Racial Disparities in Subsidized Housing

  • The one area where racial disparities in housing have disappeared, By Tracy Jan, May 5, 2017, Washington Post: “Racial disparities in subsidized housing — which once saw poor black families overwhelmingly housed in large public developments — have essentially disappeared after decades of inequality, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University researchers. But low-income black families are still far more likely than poor whites to live in segregated, impoverished neighborhoods…”
  • Better housing as a path out of poverty: a tough test in Houston, By Simon Montlake, May 4, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Iyoba Moshay had just started her shift when she got a text from Alvin, her 7th-grade son. His school was on lockdown after a shooting, he said. There was a body prone on the street outside, visible from his classroom window. Ms. Moshay gulped, and went back to her job tending bar downtown at the Houston Astros’ stadium. It was the second shooting that month near the school, which has an F grade from Texas regulators. For Moshay, a single mother, it was one more reason to wish she could move to a different part of town, far from the crime and poverty of her all-minority neighborhood…”

Financial Stress Among Native Americans

Study shows high levels of financial distress among Native Americans, By David Erickson, May 2, 2017, Missoulian: “The use of high-cost borrowing methods such as payday loans and a lack of retirement and college savings plans may be keeping many in Montana’s Native American population in an endless cycle of poverty. There are more than 62,000 Native Americans in Montana, making up 6.6 percent of the state’s population, and a new national study has found that they are more likely to have high levels of financial distress compared to other demographic groups…”

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…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

New St. Louis minimum wage goes into effect Friday, By Kevin McDermott, May 4, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “The city’s new minimum wage of $10 per hour for most jobs will take effect Friday, Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office announced today. The ordinance for the new wage — which is well above the minimum of $7.70 in the rest of Missouri and $8.25 in neighboring downstate Illinois — was passed in 2015 but held up in court until now. Under the ordinance, the wage will rise again on Jan. 1, 2018, to $11 an hour…”

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…”

Affordable Housing Projects

Talk of federal tax cuts chills affordable housing market, By Elaine S. Povich, April 25, 2017, Stateline: “The planned A.O. Flats housing development in this city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood was billed as an oasis for low- and middle-income families, a place where they could get affordable housing in an increasingly affluent area. Financing was nearly in place and construction was set to begin until President Donald Trump and Congress started talking right after the election about delivering the biggest overhaul of the federal tax code in more than 30 years. Those plans include simplifying tax law as well as cutting taxes, especially for the better-off and for corporations. Suddenly, because of the proposed slash in corporate tax rates, federal low-income housing tax credits, the key to financing almost every affordable housing project in the nation, looked like they might be worth less to investors…”

LIHEAP and Native Americans

Native American tribes fear end of federal heating help, Associated Press, April 15, 2017, Billings Gazette: “Eva Iyotte was waiting on propane ordered under a federal energy assistance program President Donald Trump has targeted for elimination when she lost power at her home on frozen tribal land in South Dakota.  As the January conditions sent temperatures plummeting inside the house, the 63-year-old, her daughter and two grandsons took blankets to their car, where they waited with the heater running until the electricity was restored…”

School Voucher Programs

Nation’s only federally funded voucher program has negative effect on student achievement, study finds, By Emma Brown and Mandy McLaren, April 27, 2017, Washington Post: “Students in the nation’s only federally funded school voucher initiative performed worse on standardized tests within a year after entering D.C. private schools than peers who did not participate, according to a new federal analysis that comes as President Trump is seeking to pour billions of dollars into expanding the private school scholarships nationwide.  The study, released Thursday by the Education Department’s research division, follows several other recent studies of state-funded vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio that suggested negative effects on student achievement…”

Basic-Income Program – Ontario, CA

4,000 Canadian families will soon get paid by Ontario for doing nothing, By Alan Freeman, April 27, 2017, Washington Post: “The government of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is joining the basic-income bandwagon with the launch of a three-year pilot program that will test how paying people an unconditional basic wage works in practice…”

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…”

Child Poverty in the US

UNH study: Child poverty racial disparities persist, April 18, 2107, Foster’s Daily Democrat: “A University of New Hampshire study has found that child poverty continues to decline, but racial-ethnic disparities persist.  Between 2014 and 2015 child poverty fell for all race-ethnicities except Asians, but patterns in levels and characteristics of child poverty persist, according to researchers at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire…”

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…”

Early Childhood Education

How child care enriches mothers, and especially the sons they raise, By Claire Cain Miller, April 20, 2017, New York Times: “As many American parents know, hiring care for young children during the workday is punishingly expensive, costing the typical family about a third of its income. Helping parents pay for that care would be expensive for society, too. Yet recent studies show that of any policy aimed to help struggling families, aid for high-quality care has the biggest economic payoff for parents and their children — and even their grandchildren. It has the biggest positive effect on women’s employment and pay. It’s especially helpful for low-income families, because it can propel generations of children toward increased earnings, better jobs, improved health, more education and decreased criminal activity as adults…”

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…”

State SNAP programs

Republicans hope Trump amenable to food stamp restrictions, By Marina Villeneuve (AP), April 8, 2017, Denver Post: “Maine resident Zak McCutcheon says he likes soda but acknowledges he’d drink less of it if his governor convinced Republican President Donald Trump to put restrictions on the approximately $200 a month he receives in food stamps. He thinks it may even make recipients healthier and less overweight.  ‘If I was more restricted to what I could buy, I would become more of a veggie eater,’ said McCutcheon, who recently perused grapes and packages of pre-chopped vegetables at an Augusta food bank with his pregnant girlfriend.  But another one of Maine’s 180,000 food stamp recipients, Samantha Watson, said she believes a ban from using food stamps on soda and candy won’t make low-income people any healthier. It would take more than that to change eating habits, she said, since food stamps cover only a fraction of the monthly grocery bill for herself and her 3-year-old daughter…”