Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away, By Melissa Etehad, August 28, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Ontario Pope has long struggled to stretch his McDonald’s paycheck to cover the basics and provide for his four young children. But even after more than nine years with the fast-food chain, the 31-year-old St. Louis man said he still lived with relatives or in motels, the fear of becoming homeless never far from his thoughts.  Pope was hopeful when the city passed an ordinance in May that raised the minimum wage from the state’s $7.70 to $10…”

Medicaid Expansion – Nevada

High-stakes health-care debate hits Nevada’s Medicaid program, By Ben Botkin, August 5, 2017, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Marta Jensen, Nevada’s point person on Medicaid, watched on C-SPAN recently as the U.S. Senate debated health care reform. She had four different bills pulled up on her computer. The stakes were high for Nevada. Each of the bills would have repealed at least parts of the Affordable Care Act and affected Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides poor and disabled Americans with medical coverage. More than one-fifth of the state’s residents now receive their health insurance through Medicaid…”

Health Disparities in Appalachia

  • Report: Appalachians’ health ‘dramatically’ poorer than the US as a whole, By Kristi L. Nelson, August 24, 2017, Knoxville News Sentinel: “Heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, drug overdose, diabetes, stroke and suicide – they’re all killing Appalachians at a higher rate than the rest of the country as a whole. On Thursday, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky issued a report, ‘Health Disparities in Appalachia,’ outlining what it called ‘dramatic disparities’ in both health issues and outcomes in the 420-county Appalachian Region, compared to nationwide numbers…”
  • Death comes sooner in Appalachia. It comes much sooner in Eastern Kentucky, By Bill Estep, August 24, 2017, Lexington Herald-Leader: “The years of life Appalachian Kentucky residents lose to health maladies such as heart disease and cancer is 63 percent higher than the national average, according to a report released Thursday. The news was not good in Eastern Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia on just about every indicator of health: heart disease deaths were 17 percent higher in Appalachia than the country as a whole; cancer deaths were 27 percent higher; stroke deaths were 14 percent higher; and the rate of deaths from poisoning, which mostly means from drug overdoses, was 37 percent higher…”

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Baltimore uses trauma research to improve life for poor parents and their children, By Mark Beckford, August 20, 2017, Washington Post: “One day, when she was 14 and feeling ill, Daylesha Brown’s mother took her to a Baltimore hospital and did not return for her. Child Protective Services (CPS) placed her in a group home and she was forced to move to other homes for the next three years. ‘My mother, she pushed me away,’ Brown, now 23, said softly. ‘I was always getting in trouble with my mother.’  So last year when Brown discovered her daughter, Sa-Maji, had lead poisoning, a lingering problem in Baltimore where the rate of poisoning among children is nearly twice the national average, she was wary that she would lose her child to CPS because of her transient lifestyle. She wanted to spare her child the misfortunes she had experienced…”

SCHIP Reauthorization

Deadline looms for Congress to reauthorize insurance program for low-income kids, By Jennifer Brooks, August 22, 2017, Star Tribune: “Time is running short for Congress to fund a program that covers health care for more than 100,000 Minnesota children. When federal lawmakers return to work in September, they will have until the end of the month to hammer out the entire 2018 federal budget, avoid a government shutdown, reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from lapsing and tackle tax reform…”

Older Americans Facing Hunger

Hunger receded after the recession but not for older Americans, U.S. figures show, By Peter Whoriskey, August 17, 2017, Washington Post: “Since the recession, many measurements of the U.S. economy improved: The stock market rallied, unemployment fell and the number of Americans worried about getting enough food began to drop. Yet for all that, one important measure has lagged. The proportion of people over 60 deemed to be ‘facing hunger’ – based on their answers to a U.S. Census survey –  has been on a steady climb that began in 2001 and has plateaued but not dropped in recent years, according to a report released Wednesday…”

Home Visiting Programs

Home visits help parents overcome tough histories, raise healthy children, By Anna Gorman, August 21, 2017, National Public Radio: “Seated at a kitchen table in a cramped apartment, Rosendo Gil asks the parents sitting across from him what they should do if their daughter catches a cold. Blas Lopez, 29, and his fiancée, Lluvia Padilla, 28, are quick with the answer: Check her temperature and call the doctor if she has a fever they can’t control…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

‘Ban the Box’ laws may be harming young black men seeking jobs, By Rebecca Beitsch, August 22, 2017, Stateline: “‘Ban the box’ laws, which bar employers from asking job applicants whether they have a criminal record, may be harming some of the people they are intended to help.  Twenty-nine states prevent state and sometimes city and county employers from including a criminal history box on job applications. Nine states have extended the ban to private employers as well…”

Infant Mortality

Cities enlist ‘doulas’ to reduce infant mortality, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2017, Stateline: “This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chance of surviving infancy as white babies: training ‘doulas’ to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward. The doula initiative is the latest salvo in the Baltimore City Health Department’s 7-year-old program to combat high infant mortality rates among black newborns…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota minimum wage set to rise with inflation in 2018, By Erin Golden, August 17, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s minimum wage will increase next year by 15 cents to keep up with inflation, rising to $9.65 per hour for workers at many businesses across the state.  The increase, announced Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, is effective Jan. 1, 2018. It’s the result of a 2014 law that boosted the minimum wage to $9.50 and required the state to begin calculating automatic inflationary increases for each year, starting with 2018…”

Bail Reform

Post bail, By Jon Schuppe, August 20, 2017, NBC News: “On the ground floor of a deteriorating county courthouse, in a room outfitted with temporary office furniture and tangles of electrical wires, a cornerstone of America’s criminal justice system is crumbling. A 20-year-old man in a green jail jumpsuit appears on a video monitor that faces a judge. It is early June, and he has been arrested for driving a car with a gun locked in the glove compartment.  If he were in almost any other courtroom in the country, he’d be ordered to stay behind bars until he posted bail — if he could afford it. This is what millions of people charged with crimes from shoplifting to shootings have done for more than two centuries. The bail system, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, is meant to ensure that all defendants, presumed innocent before trial, get a shot at freedom and return to court. But allowing people to pay for their release has proved unfair to people who don’t have much money…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • In Florida, Medicaid is a matter of life and death, By Noreen Marcus, August 14, 2017, U.S. News & World Report: “The first thing Kristina Iavarone wants to buy when her son gets Medicaid is an asthma inhaler. He and his sibling lost their health insurance six months ago due to family finances. ‘They’ve been off health care for six months and six months is long enough,’ says Iavarone, a waitress in Tampa. Fortunately her son, 16, hasn’t had to go to the emergency room.  Since the teenaged Iavarones should be able to qualify for Florida KidCare, the state’s main Medicaid program for residents under 19, they shouldn’t have to wait much longer…”
  • Climbing cost of decades-old drugs threatens to break Medicaid bank, By Sydney Lupkin, August 14, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs — some generic and some still carrying brand names — proved more than two decades old…”
  • With changes approved, Nebraska will continue Medicaid program that pays premiums for some, By Martha Stoddard, August 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Federal officials have approved changes that will allow Nebraska to continue a program in which Medicaid helps pay private health insurance premiums for some people…”
  • New life for Medicaid after GOP’s health care debacle, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), August 14, 2017, Washington Post: “It may not equal Social Security and Medicare as a ‘third rail’ program that politicians touch at their own risk, yet Medicaid seems to have gotten stronger after the Republican failure to pass health care legislation…”

Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Elite Colleges and Low-Income Students

High-achieving, low-income students: Where elite colleges are falling short, By Elissa Nadworny, August 17, 2107, National Public Radio: “When Anna Neuman was applying to college, there weren’t a lot of people around to help her. Students from her high school in Maryland rarely went on to competitive colleges, the school counselor worked at several different schools and was hard to pin down for meetings and neither of her parents had been through the application process before…”

Rural Poverty – Illinois

Rural poverty in Illinois met with concern, community aid, By Nat Williams and Jeff DeYoung, August 11, 2017, Southern Illinoisan: “Poverty isn’t particular about geography; it affects people everywhere. But in Illinois, rural residents may have a more difficult path out of economic stagnation. Recovery from the Great Recession has been slower in rural communities compared to their urban counterparts…”

Extended Foster Care – California

Youths in foster system get care until age 21, but struggles persist, By Nina Agrawal, August 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Eric Usher dreams of working as an audio producer, driving his friends around in a Maserati and living by the beach. But most importantly, Usher says, he looks forward to being independent. ‘I won’t have any system support, and I’ll be living on my own,’ is how he describes it. For now, Usher must content himself with a spare ground-floor apartment a few miles from downtown L.A…”

Affordable Housing – Miami, FL

South Florida ranked as the hardest place in nation for low-income renters to find affordable housing, By Linda Robertson, August 16, 2017, Miami Herald: “As the nationwide housing crisis becomes more dire for those who are the most vulnerable, South Florida has been ranked as the metro area with the highest percentage of low-income renters who can’t find affordable housing…”

Opioid Epidemic

New numbers reveal huge disparities in opioid prescribing, By Christine Vestal, August 14, 2017, Stateline: “For most of the last decade, this once thriving city had the highest unemployment rate in Virginia. Its disability and poverty rates are consistently double the state average, and its population is aging. In July, the former textile and furniture manufacturing mecca earned another dubious distinction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its drugstores dispense the highest volume of opioid painkillers per capita in the nation…”