State Medicaid Programs

  • At Trump’s urging, states try to tilt Medicaid in conservative directions, By Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, May 25, 2017, Washington Post: “Wisconsin is preparing to recast its Medicaid program in ways that no state has ever done, requiring low-income adults to undergo drug screening to qualify for health coverage and setting time limits on assistance unless they work or train for a job. The approach places BadgerCare, as the Wisconsin version of Medicaid is known, at the forefront of a movement by Republican governors and legislatures that is injecting a brand of moralism and individual responsibility into the nation’s largest source of public health insurance. From Maine to Arizona, some states are seizing on an invitation by the Trump administration to redesign a program that was created as part of the 1960s Great Society and now covers 69 million Americans…”
  • Wisconsin GOP advances measure that would make state first to drug test for health benefits, By Jason Stein, May 25, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin could become the first state in the nation to require needy but able-bodied adults to work and submit to drug tests to qualify for public health coverage, under a proposal advanced by lawmakers Thursday. Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee outvoted Democrats 12-4 to approve these provisions in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget along with the bill’s requirement that some parents on food stamps work in order to receive benefits…”

SNAP Work Requirements – Georgia

Thousands dropped from food stamps due to work requirements, By Craig Schneider, May 24, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Thousands of Georgians have lost their food stamps after the state gave them an ultimatum: Get a job or lose your benefits. Is that good news or bad news? Depends who you talk to. Placing work requirements on food stamps has proven controversial across the country, with opinions often divided along political lines.  Georgia has been rolling out work requirements for food stamp recipients for over a year. The latest round affected some 12,000 people in 21 counties, several in metro Atlanta, who are considered able-bodied without children…”

Identification Cards and the Homeless

Without ID, homeless trapped in vicious cycle, By Teresa Wiltz, May 15, 2017, Stateline: “Nearly three years ago, when his fiancee died, Robert Giddings was abruptly evicted from their Flint, Michigan, home. His name wasn’t on the lease, so he had no recourse — and his landlord threw out all his things, including his ID. Terrified, he stumbled through the wintry streets for a day, until police picked him up for public intoxication. Giddings says he wasn’t drunk, but blind from untreated cataracts. Giddings was placed in a shelter, but without ID, he couldn’t get the medical care he needed — or even gain entrance to government buildings so he could apply for a replacement ID…”

In-Work Poverty – Britain

Record 60% of Britons in poverty are in working families – study, By Patrick Butler, May 22, 2017, The Guardian: “A record 60% of British people in poverty live in a household where someone is in work, according to researchers, with the risk of falling into financial hardship especially high for families in private rented housing. Although successive governments have maintained that work is the best route out of poverty, the study by Cardiff University academics says the risk of poverty for adults in working families grew by a quarter over the past decade…”

Foster Care Shelters – California

Chronicle investigation spurs calls to close foster care shelters, By Karen de Sá, Joaquin Palomino, and Cynthia Dizikes, May 22, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “The state attorney general’s office is looking into hundreds of dubious arrests at California’s shelters for abused and neglected children that were detailed last week in a San Francisco Chronicle investigative report. The attorney general’s response comes amid calls from judges, state lawmakers and youth lawyers to consider shutting down shelters where children as young as 8 have been funneled into the criminal justice system for minor incidents…”

State Benefit Program Eligibility Checks

What happens when states go hunting for welfare fraud, By Jen Fifield, May 24, 2017, Stateline: “By the time Illinois decided to crack down on Medicaid fraud in 2012, state officials knew that many people enrolled in the program probably weren’t eligible. For years, caseworkers hadn’t had the time or resources to check. To catch up, the state hired a private contractor to identify people who might not be eligible for the low-income health program and to make recommendations for whose benefits should be canceled. Within about a year, Illinois had canceled benefits for nearly 150,000 people whose eligibility could not be verified — and saved an estimated $70 million…”

Wisconsin Poverty Report

UW-Madison researchers find modest drop in Wisconsin poverty rates, By Bill Glauber, May 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Boosted by a growth in jobs, poverty in Wisconsin dropped from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.7% in 2015 according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. It is the lowest poverty rate recorded since the WPM was introduced nine years ago by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute of Research on Poverty…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

3-state study sizes up gains via Medicaid; coverage soars in Arkansas, Kentucky, less so in Texas, By Andy Davis, May 23, 2017, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Three years after their states expanded Medicaid, low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be more likely to have a doctor and less likely to have trouble paying medical bills or to delay seeking care because of the cost, a study has found. The study, conducted annually since 2013 by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found those and other improvements in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be significant compared with smaller or nonexistent gains in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

As GOP tarries on health bill, funding for children’s health languishes, By Julie Rovner, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a “repeal and replace” bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the month. In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda. One of the immediate casualties is the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP covers just under 9 million children in low- and moderate-income families, at a cost of about $15 billion a year…”

Rural Food Insecurity

In some rural counties, hunger is rising, but food donations aren’t, By Pam Fessler, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities.  Food banks that serve these areas are also feeling the squeeze, as surplus food supplies dwindle but the lines of people seeking help remain long…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • Report: NJ kids have more access to health care, early education options, By Kelly Kultys, May 22, 2017, Burlington County Times: “Children in New Jersey were better off in terms of access to health care, school enrollment and family economics, according to the 2017 NJ Kids Count report from the Advocates for Children of New Jersey. The report found the percentage of uninsured children was down, while incomes and enrollment were up. But it also raised concerns about disparities in the juvenile justice system and the number of children being treated for substance abuse…”
  • N.J. kids are doing better these days, and Obamacare is one big reason, By Susan K. Livio, May 22, 2017, NJ.com: “Kids Count, the annual report measuring the health, safety and well-being of New Jersey’s 2 million children, shows there is cause for optimism as fewer children live with unemployed parents, lack insurance and and rely on welfare. And one big reason, authors say, is that kids have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare…”

US State Unemployment

  • Unemployment rates hit record lows in 3 states, By Josh Boak (AP), May 19, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Solid hiring nationwide led unemployment rates to touch record lows in three U.S. states last month. Unemployment rates declined in 10 states in April, increased in one — Massachusetts — and held relatively stable in the other 39, the Labor Department said Friday. A significant number of the job gains occurred in nine states, led by Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Indiana was the only state to see a significant decrease in jobs last month…”
  • 9 years after recession began, some states still unrecovered, By Jeff Amy (AP), May 18, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Call them the unrecovered — a handful of states where job markets, nine years later, are still struggling back to where they were before the recession. That’s true in Mississippi, where job numbers and the overall size of the economy remain below 2008 levels. Unlike states that have long since sprinted ahead, Mississippi is struggling with slow economic growth and slipping population in a place that’s rarely at peak economic health…”

News & Observer Series on Low-income Students in Gifted Classes

Counted Out, series homepage, News & Observer: “North Carolina’s public schools are failing to help thousands of low-income children who have shown they are smart enough to handle advanced work. An unprecedented analysis of seven years of state data shows that a far larger proportion of more affluent students are selected for gifted classes over their low-income peers with the same end-of-grade test scores…”

States and Medicaid Coverage

  • Medicaid is helping poor patients get needed care, even as Republicans push to cut it, study finds, By Noam N. Levey, May 17, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “As the Trump administration and congressional Republicans push for sweeping cuts to the Medicaid safety net, a study released Wednesday provides new evidence the program is significantly improving poor Americans’ access to vital medical care. Low-income patients in Arkansas and Kentucky, two states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, are getting check-ups more regularly and delaying care because of cost less frequently…”
  • Nebraska’s new Medicaid managed care system blamed for problems with billing and getting approval for care, By Martha Stoddard, May 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska’s new system for administering the bulk of its Medicaid program has gotten off to a rocky start. Nearly five months after its launch, the system has left behavioral health and home health providers fuming over unpaid claims and frustrated about getting care authorized for patients…”
  • Medicaid spending caps in Republican proposal would cut coverage for Florida children, By Daniel Chang, May 18, 2017, Miami Herald: “Low-income children in Florida gained Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act despite the state’s refusal to expand eligibility for the public health insurance program, according to a study published Wednesday by the non-partisan Urban Institute, a health policy think tank. But those gains may end if the American Health Care Act — the Republican-sponsored bill to repeal and replace the health law known as Obamacare — creates spending caps for Medicaid, according to the consulting firm Avalere Health in a separate report this week…”
  • Big health gains in Medicaid expansion states elude Texas’ poor, By Jenny Deam, May 18, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “The health of Texas’ poor is worse – at times significantly so – than those who live in two Southern states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. A report Wednesday in Health Affairs, a health policy journal, examined four years of medical outcomes in Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky and found that health measurements in the latter two states, both of which expanded Medicaid, dramatically improved in nearly all categories…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

Progress reducing U.S. uninsured rate comes to a halt, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), May 16, 2017, Seattle Times: “Five years of progress reducing the number of Americans without health insurance has come to a halt, according to a government report out Tuesday. More than a factoid, it shows the stakes in the Republican drive to roll back the Affordable Care Act. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 28.6 million people were uninsured in 2016, unchanged from 2015. It was the first year since passage of the health care overhaul in 2010 that the number of uninsured did not budge…”

Public Housing – Cairo, IL

Their public housing at the end of its life, residents ask: What now?, By Monica Davey, May 17, 2017, New York Times: “Residents hear mice rustling in the walls at night. Some occupants leave ovens on in the winter, their doors perched open, because furnaces fail. Ceilings droop from water damage, mold creeps across walls, and roaches scramble out of refrigerators. So when federal authorities finally deemed two public housing developments here in the southernmost tip of Illinois unacceptable and uninhabitable, it felt like vindication of what residents had been saying for ages. But then came the solution: an order that everyone must vacate…”

Medicaid Spending to School Districts

Schools brace for impact if Congress cuts Medicaid spending, By Sally Ho and Carolyn Thompson (AP), May 14, 2017, Arizona Daily Star: “For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health-care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms. Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base…”

Eviction – Baltimore, MD

  • Dismissed: Low-income renters in Baltimore become migrants in their own city, By Doug Donovan and Jean Marbella, May 6, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “When the furnace in their West Baltimore rowhouse broke last winter, Denise and Marvin Jones did what they could to keep their family warm — and together. They filed a complaint against their landlord. They boiled pots of water and ran space heaters. They sent their four children to bed bundled in coats, hats and gloves. ‘I didn’t want to separate them,’ Denise said, crying. But ‘it was so cold.’ The family split up in January, fanning out to the heated homes of different relatives across the city even as they continued to pay the $950 monthly rent at their own cold home. They sometimes checked in to motels just to spend a few nights together. But as temperatures rose with the coming of spring, so did their spirits. After five months, their complaint was advancing in Baltimore District Court. And Marvin had located a new home…”
  • Evictions perpetuate Baltimore’s cycle of poverty, Editorial, May 8, 2017, Baltimore Sun: “Evictions are devastating for the families who go through them. The process is all-consuming. Low-income tenants spend hours going to court to plead their cases or begging family, friends and social service agencies for help. They lose time at work, and an already precarious financial situation becomes worse. They live in anxiety about every knock on the door, wondering whether it might be a property agent or sheriff’s deputies ready to dump all their belongings onto the street. And if the worst comes, they may find themselves suddenly homeless, struggling to keep the family together, desperate to provide any sense of normalcy for their children as they are torn away from neighborhoods and schools…”

Wage Theft – Ohio

Wage theft report finds many in Ohio paid below minimum wage, By Olivera Perkins, May 11, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio ranked second among large states for the share of workers whose employers failed to pay them minimum wage, according to a recently released report. In Ohio, 5.5 percent of workers experienced this type of ‘wage theft,’ according to the analysis released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Ohio’s current minimum wage is $8.15 an hour…”

States and Job Training

Why some states are making short-term training free, By Sophie Quinton, May 3, 2017, Stateline: “Community colleges are known for their associate degree programs. But these days, many community colleges award more certificates than degrees. Certificates typically take less than two years to complete and promise to prepare students for entry-level jobs in fields such as medical insurance coding or welding. Now Kentucky and Indiana have created scholarships that would make some certificates tuition-free. The new grants draw inspiration from the free college idea pushed by Democrats like former President Barack Obama and embraced by Oregon, Tennessee and New York. But they’re less focused on reducing soaring tuition prices and more focused on training students for jobs that are sitting open…”