – Washington, DC

Baby boxes proposed in D.C. as wave of states look to Finland to prevent infant deaths, By Michael Alison Chandler, July 27, 2017, Washington Post: “To prevent infant deaths in the District, lawmakers are considering a tool that has become synonymous with the record-low infant mortality rate in Finland — a cardboard box. ‘Baby boxes’ come packed with new baby supplies and are outfitted with a firm, foam mattress so they can double as a bassinet during the baby’s first months, offering a safer alternative to co-sleeping…”

TANF Program Enrollment – Oregon

Cash assistance cases still above pre-recession levels, By Claire Withycombe, July 24, 2017, East Oregonian: “The number of Oregonians receiving federal cash assistance remains higher than it was at the start of the Great Recession, but state analysts expect the number to shrink to pre-recession levels by early 2019…”

Retirement Savings for Low-Income Workers

Trump Administration ends low-income retirement savings plan, By Paul Davidson, July 28, 2017, USA Today: “The Trump Administration said Friday it’s shutting down an Obama-era program aimed at encouraging low- and moderate-income households to save for retirement because the scant participation didn’t justify the cost…”

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Trump administration cuts short anti-teen pregnancy grants, By Carolyn Thompson (AP), July 25, 2017, ABC News: “Dozens of teen pregnancy prevention programs deemed ineffective by President Donald Trump’s administration will lose more than $200 million in funding following a surprise decision to end five-year grants after only three years. The administration’s assessment is in sharp contrast with that of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which credited the program with contributing to an all-time low rate of teen pregnancies…”

Prisoner Reentry

To reduce recidivism, states scrap barriers for ex-offenders, By Rebecca Beitsch, July 27, 2017, Stateline: “To ease prison crowding and rein in corrections spending, state legislatures are trying to help ex-offenders re-enter society with the goal of ensuring they don’t return to prison. People exiting prison often struggle to find work and housing, and many legislators say the law continues to punish them as they are hit with court debt and barred from entering certain professions and, in some places, from getting public assistance…”

Welfare Reform – Washington, DC

District does an about-face on welfare reform with decision to keep helping long-term recipients, By Paul Duggan, July 24, 2017, Washington Post: “In 2011, long-term welfare recipients in the District had reason to be gravely worried, because the D.C. Council and then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed intent on ending benefits entirely for families that had been on the rolls for longer than 60 months. The cutoff date, dubbed ‘the cliff,’ was set for October of this year, after which about 6,000 impoverished adults with roughly 12,000 children would be left to fend for themselves financially…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Housing and Eviction

  • ‘Here for the eviction’: More renters forced from homes as affordable-housing crisis deepens, By Alden Woods, July 16, 2017, Arizona Republic: “Ken Sumner stepped through the debris of another unexpected move. He weaved around the two men backing a truck through their friend’s barren yard, past a speaker system and stacks of framed photographs, moving toward the front door for his fifth eviction of the day. The evicted man waited alone…”
  • Councilman proposes legal aid for tenants in Baltimore facing evictions, By Doug Donovan, July 17, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “A Baltimore city councilman introduced legislation Monday aimed at establishing a fund that would help low-income tenants facing eviction and other housing problems to hire attorneys, an effort that cities across the nation are exploring or have implemented…”

Children in High-Poverty Neighborhoods

Study: With more U.S. children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, schools will see impact, By Maureen Downey, July 17, 2017, Atlanta Journal Constitution: “A new study by researchers at Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin looks at the rise in U.S. children — including a spike in white kids — living in poor neighborhoods since the Great Recession. That increase affects education, say researchers, because children in neighborhoods with higher levels of poverty start school less ready to learn…”

Minimum Wage

  • Here’s why you can expect a higher minimum wage in January, By Jim Miller, July 20, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “Barring a surprise sag in the state’s employment picture, California’s hourly minimum wage will increase as scheduled on Jan. 1. The hourly wage is scheduled to go from $10.50 to $11 at workplaces with 26 or more employees and from $10 to $10.50 at smaller workplaces…”
  • Report shows who was affected by St. Louis minimum wage change, By Uliana Pavlova, July 20, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “St. Louis’ minimum wage will soon to drop to $7.70, but who benefited from the short-lived increase to $10 an hour? Economist Charles Gascon and Senior Research Associate Daniel Eubanks looked into the issue and their findings were released in May by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis…”

Reform of Safety-Net Programs

  • GOP challenge: Reforming widely accepted ‘safety net’ programs, By Mark Turnbull, July 19, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “The failure of Senate Republicans to close ranks on health-care reform this week put on display an old challenge: How conservatives can reform social safety-net programs when there’s a growing acceptance of them – even among Republican voters…”
  • Small tweaks to existing policies could make a huge difference for poor families, By Karen Weese, July 20, 2017, Washington Post: “It wasn’t much — just five bucks apiece — but both boys’ eyes sparkled when Carol Moore told them they could spend it on anything they wanted. ‘Meet me back here in 10 minutes,’ Moore told the boys, whom she’d met a few months ago when they came to her church’s homeless shelter. As the boys set out into the aisles of Walmart, she called after them: ‘Just get something you really want, okay?’ Ten minutes later, they came back and held out their treasure. It was deodorant…”

Medicaid Programs

  • Montana faces double quandary over Medicaid expansion, By Bobby Caina Calvan (AP), July 17, 2017, Washington Post: “For all the uncertainty over the fate of a health care overhaul in Washington, tens of thousands of Montana’s working poor are already in a double quandary: Even if Congress leaves Medicaid expansion mostly intact, the future of the state’s program remains uncertain…”
  • Holcomb asks feds to allow Medicaid work requirements, Associated Press, July 21, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “Gov. Eric Holcomb has submitted a finalized proposal allowing for changes to the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 serving low-income Hoosiers…”
  • Study suggests why more skin in the game won’t fix Medicaid, By Don Sapatkin, July 19, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “As patients and partisans of all stripes take a deep breath after the latest Republican effort to dismantle Obamacare, they might consider how trying to save health-care dollars can have unintended consequences. In the Netherlands,  the government sought to give people more ‘skin in the game’ in its national health system. The idea —  long supported by U.S. conservatives, even for poor people on Medicaid — is that when patients have to shell out some cash for their care, they won’t seek unnecessary services…”

Medicaid and Addiction Treatment

How Medicaid cuts could exacerbate the opioid epidemic, By Ronald Brownstein, July 13, 2017, The Atlantic: “When Christie Green took her job three years ago as public-health director for the Cumberland Valley District in southeastern Kentucky, she had nearly two decades of experience in the state’s public-health system. But Green still wasn’t prepared for what she saw when her predecessor took her around this hardscrabble swathe of Appalachia centered on Clay County, which The New York Times once described as the hardest place in the United States to live. ‘In the first week,’ Green recently told me, ‘I met more people who were raising their grandchildren than I had in my entire career before that…’”

School Meal Programs – Omaha, NE

OPS won’t expand free-lunch-for-all program to more schools, citing concerns over possible loss of aid, By Erin Duffy, July 18, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “All students at six Omaha elementary schools have been able to eat free lunches for the past year and a half as part of a federal program intended to combat hunger at high-poverty schools. But the pilot program won’t be expanded to more of the Omaha district’s schools in the coming school year because of worries that it could affect the level of school funding the district receives…”

Medicaid Coverage

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • In many states, a long-awaited raise for low-paid workers, By Tim Henderson, July 14, 2017, Stateline: “In 44 states, jobs paying roughly $30,000 were among those that got the largest salary bumps since 2010 — evidence that the steady but modest economic growth of the past half-decade may be reaching people at the bottom of the income ladder…”
  • St. Louis businesses pressured to keep $10 minimum wage, By Jim Salter (AP), July 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The $10 per hour minimum wage law in St. Louis will be short-lived, but an effort launching Friday will encourage and pressure businesses to honor the higher wage even if state law doesn’t require it…”

Prisoner Reentry – Los Angeles, CA

“I tried to assimilate. And I couldn’t:’ Ex-cons struggle to re-enter the workplace. Now L.A. County trying to help, By Nina Agrawal, July 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “When Lily Gonzalez was released from Valley State Prison in Chowchilla in 2012, all she wanted to do was put incarceration behind her. She hoped to go back to work, continue her education at Cal State Northridge and reconnect with her 11-year-old daughter. ‘I tried to assimilate,’ she said. ‘And I couldn’t.’  Gonzalez had been convicted of multiple felonies for falsifying signatures on documents — ‘something stupid I did when I was 18 years old,’ she said. Instead of returning to her old life, including a job with the county’s Department of Consumer Affairs, Gonzalez found herself stuck…”