Medicaid Privatization – Iowa

Medicaid firms spending less on care for Iowa’s poor, disabled, By Tony Leys, March 15, 2017, Des Moines Register: “The three private firms running Iowa’s Medicaid program have found ways to trim spending on care for the poor or disabled Iowans they cover, a new report suggests. But all three continue to lose tens of millions of dollars on the controversial project.  The companies’ per-member monthly spending on health care for adults fell by as much as 28 percent from the three months ending in September 2016 to the three months ending in December 2016, the new report shows…”

Access to Health Clinics and Medicaid Births

Cutting Planned Parenthood would increase Medicaid births, C.B.O. says, By Kate Zernike, March 14, 2017, New York Times: “Cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood — a longstanding conservative goal that is included in the Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — would reduce access to birth control for many women and result in thousands of additional Medicaid births, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  Because nearly half of all births nationwide are to Medicaid patients, and many of those babies are Medicaid patients themselves, the budget office estimated that defunding Planned Parenthood even for a year would increase Medicaid spending by $21 million in the first year, and $77 million by 2026…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Study: Medicaid expansion made it easier to get a doctor’s appointment, By Michelle Andrews, March 6, 2017, Governing: “More than 14 million adults have enrolled in Medicaid since the health law passed, and that has caused some hand-wringing over whether there would be enough primary care providers to meet the demand. But a study out this week suggests that the newly insured people are generally able to get timely appointments for primary care…”
  • Stakes high in Illinois as Congress rethinks Medicaid, By Lisa Schencker, March 3, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Soccer coach Lesly Durand noticed last fall that he was running out of breath more easily on the field, and getting unusually tired carrying bags of equipment.  The 61-year-old Evanston man didn’t know why, so he called his doctor. That call led to tests, which led to the discovery of five blocked arteries and then, ultimately, bypass surgery.  ‘The doctors said, ‘I can’t believe you’re still alive,”said Durand, who gained insurance a couple of years ago under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid…”
  • U.S. House ACA reform may turn up heat on N.C. Medicaid expansion, By Richard Craver, March 8, 2017, Winston-Salem Journal: “North Carolina Republican legislative leaders may have more incentive — but likely no new motivation — to expand the state’s Medicaid program as part of a proposal in the U.S. House for repealing and replacing the federal Affordable Care Act…”

Drug Overdose Deaths and Indigent Burial

Drugs are killing so many people in West Virginia that the state can’t keep up with the funerals, By Christopher Ingraham, March 7, 2017, Washington Post: “Deaths in West Virginia have overwhelmed a state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row, causing the program to be nearly out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Funeral directors in West Virginia say the state’s drug overdose epidemic, the worst in the nation, is partly to blame…”

States and Medicaid Coverage

  • The adults a Medicaid work requirement would leave behind, By Abby Goodnough, February 25, 2017, New York Times: “On a frigid morning here, Nancy Godinez was piling bread and other staples into her car outside a food pantry. She had lost her job as a custodian, her unemployment checks had run out, and her job search had proved fruitless.  One thing she still had was health insurance, acquired three years ago after Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature agreed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The coverage, she said, has allowed her to get regular checkups and treatment for tendinitis in her foot.  But unless she finds a new job, Ms. Godinez, 55, could be at risk of losing her insurance, too…”
  • Obamacare 101: What’s going to happen to 70 million Americans who rely on Medicaid?, By Noam N. Levey, March 2, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “It’s the program that everyone confuses with Medicare.  But Medicaid, the half-century-old government health plan for the poor, is actually bigger than its more famous cousin, covering some 70 million Americans at any one time.  Expanding Medicaid was a central pillar of the Affordable Care Act, helping to bring health coverage to more than 20 million previously uninsured people…”
  • Who are the 700,000 Ohioans receiving health insurance under Medicaid expansion?, By Rich Exner, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Who are the 700,000 Ohioans who have received health insurance under Medicaid expansion? And has the insurance really made a difference?  A state report conducted for the Ohio General Assembly provides a snapshot, based on questioning of new Medicaid recipients added as a result of Obamacare…”
  • Texas brings ‘disadvantages’ to debate of federal Medicaid spending caps, study warns, By Robert T. Garrett, February 28, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “For years, Texas GOP leaders have said they’d gladly give up open-ended flows of federal Medicaid money for a set ‘block grant’ that lets them run the health insurance program for the poor the way they want.  They may get their wish.  As part of repealing and replacing Obamacare, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican House leaders such as Rep. Kevin Brady of The Woodlands have proposed that states choose between Medicaid block grants and per capita caps. President Donald Trump and Senate Republican leaders have called for similar changes…”

Homelessness in the US

  • How America counts its homeless – and why so many are overlooked, By Alastair Gee, Liz Barney and Julia O’Malley, February 16, 2017, The Guardian: “They dressed in several layers of clothing or donned old hats. They carried blankets and cardboard boxes. It was approaching midnight in New York one night in March 2005, and recruits who had been paid $100 each to pretend to be homeless were fanning out across the city.  There were 58 sites dotted throughout the metropolis. Pseudo-homeless people arrived at subway stations in Manhattan, back alleys in Staten Island and Queens, the front steps of a church in the Bronx. Then they waited to see if anyone noticed them…”
  • Doctors could prescribe houses to the homeless under radical Hawaii bill, By Liz Barney, February 28, 2017, The Guardian: “One day last month, Stephen Williams asked a passerby for help and then collapsed on the sidewalk. When the ambulance arrived in downtown Honolulu, his temperature was well over 104F.  A life-threatening staph infection had entered his bloodstream. Williams, who lives on the dusty streets of Chinatown, spent seven days hooked to an IV, treatment that can cost $40,000, according to the hospital that admitted him. But Williams didn’t pay: the bill was covered by government dollars in the form of Medicaid. Over the past four years, he has been to the hospital for infections 21 times, he said, a consequence of psoriasis flare-ups in a humid climate and unsanitary conditions…”
  • $3 million sought for Housing First effort, By Dan Nakaso, March 1, 2017, Honolulu Star Advertiser: “Three years after homeless people on Oahu were first placed into market-rate, Housing First rental units, the state wants to add another $3 million to expand the concept to Kauai, Maui and Hawaii island starting in April.  Under the program, imported from mainland communities, landlords are assured of rent and a social service contact to call to address any problems with their tenants, who may be dealing with various issues that could include mental illness and substance abuse…”

Kids Count Report – Indiana

Why it’s tough to be a youth in Indiana, By Shari Rudavsky, February 27, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “It’s not easy being a child. And it can be even harder to be a child in Indiana, according to data released Monday.  Indiana has the 15th largest population of youth younger than 18, with more than 1.5 million children living here. But many youth in Indiana experience poverty and maltreatment, says the 2017 Kids Count in Indiana Data Book from the Indiana Youth Institute with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The annual report paints a picture of the experience of children who live in Indiana, by sharing statistics on families and communities, education, the economy, health and safety…”

Medicaid Expansion – Maine

Mainers to vote on whether to expand access to Medicaid under ACA, By Scott Thistle, February 21, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap confirmed Tuesday that a campaign asking voters to approve an expansion of the state’s Medicaid system under the federal Affordable Care Act has submitted enough valid signatures to place the question on the November ballot…”

Health Insurance Coverage

  • Major hospitals pull out of Alabama Medicaid reform, call for delay, By Amy Yurkanin, February 14, 2017, Birmingham News: “An overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program that has already been postponed a year could face more delays after the departure of several health care systems over concerns about the program’s direction and costs.  State leaders have been working since 2012 to transform the Medicaid program from a system that pays for unlimited services to managed care that caps costs at a certain amount per patient to control spending. Last year, federal authorities approved a plan for managed care for Medicaid, which provides health coverage to about a million low-income Alabamians. Regional care organizations in five regions are a key part of the reform effort…”
  • As GOP plows forward on Obamacare repeal, new data show the nation’s uninsured rate hit a record low last year, By Noam N. Levey, February 14, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “The nation’s uninsured rate tumbled further last year, hitting the lowest rate on record, according to new government data that underscored what is at stake in the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In the first nine months of 2016, just 8.8% of Americans lacked health coverage, survey data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show…”
  • Republican health care proposal would cover fewer low-income families, By Alison Kodjak, February 16, 2017, National Public Radio: “House Republicans are debating a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act that would give consumers tax credits to buy insurance, cut back on Medicaid and allow people to save their own money to pay for health care costs.  The outline plan is likely to take away some of the financial help low-income families get through Obamacare subsidies, and also result in fewer people being covered under the Medicaid health care program for the poor…”

Baby Box Program – New Jersey

Baby in a box? Free cardboard bassinets encourage safe sleeping, By Lisa W. Foderaro, February 12, 2017, New York Times: “Jernica Quiñones, a mother of five, was the first parent in New Jersey to get her free baby box — a portable, low-tech bassinet made of laminated cardboard. But first, she had to take an online course about safe sleeping practices, which experts say can sharply reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome.  ‘Basically, you want to have the baby on the mattress, and that’s it,’ she said after watching a 20-minute series of videos.  The message may not be new. But health officials say it is critical to keeping babies safe. To reduce infant mortality, parents must put babies to sleep on their backs on a firm mattress in either a bassinet or a crib — with no pillow, blanket, stuffed animal or bumpers.  Now, New Jersey has become the first state to adopt a broad program to reduce infant deaths by aiming to distribute as many as 105,000 of the so-called baby boxes — the expected number of births in the state this year…”

Child Poverty and Health

Study shows poor children face higher rates of asthma and ADHD, By David Templeton, February 13, 2017, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Poverty takes a toll on human health and especially on children.   The American Academy of Pediatrics and Britain’s Child Poverty Action Group, among various groups and scientific studies, long have documented the higher risk of illness, chronic disease and disability among impoverished children, along with lower birth weights and an average life expectancy nearly a decade shorter than children from affluent families.  Now add asthma and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to the long list of physical and mental maladies, along with attendant conditions known as ‘comorbidities.’   These are the key findings of a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC study published today in Pediatrics…”

Medicaid Expansion – Utah, Louisiana

  • State officials send feds Medicaid expansion plan for low-income parents, By Alex Stuckey, February 3, 2107, Salt Lake Tribune: “As Utah officials continue to wait for federal approval of their small-scale Medicaid expansion plan, they hope to expand coverage to some parents.  Tom Hudachko, state Department of Health spokesman, said Friday that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ‘verbally indicated’ to state officials late last year that it would approve that part of the expansion, covering low-income parents with dependent children…”
  • Louisiana’s uninsured rate falls to 12.5 percent; leaders cite Medicaid expansion, By Elizabeth Crisp, February 8, 2017, Baton Rouge Advocate: “Louisiana is one of 10 states that have seen the steepest decreases in the rate of uninsured residents over the past four years, according to survey findings released Wednesday. The 2016 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that Louisiana’s uninsured rate fell to 12.5 percent last year — down from 21.7 percent in 2013.  The survey’s researchers note that all 10 states that saw their uninsured rates drop have expanded Medicaid through the federal Affordable Care Act…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Indiana

Indiana bill aims to increase lead testing for children in low-income families, By Ted Booker, February 9, 2017, South Bend Tribune: “Only a small fraction of Indiana’s children in low-income families are tested for lead poisoning, but a proposed state bill aims to change that.  Senate Bill 491 — co-authored by Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, and Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend — calls for doubling the number of Medicaid-eligible children tested statewide for the toxic metal, which can cause permanent damage to kids’ developing brains and organs…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Indiana looks to extend Medicaid experiment started under Obamacare, By Phil Galewitz, February 1, 2017, National Public Radio: “As Congress weighs repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the home state of Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday sought to keep its conservative-style Medicaid expansion under the federal health the health law.  Indiana applied to the Trump administration to extend a regulatory waiver and funding until Jan. 31, 2021, for its package of incentives and penalties that are intended to encourage low-income Hoosiers on Medicaid to adopt healthful behaviors. Beneficiaries pay premiums, get health savings accounts and can lose their benefits if they miss payments…”
  • Kasich keeps Medicaid expansion in state budget proposal, By Catherine Candisky, January 31, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “Amid uncertainty about the expected repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Gov. John Kasich’s final two-year budget proposal maintains Medicaid health coverage for 3 million poor and disabled Ohioans, including the 700,000 childless adults added to the rolls under Obamacare.  To curb costs, Kasich’s plan for Ohio’s tax-funded health insurance program would save hundreds of millions by cutting payments to hospitals and nursing homes, charging premiums to some beneficiaries, and moving nursing home residents and others into private managed-care plans…”
  • Arizona plan to tighten Medicaid eligibility likely to stand better chance under Trump’s watch, By Ken Alltucker, February 1, 2017, Arizona Republic: “State officials again will seek to tighten Medicaid eligibility with new restrictions that could affect tens of thousand of adults enrolled in the government insurance program for low-income Arizonans.  The state’s Medicaid agency is preparing to seek federal permission to require ‘able-bodied’ Medicaid recipients to either be employed or searching for a job while enrolled. The state also proposes to cap lifetime eligibility for Medicaid at five years…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Obamacare, Medicaid-expansion recipients in Ohio fear repeal, By Catherine Candisky, Alan Johnson and JoAnne Viviano, January 22, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “Breast-cancer survivor Susan Halpern said she is terrified about losing her health-care coverage if the Trump administration follows through with its promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Bankruptcy could be on the horizon, the Columbus woman said.  ‘I’m trying to figure out a way to survive and keep some kind of health insurance,’ said Halpern, 57, who owns a small social-media business.  Nearly 1 million Ohioans, and 20 million nationwide, are covered under the law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage and creation of an insurance exchange marketplace that offers federal subsidies to help many Americans pay premiums…”
  • Republican states look to customize Medicaid expansion, not eliminate it, By Christine Vestal, January 23, 2017, Stateline: “As candidates two years ago, the Republican governors of Kentucky and Arkansas swore they would do away with ‘Obamacare’ if elected. But a funny thing happened between the campaign trail and the governor’s mansion: Reality set in.  After promising to uproot Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin simply renamed his Democratic predecessor’s health care plan for low-income adults and proposed changes designed to help people find jobs and get off the rolls…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Criticizing Kansas, feds deny extension of KanCare privatized Medicaid program, By Bryan Lowry and Hunter Woodall, January 19, 2017, Kansas City Star: “Federal officials have rejected Kansas’ request to extend its privatized Medicaid program, KanCare, saying it has failed to meet federal standards and risked the health and safety of enrollees. Kansas is ‘substantively out of compliance with Federal statutes and regulations, as well as its Medicaid State Plan’ based on a review by federal investigators in October, according to a letter sent to the state Jan. 13 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services…”
  • GOP governors who turned down Medicaid money have hands out, By Thomas Beaumont (AP), January 19, 2017, Seattle Times: “Republican governors who turned down billions in federal dollars from an expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law now have their hands out in hopes the GOP-controlled Congress comes up with a new formula to provide insurance for low-income Americans.  The other GOP governors, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who agreed to expand state-run services in exchange for federal help — more than a dozen out of the 31 states — are adamant that Congress maintain the financing that has allowed them to add millions of low-income people to the health insurance rolls…”

Health Insurance Coverage

Poor, chronically sick, unemployed most likely to lose coverage if ACA repealed, study finds, By Gillian Mohney and Dr. Darien Sutton-Ramsey, January 20, 2017, ABC News: “With Republican lawmakers promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act under the new administration, researchers have been working to understand how people who gained coverage after the ACA’s passage will be affected.  Those most at risk for losing coverage are more likely to be poor, have a chronic illness or be unemployed, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association…”

Kids Count Report – New Mexico

  • Kids Count report is a mixed bag for New Mexico, By Rick Nathanson, January 17, 2016, Albuquerque Journal: “The annual New Mexico Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday shows the most improvement in measures of children’s health, but little improvement in measures of family economic well-being.  The data book, a project of New Mexico Voices for Children, showed declines in the rate of babies with low birth weight, in children without health insurance, and in teens abusing alcohol and drugs. The teen birth rate has also declined, following a similar national trend…”
  • Despite upticks, N.M. still tough for kids, By Robert Nott, January 17, 2017, Santa Fe New Mexican: “Nearly all New Mexico children have health care insurance, and sharply fewer of the state’s teenagers are abusing drugs and alcohol, a new report says. Overall, however, New Mexico remains a tough place for kids…”

Poverty and Child Development

The toll poverty takes on children’s mental health, By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, January 10, 2017, CBS News: “Growing up in poverty exposes children to greater levels of stress, which can lead to psychological problems later in life, a new study suggests.  Researchers at Cornell University reported that kids who grow up poor are more likely to have reduced short-term spatial memory. The study also reported that such kids seem to be more prone to antisocial and aggressive behavior, such as bullying.  Poor children are also more likely than kids from middle-income homes to feel powerless, the study authors suggested…”

Kids Count Report – Florida

  • Kids Count report: Many area children living in poverty, By Liz Freeman, January 8, 2017, News-Press: “Children in Southwest Florida are falling behind compared to the health and well-being of children around the state, a report released today shows. More children in Collier and Lee counties live in poverty and rely on food stamps, are uninsured and overweight, and have gone through maltreatment dispositions compared to their counterparts statewide, according to a Florida Kids Count report…”
  • Report highlights racial disparities among Jacksonville’s children in poverty, By Tessa Duvall, January 9, 2017, Florida Times-Union: “A report that looks at children’s quality of life in Florida paints a bleak economic picture for Duval County’s black children.  Florida Kids Count, released Monday, shows that black children represent a much larger percentage of poor children than their white and Hispanic peers…”