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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Medicaid and Maternity Care – Alabama

Some Medicaid mothers must wait weeks, months before first doctor’s visit, By Anna Claire Vollers, May 8, 2017, AL.com: “When Katie Silvia learned she was pregnant in November 2016, her first call wasn’t to her obstetrician – it was to the Alabama Medicaid office. Her husband had received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama that his insurance, a Blue Cross plan purchased through the health exchange, was not going to cover her pregnancy because their income level qualified her for pregnancy Medicaid. But according to doctors and patients, Alabama’s complex maternity Medicaid process can mean some moms don’t get their first OBGYN appointment until they’re well into their second trimester, 13 or more weeks into their pregnancies…”

State Medicaid Programs – Florida, Ohio, Indiana

  • Florida deal would reverse key part of Obama’s Medicaid expansion, By Robert Pear, April 30, 2017, New York Times: “The Trump administration appears to have scrapped one of the key tools the Obama administration used to encourage states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The shift involves funding that the federal government provides to help hospitals defray the cost of caring for low-income people who are uninsured. Under a deal with Florida, the federal government has tentatively agreed to provide additional money for the state’s ‘low-income pool,’ in a reversal of the previous administration’s policy…”
  • Ohio GOP renews fight over Medicaid, By Jessie Balmert, May 1, 2017, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Republican lawmakers have backed off from an attempt by some to kill Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid to lower-income Ohioans, but they are battling to rein it in. A new Ohio House proposal would force the Medicaid director to get approval for Medicaid expansion money every six months. To get the money, the director would go before the Controlling Board, a panel of six lawmakers and a Kasich appointee – the same group Kasich leveraged in 2013 when his party would not move the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare through the Legislature…”
  • How Medicaid can help you find a job, or get a ride, or land a free cellphone, By Shari Rudavsky, May 4, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “When Leona Cullen moved to Noblesville from Hawaii in December, she knew she would need health insurance in her new home. She also knew she would need a job. What she didn’t know was that an Indiana Medicaid provider could help her achieve both those goals. One month away from giving birth, Cullen, 42, visited a hospital emergency room in January, where staff helped her sign up for CareSource’s Healthy Indiana Plan. Not only did the plan cover the medical expenses associated with the birth of her daughter at the end of January, it also connected Cullen with Jessica Rockhill, a life coach who helped her organize her life…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care – Minnesota

Feds warn Minnesota: Improve kids’ dental care in Medicaid, By Glenn Howatt, May 1, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota has been warned that its main government health insurance program risks losing federal funding if it doesn’t provide more preventive dental care to children. The problem is familiar to many families on Medical Assistance: Many dentists don’t accept new patients covered by the program because Minnesota pays some of the lowest dental reimbursement rates in the country…”

Pediatric Hunger Screening – Delaware

Delaware pediatricians now screen for hunger, By Alonzo Small, May 1, 2017, News Journal: “Delaware pediatric health care practices believe the answer to ending food insecurity in Delaware is asking the right questions. Along with general inquiries about vaccines and other medical issues designed to pick up areas of medial concern, many family doctors and pediatricians now screen for a far simpler, more direct question: Do you have enough to eat..?”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

  • Percentage of Colorado kids in poverty drops to about 15 percent, By Jennifer Brown, April 27, 2017, Denver Post: “The percentage of Colorado children living in poverty is declining, but is still too high with an estimated 180,000 kids growing up in families at or below the federal poverty line, or about $24,000 for a family of four, according to the latest Kids Count report…”
  • Montezuma County’s child poverty rate nearly double state average, By Jacob Klopfenstein, April 27, 2017, The Journal: “More Montezuma County children are affected by poverty on average, and more are born into high-risk situations than the state as a whole, according to a new report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Every year, the group releases the ‘Kids Count in Colorado’ report, which tracks child wellbeing at the state and county levels. This year’s edition is mostly based on data from 2015…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Work requirements for Florida Medicaid recipients move forward in House, By Michael Auslen, April 26, 2017, Miami Herald: “Some low-income people who rely on Medicaid may have to meet new work requirements to keep their healthcare under legislation passed by the Florida House on Wednesday. Medicaid recipients who are able to work would have to prove to the state that they are working, actively seeking work or enrolled in a job-training program. It wouldn’t apply to people with disabilities, the elderly and children, groups that make up the majority of Florida’s Medicaid enrollment…”
  • Study: Nearly all Ohio Medicaid expansion enrollees would lose coverage if expansion is repealed, By Maria Castellucci, April 26, 2017, Crain’s Cleveland Business: “About 95% of Medicaid expansion beneficiaries in Ohio would have no insurance option available if repealing the Affordable Care Act eliminates Medicaid expansion, according to a new study…”
  • Unemployed Ohioans would lose healthcare coverage under proposed changes to Medicaid expansion, By Ginger Christ, April 28, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “A new state budget proposal presented in the Ohio House of Representatives would limit the number of people eligible for Medicaid through the expansion. The proposed budget would only cover under the expansion those who are 55 or older or medically fragile, employed, enrolled in a workforce training program or a recovery program…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug tests for Medicaid recipients, By Astead W. Herndon, April 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “Low-income residents seeking government help in Wisconsin often slog through a frustrating, outdated bureaucracy at a run-down state building in Milwaukee, enduring a process that generates complaints about the difficulties of signing up for food assistance, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid. Now, in a first-in-the-nation experiment, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plans to raise the bar higher for people seeking Medicaid, with an expansive program of mandatory drug screening, testing, and treatment as a condition of receiving benefits…”

Kids Count Report – Michigan

  • Kids Count Report: Ottawa County first in child well-being, poverty remains a statewide concern, By Erin Dietzer, April 18, 2017, Holland Sentinel: “Ottawa County is number one in child well-being, according to the 2017 Kids Count report. Kids Count, a report by the Michigan League for Public Policy that has been put out for 25 years, evaluates Michigan’s 83 counties based on 15 indicators across four main categories: economic security, health and safety, family and community and education. The 2017 book primarily compares date from 2008 to 2015…”
  • Muskegon County among worst in state for child well-being, study says, By Austin Denean, April 21, 2017, Muskegon Chronicle: “Muskegon County is one of the worst counties in the state when it comes to the overall well-being of its children, according to a study by the Michigan League for Public Policy. Out of the 82 counties in the state included in the study, Muskegon ranked 70th in overall well-being for children in the annual Kids Count Data Book…”

Lead Poisoning in Children – Los Angeles, CA

Lead poisons children in L.A. neighborhoods rich and poor, By Joshua Schneyer, April 21, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “With its century-old Spanish-style homes tucked behind immaculately trimmed hedges, San Marino, California, is among the most coveted spots to live in the Los Angeles area. Its public schools rank top in the state, attracting families affiliated with CalTech, the elite university blocks away. The city’s zoning rules promote a healthy lifestyle, barring fast food chains. Home values in L.A. County census tract 4641, in the heart of San Marino and 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, can rival those in Beverly Hills. The current average listing price: $2.9 million. But the area has another, unsettling distinction, unknown to residents and city leaders until now: More than 17 percent of small children tested here have shown elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to previously undisclosed L.A. County health data…”

Ex-Offenders and Employment

Matching ex-offenders with hard-to-fill health care jobs, By Sophie Quinton, April 19, 2017, Stateline: “Collie Thomas sat in the courtyard outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital and marveled at her luck. She works as an orderly in one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country. She was promoted about a year ago. She just moved into a snug new row house. ‘I stayed 10 years in prison, and I worked hard in prison for like a dollar, dollar fifty — for so little,’ said Thomas, 51, her bedazzled pink smartphone glinting in the April sunshine. ‘So when you get these kinds of jobs here, you work your best.’  With unemployment falling and workers hard to find, a growing number of health care employers are following Johns Hopkins’ lead and giving people with criminal records a second chance — hiring them mainly into entry-level jobs in food service, janitorial services and housekeeping. Studies show that employees with records stay in their jobs longer and are no more likely to commit workplace crimes than hires without them…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Advocates worry Medicaid patients may not be aware of changes to system, By Samantha Liss, April 16, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “On May 1, 250,000 additional Medicaid recipients in Missouri will be enrolled in a managed care system, and advocates and health policy experts say they are worried that not enough has been done to make them aware of the changes. Patients could fall through the cracks because of the confusion, say policy experts with the Missouri Foundation for Health…”
  • Wisconsin seeks to drug test some Medicaid enrollees, By David Wahlberg, April 18, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Childless adults who sign up for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program would be screened for drug use and required to pay premiums under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to submit next month to the federal government. The state Department of Health Services released a summary of the proposal Monday…”
  • Gov. Matt Bevin’s likely Medicaid shake-up scares Kentucky patients, By Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Before he got dental coverage, David Thompson, who works at various construction jobs, said he suffered for years with untreated dental pain and decay. ‘I’d go to work and the pain would be so excruciating that I would literally at lunch go in the parking lot and pull my own teeth,’ said Thompson, 49, who lives in South Louisville. Now, having just gained health coverage through Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Thompson is hurrying to schedule dental and eye exams — care he said he urgently needs but realizes could be eliminated under major changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin…”

Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Under Trump, states may demand work for Medicaid, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), April 20, 2017, San Francisco Chronicle: “Work requirements for Medicaid could lead to major changes in the social safety net under President Donald Trump. It sounds like a simple question: Should adults who are able to work be required to do so to get taxpayer provided health insurance? The federal-state Medicaid program for low-income and disabled people covers more than 70 million U.S. residents — about 1 in 5 — including an increasing number of working-age adults. In a break from past federal policy, the Health and Human Services department under Secretary Tom Price has already notified governors it stands ready to approve state waivers for ‘meritorious’ programs that encourage work…”
  • Medicaid may require work, payments from the poor, as Indiana tried, By Jayne O’Donnell, April 18, 2017, USA Today: “Katie Josway is a liberal musician and massage therapist in a conservative state that gave her health care coverage two years ago. She has to make monthly payments and can lose her plan if she misses one. She’s fine with that. There’s a ‘common misperception’ that people who need government assistance are looking for a handout, she says. ‘We are all doing the best we can,’ says Josway, who turns 31 Wednesday. ‘Instilling a little bit of accountability and cutting people a break where needed will lead to a better functioning and happier society.’ Far more people may also have to adjust to the new reality of formerly free health coverage through Medicaid: It will cost money…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • Uninsured rate for poor, childless adults declines, By Michael Ollove, April 10, 2017, Stateline: “As the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress explore ways of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a new study shows how beneficial the law has been to poor adults who don’t have children.  The study by the Urban Institute found that between 2013 and 2015, the rate of poor, childless adults without health insurance fell by 47.1 percent…”
  • Maps show a dramatic rise in health insurance coverage under ACA, By Alyson Hurt, Juan Elosua and Rebecca Hersher, National Public Radio: “New data from the U.S. Census Bureau presents the most detailed picture yet of the dramatic rise in the number of people covered by health insurance since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. County-level data going back to 2010, when the law was signed, shows a patchwork of people living without health insurance that ticked down slowly for the first three years under the ACA. But, once the online insurance exchanges opened at the end of 2013 and Medicaid expanded, the population living without coverage dropped noticeably…”

Medicaid Expansion – Louisiana

Poll: Louisiana residents largely support Medicaid expansion but find ‘Obamacare’ unfavorable, By Elizabeth Crisp, April 11, 2017, Baton Rouge Advocate: “Nearly three-fourths of Louisiana residents approve of the state’s decision to expand Medicaid, a new poll suggests, even as President Donald Trump, who remains widely popular in the state, continues his quest to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act that made expansion possible.  The 2017 Louisiana Survey’s findings on health care suggest a disconnect in the relationship between Medicaid health care coverage and the ACA…”