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…’”

Medicaid Coverage

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

South Jersey counties fall behind in safety, economics and education, Kids Count report shows, By Claire Lowe, July 10, 2017, Press of Atlantic City: “Cape May County has the highest rates of juvenile arrest and child abuse and neglect in the state, according to the latest data from the New Jersey Kids Count report. The rankings, released Monday, compare New Jersey counties on 12 measures of child well-being and across four domains: economics, health, safety and well-being, and education…”

Poverty and Brain Development

How poverty affects the brain, By Carina Storrs, July 12, 2017, Nature: “In the late 1960s, a team of researchers began doling out a nutritional supplement to families with young children in rural Guatemala. They were testing the assumption that providing enough protein in the first few years of life would reduce the incidence of stunted growth. It did. Children who got supplements grew 1 to 2 centimetres taller than those in a control group. But the benefits didn’t stop there. The children who received added nutrition went on to score higher on reading and knowledge tests as adolescents, and when researchers returned in the early 2000s, women who had received the supplements in the first three years of life completed more years of schooling and men had higher incomes…”

Medicaid and Addiction Treatment

Medicaid expansion has delivered access to addiction treatment, report finds, By Sarah Fentem, July 7, 2017, National Public Radio: “This week, as senators have decamped from Washington for the Fourth of July recess, the future of the Senate’s Affordable Care Act replacement plan — and by extension, Medicaid — remains uncertain. Just days before the recess, a report from the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank, detailed big increases in Medicaid spending on opioid addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a trend that could be reversed if the Senate’s plan passes…”

State Medicaid Programs

States move to tighten Medicaid enrollment, even without a new health law, By Charles Ornstein, July 6, 2017, National Public Radio: “No corner of the health care system would be harder hit than Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, if Republican leaders in Congress round up the votes to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act. GOP lawmakers have proposed winding down the Medicaid expansion that added 17 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA, and also eventually capping the program’s spending per capita…”

Rural Health Care

  • Deaths from cancer higher in rural America, CDC finds, By Lena H. Sun, July 6, 2017, Washington Post: “Despite decreases in cancer death rates nationwide, a new report shows they are higher in rural America than in urban areas of the United States. The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that rural areas had higher rates of new cases as well as of deaths from cancers related to tobacco use, such as lung and laryngeal cancers, and those that can be prevented by screening, such as colorectal and cervical cancers…”
  • Kids in pro-Trump rural areas have a lot to lose if GOP rolls back Medicaid, By Noam Levey, July 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Communities like this aging West Virginia coal town along the Kanawha River were key to President Trump’s victory last year; more than two-thirds of voters in surrounding Fayette County backed the Republican nominee. Now, families in this rural county and hundreds like it that supported Trump face the loss of a critical safety net for children as congressional Republicans move to cut hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade from Medicaid, the half-century-old government health plan for the poor…”

Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is straining the nation’s foster-care systems, By Perry Stein and Lindsey Bever, July 1, 2017, Washington Post: “Deb McLaughlin’s 3-year-old grandson climbed all over her, pleading to play trucks, restless as always. Her 1-year-old foster daughter, who had just woken from a midday nap, sat in her lap, wearing a frilly dress and an irresistible smile. At least McLaughlin doesn’t have to worry about the daily shots of methadone anymore, at least these babies no longer scream and shake for the opioids to which they were born addicted. This isn’t what McLaughlin envisioned for her empty nest years in rural Maine, trading camping and four-wheeling trips for social-worker check-ins, meetings with behavioral therapists and supervised visits with the drug-addicted biological parents who had to give up these children. McLaughlin’s daughter, who once dreamed of being a lawyer, is one of the millions of Americans addicted to opioids and one of thousands of parents whom state governments have deemed unfit to care for their own children…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • From birth to death, Medicaid affects the lives of millions, By Alison Kodjak, June 27, 2017, National Public Radio: “Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor.  That’s the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it has become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Barack Obama expanded Medicaid under his signature health care law to cover 11 million more people, bringing the total number of people covered up to 69 million…”
  • For people who depend on Medicaid, proposed federal caps in health care plans instill fear, By Guy Boulton, June 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Aaron Christensen was born with a condition so rare that fewer than 100 people have been diagnosed and reported with it worldwide. The boy, now 6, has Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome, which is characterized by intellectual disability, distinctive facial and other physical features, and often seizures. When he was born, ‘everything kind of changed,’ said his mother, Sara Christensen. ‘We still don’t know what the future looks like.’ Aaron could depend on Medicaid to pay for all or most of his health care his entire life, through a special program. And that’s why they’re extremely anxious about congressional Republicans’ plans to cap what the federal government spends on Medicaid in future years…”
  • The who, what and how much of Mississippi Medicaid, By Sarah Fowler, June 28, 2017, Clarion-Ledger: “Each morning, Samantha Manning rushes to get her family ready for the day. Her eldest, 13-year-old Kennedy, is involved in a number of sports. Combine that with twin 8-year-old boys, and each day is different. Kennedy is a type 1 diabetic and goes to a small school that doesn’t have a nurse on staff. Because of the teen’s diabetes, the school’s policy demands one parent is present at all of her games…”
  • Veterans helped by Obamacare worry about Republican repeal efforts, By Stephanie O’Neill, June 28, 2017, National Public Radio: “Air Force veteran Billy Ramos, from Simi Valley, Calif., is 53 and gets health insurance for himself and for his family from Medicaid — the government insurance program for lower-income people. He says he counts on the coverage, especially because of his physically demanding work as a self-employed contractor in the heating and air conditioning business…”

US Teen Birth Rate

Birth rate among teenage girls reaches historic low, CDC says, By Shannon Gilchrist, June 30, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “The birth rate among American teenage girls has dropped to a historic low, according to government statistics released Friday. Births to American teens ages 15 to 19 fell 9 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate in 2016 — 20.3 babies per 1,000 females — marks a decrease of 51 percent from 2007 and 67 percent from 1991…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts would hit rural patients hard, By Bram Sable-Smith, June 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding…”
  • G.O.P. health plan is really a rollback of Medicaid, By Margot Sanger-Katz, June 20, 2017, New York Times: “Tucked inside the Republican bill to replace Obamacare is a plan to impose a radical diet on a 52-year-old program that insures nearly one in five Americans. The bill, of course, would modify changes to the health system brought by the Affordable Care Act. But it would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke…”
  • Republicans’ Medicaid rollback collides with opioid epidemic, By Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar (AP), June 20, 2017, ABC News: “The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama’s health care law is colliding with America’s opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties…”
  • How states like Kansas punish the poor for being both too poor and not poor enough, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 19, 2017, Washington Post: “Obamacare was designed to make it easier for poor Americans to buy insurance. In many states, though, the law has left a hole where less needy households can receive benefits, while millions of Americans living in poverty cannot. They are, in effect, too poor to get help…”
  • In expanding Medicaid, Utah wants to make some enrollees work and cap their lifetime coverage, By Alex Stuckey, June 20, 2017, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah health officials are proposing lifetime limits and work requirements for childless adults who would gain coverage under a Medicaid expansion plan, hoping the changes will help persuade the federal government to approve it…”
  • With Medicaid under the gun, new study highlights program’s successes in Cheshire County, By Ethan DeWitt, June 23, 2017, Keene Sentinel: “Amid fierce national clashes over the future of health care, and a new Republican bill unveiled Thursday, one federal program has proven a particular emotional flash point: Medicaid. Efforts to pare back the program, which provides coverage to low-income adults and children, have drawn alarm from Democrats and some Republican senators representing rural states…”

2017 Kids Count Data Book

  • Kentucky children make ‘undeniable’ health care gains, but advocates fear setback, By Deborah Yetter, June 13, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As a young mom, Savannah Wallace of Louisville knows the value of health care coverage for her baby boy. ‘It’s peace of mind,’ she said, holding 4-month-old William on her lap during a recent visit to the Family Health Center Iroquois clinic for a checkup. ‘You don’t have to worry where the money’s going to come from. He gets the health care he needs…'”
  • Tennessee moves to 35th for kids’ health and happiness, By Jason Gonzales, June 12, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee’s push to increase the number of students who attend college has helped increase the state’s standing on a national report that looks at the well-being of children…”
  • 2017 Kids Count report on Nevada is a mixed bag, By Amber Corbin, June 13, 2017, Las Vegas Sun: “The economic conditions of Nevada households with children continue to improve following the Great Recession, but the overall well-being of kids still lags far below the national average, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Southwestern states rank among lowest in child well-being, By Susan Montoya Bryan (AP), June 13, 2017, US News: “Three Southwestern states are ranked near the bottom when it comes to child well-being, with New Mexico the lowest among its neighbors. The annual Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks New Mexico 49th, ahead of only Mississippi. Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona fill in the rest of the five lowest rankings…”
  • Florida child poverty rate doesn’t budge, By Liz Freeman, June 13, 2017, Naples Daily News: “Florida children are not escaping poverty or making significant strides in school, two findings for why the state ranks 40th in overall child well-being for the second year in a row, according to a national report…”
  • D.C. has one of the highest rates of children with health insurance, report says, By Michael Alison Chandler, June 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The District has one of the highest rates of health-insured children, with 98 percent covered, according to the latest Kids Count annual survey released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Georgia children’s health factors improving but among U.S.’ lowest, By Ariel Hart, June 14, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia’s children rank among the nation’s least healthy, according to an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In only seven other states does a greater portion of the children lack health insurance. In only five other states are more babies born underweight. Georgia also ranked worse than the national average in several other categories related to children’s health and well-being, including deaths of minors…”
  • Report puts NC in the bottom half of the U.S. for child well-being, By Beth Walton, June 13, 2017, Asheville Citizen-Times: “A national group put North Carolina in the bottom half of U.S. states for child well-being, something local advocates say needs to change. The annual Kids Count Data book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • Charity care dips at Wisconsin hospitals, with more people insured; trend could end with Obamacare repeal, By David Wahlberg, June 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Hospitals in Madison and throughout Wisconsin have provided less charity care in recent years as more people have gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act, with some hospitals directing the savings to disease prevention. That could change if Congress overturns the law, known as Obamacare, and increases the ranks of the uninsured. And if Medicare payment cuts that helped pay for the law’s expanded coverage also remain, hospitals could end up shifting more costs to people with private insurance, officials say…”
  • What the Obamacare overhaul could mean for Texas’ terrible maternal mortality rate, By Katie Leslie, June 12, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas officials were already investigating why an alarming number of Lone Star women are dying from pregnancy-related complications when a study last year ranked the state’s maternal mortality rate as the nation’s worst. That’s why many doctors and health care advocates are watching Republican-led negotiations in Washington over replacing the Affordable Care Act, with some worried about what the changes could mean for Texas’ maternal health crisis…”
  • Nevada may become first state to offer Medicaid to all, regardless of income, By Alison Kodjak, June 13, 2017, National Public Radio: “Nevadans will find out this week whether their state will become the first in the country to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor and disabled…”
  • In Texas, people with erratic incomes risk being cut off from Medicaid, By Shefali Luthra, June 14, 2017, Iowa Public Radio: “Worries about whether her children can still get the health care they need are never far from Dawn Poole’s mind. It’s a constant, underlying concern. Much of her anxiety is a direct result of living in Texas. To qualify for Medicaid in the state, most children must come from families with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2017, that’s $33,948 for a family of four. Texas also has one of the country’s strictest Medicaid verification systems: It runs regular checks on family finances after children are enrolled to make sure they continue to qualify…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin submits request to drug test Medicaid applicants, By Scott Bauer (AP), June 7, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Wisconsin submitted a federal request Wednesday to become the first state in the country to drug test applicants for Medicaid health benefits. Republican Gov. Scott Walker expects President Donald Trump’s administration to approve the waiver, which would also impose new requirements on able-bodied, childless adults receiving Medicaid in the state. The request comes as Walker, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, prepares for a likely re-election bid…”

Medicaid Enrollment in Rural Areas

  • Trump’s base in rural America could be disproportionately hurt by Medicaid cuts, By Jose A. DelReal, June 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion disproportionately benefited rural Americans over their urban counterparts, according to a new report, and President Trump’s proposed cuts to the program could negatively affect millions of them who have come to rely on it for coverage…”
  • GOP Medicaid cuts hit rural U.S. hardest, report finds, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Rural America carried President Donald Trump to his election win in November. Trump Country it might be, but rural areas and small towns also make up Medicaid Country, those parts of the United States where low-income children and families are most dependent on the federal-state health insurance program, according to a report released Wednesday…”

Rich/Poor Health Disparities

U.S. one of world’s worst on health divide between rich, poor, By Sarah Toy, June 7, 2017, USA Today: “The U.S. has one of the world’s largest health disparities between the rich and poor — behind only Chile and Portugal — and its healthcare system and lack of social supports are to blame, experts say. Researchers examining surveys on health and income from people in 32 countries found poor Americans reported worse health than rich U.S. residents in significant numbers…”

State Medicaid Program – New Mexico

New Mexico considering changes to Medicaid program, By Susan Montoya Bryan (AP), June 2, 2017, Albuquerque Journal: “State officials say keeping costs down while improving the delivery of health care for New Mexico’s poorest residents is the focus as they propose changes to the Medicaid program to ensure sustainability as enrollment grows. More than a quarter-million state residents have enrolled since the program’s expansion in 2014. Now, more than 40 percent of children, the disabled and other low-income adults in New Mexico are covered…”

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…”

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…”