Disability Financial Assistance – Ohio

Ohio budget bill ended cash assistance program for people with disabilities, By Jackie Borchardt, August 7, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers last month quietly eliminated a state safety net program that provided cash benefits to about 6,000 disabled Ohioans with little or no income.  The state stopped accepting new applications for the Disability Financial Assistance program July 1 — a change buried in the 3,300-page state budget bill…”

Rural Employment

  • In search of rural jobs, states weigh strategy with checkered past, By Jen Fifield, March 30, 2017, Stateline: “In rural communities across the country, jobs are disappearing and people are moving away, driving a desperation that helped elect Donald Trump president. But as state lawmakers look for ways to bring life to these long-struggling areas, many are falling prey to a complex economic development approach, pushed hard by investment firms that stand to benefit, that has failed to live up to its promises…”
  • Disabled, or just desperate?, By Terrence McCoy, March 30, 2017, Washington Post: “The lobby at the pain-management clinic had become crowded with patients, so relatives had gone outside to their trucks to wait, and here, too, sat Desmond Spencer, smoking a 9 a.m. cigarette and watching the door. He tried stretching out his right leg, knowing these waits can take hours, and winced. He couldn’t sit easily for long, not anymore, and so he took a sip of soda and again thought about what he should do.  He hadn’t had a full-time job in a year. He was skipping meals to save money. He wore jeans torn open in the front and back. His body didn’t work like it once had. He limped in the days, and in the nights, his hands would swell and go numb, a reminder of years spent hammering nails. His right shoulder felt like it was starting to go, too…”

Income and Savings of People with Disabilities

These government rules trap millions of Americans in poverty, By Ben Steverman, August 2, 2016, Bloomberg: “Susanne Brasset has $5 in her bank account. She’s scared to save more.  Brasset, a 39-year-old freelance photographer in Denver, has cerebral palsy, which limits her ability to work. To pay her bills, she relies on Social Security, which she gets because of her disability. But the program monitors her bank accounts to make sure she’s not putting away too much money. With more than a few thousand in the bank, she’d be disqualified for the program, as well as for Medicaid and other crucial benefits. Unable to plan for the future, Brasset said her finances put her in a ‘constant state of anxiety and fear…'”

Disability and Poverty

Why disability and poverty still go hand in hand 25 years after landmark law, By Pam Fessler, July 23, 2015, National Public Radio: “If you have a disability in the U.S., you’re twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. You’re also far more likely to be unemployed. And that gap has widened in the 25 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted.  ‘Every man, woman and child with a disability can now pass through once-closed doors into a bright new era of equality, independence and freedom,’ President George H.W. Bush said when he signed the bill into law on July 26, 1990.  The ADA banned discrimination based on disability and was intended to ensure equal opportunity in employment — as well as government services and public accommodations, commercial facilities and public transportation.  But it hasn’t always worked that way, especially when it comes to expanding economic opportunity for the 58 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities…”

Disability and Poverty

  • Disability makes poverty likelier than ever: report, By Olivia Carville, September 25, 2014, Toronto Star: “Being disabled is increasingly a trigger for poverty and hunger, according to a new report profiling food bank clients across the GTA. The percentage of disabled people lining up at food banks has almost doubled since 2005, the Daily Bread Food Bank’s Who’s Hungry report states. Disability beneficiaries receive so little money from Ontario’s social welfare programs they are forced to live in poverty, Daily Bread executive director Gail Nyberg said…”
  • People with disability ‘twice as likely to experience poverty’ – charity, By Geraldine Gittens, September 24, 2014, Irish Independent: “People with a disability are twice as likely to experience poverty due to the extra costs they incur, a charity has warned. There is ‘substantial evidence’ that the additional costs of having a disability can place a household ‘at significant risk of poverty and deprivation’, according to new research acquired by Inclusion Ireland…”

Children’s Supplemental Security Income Program

Aid to disabled children now outstrips welfare, By Patricia Wen, August 28, 2014, Boston Globe: “A controversial federal benefits program provided about $20 billion to low-income families with disabled children over the last two years, quietly eclipsing traditional welfare programs to become the biggest source of monthly cash for the nation’s poorest families, new data shows. The dramatic growth of the children’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has led some researchers to suggest it has simply replaced welfare as a primary source of cash for many families who lost benefits due to the much-touted welfare reforms of the mid-1990s. The expansion also comes amid a growing recognition among lawmakers and policy analysts that children’s disabilities, especially harder-to-assess ones like ADHD, have become a gateway to receive the best government cash benefits available today, and this trend deserves closer study…”

Social Security Disability Insurance

The Social Security cash crunch Congress can’t ignore, By Jeanne Sahadi, June 17, 2014, CNN Money: “It’s highly unlikely that Congress will reform Social Security any time soon. But there is a near-term cash crunch in one part of Social Security that lawmakers must resolve in the next year or two. The trust fund for Social Security disability benefits, which is separate from the fund for retirement benefits, is on track to be insolvent — most likely by the end of 2016 but no later than 2017. So unless Congress acts to replenish the fund beforehand, the program will only be able to pay an estimated 80% of promised benefits to 8.8 million disabled workers, plus the benefits paid to their spouses and dependents if the disabled worker was the primary breadwinner. . .”

Medicaid and Medicare Dual Eligibles – California

Low-income California seniors to move into new managed care plan, By Anna Gorman, March 27, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “In a major shift triggered by the national healthcare law, nearly half a million low-income California seniors and disabled patients will begin moving into a new managed care program this fall. The patients, who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare, are among the most costly in the state. Officials believe that the program, Cal MediConnect, will reduce spending and improve care by shifting the patients out of a fragmented system and into one that is more coordinated. The state and the federal government signed an agreement Wednesday officially establishing a test program for the patients, known as dual eligibles…”

Medicaid and Long-Term Care

With Medicaid, long-term care of elderly looms as a rising cost, By Nina Bernstein, September 6, 2012, New York Times: “Medicaid has long conjured up images of inner-city clinics jammed with poor families. Its far less-visible role is as the only safety net for millions of middle-class people whose needs for long-term care, at home or in a nursing home, outlast their resources. With baby boomers and their parents living longer than ever, few families can count on their own money to go the distance. So while Medicare has drawn more attention in the election campaign, seniors and their families may have even more at stake in the future of Medicaid changes – those proposed, and others already under way. Though former President Bill Clinton overstated in his convention speech on Wednesday how much Medicaid spends on the elderly in nursing homes – they account for well under a third, not nearly two-thirds, of spending – Medicaid spends more than five times as much on each senior in long-term care as it does on each poor child, and even more per person on the disabled in long-term care…”

Homeless Advocacy Project – Philadelphia, PA

Pa. cuts funding for Phila. program for the disabled homeless, By Alfred Lubrano, August 24, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Corbett administration has cut funding for a Philadelphia program nationally lauded as the ‘gold standard’ for helping disabled homeless people get federal benefits. On May 31, the state’s Department of Public Welfare gave Philadelphia’s Homeless Advocacy Project one month’s notice that it was eliminating $722,000 used to help obtain Supplemental Security Income (SSI) money for homeless or near-homeless people who had exceeded their five-year limit for welfare benefits. Many of the people don’t have the mental capacity to work. SSI provides disability income and benefits. The Department of Public Welfare made the cut because the state is ‘reprioritizing’ funding toward programs that emphasize work, DPW spokeswoman Carey Miller said. By taking money from the Homeless Advocacy Project, ‘we will be able to focus better on job placement and retention,’ Miller said…”

General Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania General Assistance program ends today, By Clara Ritger, August 1, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “With Gerald Ragin’s state cash assistance set to end today, the 46-year-old McKeesport resident will be spending the day with a caseworker, filling out an application for federal disability benefits. Welfare advocates say that he may be waiting a long time for help, because his main option for replacing his monthly state General Assistance checks could take at least a year to enroll. In the meantime, he and 61,000 other Pennsylvanians will no longer receive approximately $200 in monthly benefits due to state budget cuts. Those who qualified for aid through the General Assistance program included disabled or sick unemployed adults without dependent children, domestic violence survivors and adults participating in drug and alcohol treatment programs…”

Health Coverage for the Poor – Pennsylvania

  • U.S. agency asks about sharp drop in Pa.’s Medicaid rolls, By Angela Couloumbis, July 12, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania has dropped tens of thousands of people from its Medicaid rolls since last summer – and now the Obama administration wants to know if the state wrongly cut off those benefits. The federal agency that oversees how states administer Medicaid sent a letter last month to the Department of Public Welfare saying initial data showed 130,000 people, including 89,000 children, had been dropped from state Medicaid rolls between August and January. Those people were dropped, noted the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, when DPW was struggling with a backlog, leaving it unable to sort through all the information people had submitted in efforts to qualify for the benefit…”
  • Pa. eliminating easy stopgap health coverage for poor, By Miriam Hill, July 9, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “If you are poor in Pennsylvania and temporarily disabled, a health-care worker can fill out a one-page form that qualifies you to receive medical care paid for by the state. But that is changing under a new policy, requiring more paperwork, that Gov. Corbett is implementing, arguing that it will save taxpayers money without denying significant numbers of people medical care. Health-care workers and advocates for the poor, however, say the new policy could leave thousands of people without needed care and drive up medical costs in the long run…”

Medicaid Reform – Georgia

  • Reshaping Medicaid care to affect many, By Carrie Teegardin and Misty Williams, June 3, 2012, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia is reshaping its Medicaid program, a complex lifeline for 1.7 million vulnerable people that consumes $21 million in state and federal dollars every single day. The state is widely expected to announce a plan this summer that would dramatically expand the use of for-profit insurance companies in a new approach to managing Medicaid. The hope: that the companies would help hold down burgeoning Medicaid costs by emphasizing prevention and better tracking and coordinating care. That should mean fewer poor, disabled and elderly Georgians end up in emergency rooms, that more psychiatric patients remain stable and that doctors share test results instead of ordering duplicates that taxpayers wind up funding…”
  • Medicaid more than medical aid, By Misty Williams and Carrie Teegardin, June 4, 2012, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “People like Francel Kendrick once spent most of their lives locked inside state hospitals. Today, because of Georgia’s Medicaid program, Kendrick and thousands of disabled people like him can hold down a job and ride a city bus to their own homes after work. Medicaid isn’t just a health plan for low-income people. These days, it’s a job training program, relief for a mom with an autistic son and crisis teams to help someone with schizophrenia live a stable life in the community. State health officials who are redesigning the state’s $7.8 billion Medicaid program face an especially tricky task in dealing with recipients who rely on this broad spectrum of services. They are Georgians with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses, as well as foster children and people with disabling physical conditions that keep them in bed or in wheelchairs…”

State Medicaid Cuts – Illinois

  • Legislature OKs Medicaid cuts; no vote yet on cigarette tax, By Doug Finke and Chris Wetterich, May 24, 2012, State Journal-Register: “The Illinois House and Senate on Thursday passed pieces of a Medicaid overhaul, including legislation slashing $1.6 billion from the program. Gov. Pat Quinn praised legislators but said their work won’t be complete until they pass a $1-per-pack cigarette tax. ‘Raising the price of cigarettes is also sound health policy. Smoking-related conditions are a significant burden on our Medicaid system, and this measure will improve the health of our people and reduce future Medicaid costs,’ he said in a statement. The House voted 94-22 and the Senate voted 44-13 to adopt the cuts in Senate Bill 2840, which range from outright elimination of some programs – like Illinois Cares Rx, a prescription drug assistance program for seniors – to taking extra steps to ensure that those receiving aid are entitled to it. The bill now heads to Quinn’s desk…”
  • Illinois Legislature passes $1.6 billion in Medicaid cuts, By Ray Long and Alissa Groeninger, May 25, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Hundreds of thousands of poor Illinoisans would lose health coverage, prescription drug discounts for seniors would be dropped and dental care for adults would be greatly curtailed as part of $1.6 billion in budget cuts lawmakers approved Thursday. The major Medicaid reductions ignited anger in some lawmakers who say the cutbacks will jeopardize the lives of the state’s most vulnerable residents. ‘I don’t know where it’s written in the law that this has to be balanced on the backs of poor people, on the backs of seniors, on the backs of the aged, blind and disabled,’ said Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago. But supporters argued failure to approve the bill could lead to cuts throughout state government and result in the collapse of the entire Medicaid system…”

General Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Cash aid for disabled adults on state chopping block, Associated Press, May 16, 2012, Patriot-News: “A decades-old program that provides about $200 a month for tens of thousands of disabled adults who can’t work is on the chopping block even as improving tax collections give state lawmakers the freedom to reverse some of Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed cuts in spending for things like universities, the race horse industry and the Legislature itself. Corbett, a Republican who ran on a no-new-taxes pledge, advocated doing away with the $150 million General Assistance cash benefit in a $27.1 billion budget plan he released in February. It called for a series of cutbacks he blamed largely on the rising cost of pensions and health care for the poor…”

Low-Income Students and Special Education Placement – Massachusetts

Special education policies in Mass. reviewed, By James Vaznis, April 23, 2012, Boston Globe: “Low-income school districts are most likely to place students in special education programs for mild and sometimes questionable disabilities, a practice that has swelled the state’s special education population to one of the highest rates in the nation, according to a first-of-a-kind study commissioned by the state. The study – to be presented at a state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting Monday night – is expected to provoke debate over whether low-income districts are placing students in special education because of legitimate disabilities or because of weak academic programs that cause students to fall behind, or because some teachers want unruly students out of their classrooms. That low-income districts are more likely to identify special education students debunks a long-held belief in Massachusetts that it is the savvy, well-heeled parents in wealthier districts who have been pushing up special education rates as they demand advantages for their children, such as extra academic support and waivers from time limits on standardized tests…”

Medicare/Medicaid Dual Eligibility and Managed Care – California

State takes step to shift some of poorest, sickest to managed care, By Anna Gorman, April 5, 2012, Los Angeles Times: “California is beginning the process of shifting 1.1 million of the state’s sickest and poorest patients into managed care, which healthcare officials say will cut costs and improve treatment. The move is part of a broader state plan to continue moving residents with publicly funded health coverage into managed care, prompting concerns among critics who fear that patients could lose their current doctors. State officials announced Wednesday that Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and San Mateo will be the first counties to provide managed care to the patients, who are enrolled in both the federally run Medicare and the state-federal Medi-Cal program…”

Medicaid and Adult Care – North Carolina

Medicaid deadline jeopardizes residents of adult care homes, By Lynn Bonner, March 14, 2012, Charlotte Observer: “Thousands of families could soon be scrambling to find care for relatives living in the state’s adult care homes if the state continues to violate federal rules. The federal government has given the state Department of Health and Human Services until April 30 to have an approved Medicaid plan for people receiving personal care services. State officials acknowledge that they won’t meet the deadline and are working for an extension. If the state doesn’t get the extra time, thousands of people in adult care homes could be turned out because their full costs won’t be paid – about 20,300 people on Medicaid receive personal care services in adult care homes and about 25,500 receive in-home services. People receiving personal care at home would lose their services, too…”

State Budget Cuts and Disability

  • NH joins Idaho in new welfare limits for disabled, By Norma Love (AP), February 19, 2012, Idaho Statesman: “Legally blind since she was 9, Chrissy Fairbanks just got word she’s losing the $363 state welfare check she got each month from New Hampshire because she gets federal assistance due to her disability. The 31-year-old Keene resident says her girls, ages 11 and 12, are taking the news well that their clothes will come from the clearance rack and there will be no more trips to the ice skating rink. ‘I already sat down with the girls and told them we were going to have a budget cut. The grabbing something to eat when we go out walking isn’t going to happen,’ she said. Of the 5,600 New Hampshire families that receive state welfare assistance, Fairbanks is among 1,136 families who will lose that aid because the state is counting Supplemental Security Income for residents too disabled to work in calculating their welfare grant. Another 420 people will receive reduced welfare benefits as a result, said state Family Assistance Director Terry Smith…”
  • Lawmakers urged to revoke 20 percent pay cut on personal care assistants, By Elizabeth Dunbar, February 17, 2012, Minnesota Public Radio: ” Some personal care assistants in Minnesota are urging lawmakers to revoke a new law that cuts their pay by 20 percent. More than 17,000 Minnesotans with disabilities rely on personal care assistants to help them with everyday tasks like eating and getting dressed. In about a third of the cases, family members are paid to provide this care to their adult relatives. To help balance the state’s budget last year, the Legislature reduced personal care assistant wages paid to family members. A judge has temporarily blocked the cut. But personal care assistants say lawmakers still need to find a permanent fix…”