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…”

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…”

State Medicaid Program – Florida

On Medicaid? You may soon have to work or pay to keep benefits, By Michael Auslen, April 7, 2017, Miami Herald: “Medicaid recipients in Florida could soon have to meet work requirements and pay a premium to stay in the government-funded healthcare program. The Florida House is moving ahead with a plan to force able-bodied Medicaid recipients to prove they are employed, participating in job training or searching for work in order to receive benefits, the same requirements the state puts on welfare recipients. The House also wants to require most Medicaid recipients pay $10 or $15 a month, depending on their income…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Want Medicaid coverage? A drug test should come first, Wisconsin governor says, By Paige Winfield Cunningham, April 2, 2017, Washington Post: “Now that House Republicans have squandered their shot at reordering Medicaid, governors who want conservative changes in the health program for ­low-income Americans must get special permission from the Trump administration. Near the front of the line is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who not only supports work requirements and premium payments but also a new additional condition: to make applicants undergo a drug test if they’re suspected of substance abuse…”
  • In need of public assistance? You might need $40 and a drug test to get it., By Michael Auslen, March 13, 2017, Miami Herald: “Welfare recipients with a history of drug convictions could have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits under legislation pushed by two Tampa Bay lawmakers, a narrow rewrite of a much-maligned 2011 state law that federal judges threw out as unconstitutional…”
  • Few Maine welfare recipients tested for drugs despite state law, By Maria Villeneuve (AP), Portland Press Herald: “Republican Gov. Paul LePage has long contended that drug-testing welfare recipients will help protect taxpayers’ dollars, but only a handful have submitted to tests under the current law. His administration blames Democrats for the scant results…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

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…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Tens of thousands of Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage under fee proposal, By Catherine Candisky, April 7, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Gov. John Kasich’s administration projects tens of thousands of poor Ohioans will lose Medicaid coverage while taxpayers save nearly $1 billion under a plan to charge new fees for the government health coverage and impose penalties on those who miss payments.  The proposal, subject to federal approval, would require those being treated for breast and cervical cancer, teens coming out of foster care and other working-age, nondisabled adults on Medicaid to make monthly payments into a health-savings account to help cover their expenses beginning Jan. 1, 2018…”
  • Support for Medicaid copays plan is crumbling, By Kevin Litten, April 7, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Legislative support appears to be crumbling for plans to charge Medicaid recipients copays for receiving health care services. Gov. John Bel Edwards threw his support behind copays after Republicans pushed for the measure as part of Medicaid expansion.  But two legislators interviewed Wednesday (April 6) said there are serious doubts about whether there is enough support to get the plan out of committee after health care providers began lobbying against the bill. The House Health and Welfare Committee is scheduled to hear Medicaid copay bills Thursday…”
  • Florida deal could finally improve healthcare for poor children, By Carol Marbin Miller, April 5, 2016, Miami Herald: “Florida health administrators have agreed to settle a long-simmering lawsuit that claims the state’s Medicaid insurance program for needy children is so poorly funded and managed that impoverished youngsters are consigned to a second-rate healthcare system where long waits for access and substandard care are the norm.  A federal court judge in Miami sided with needy children and their doctors in a 153-page ruling in December 2014, saying state lawmakers had so starved the Florida Medicaid program of funding that it was operating in violation of federal law…”

Foster Care – Florida, Ohio, New York City

  • Rate of kids coming into Florida’s foster care rising, By Margie Menzel, November 28, 2015, Orlando Sentinel: “More children are coming into Florida’s foster-care system after a sweeping child-welfare reform law went into effect 19 months ago, but officials say the state is trying to focus on what’s best for kids in difficult situations…”
  • Ohio House approves bill to extend foster-care eligibility to 21-year-olds, By Jim Siegel and Rita Price, December 1, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “The Ohio House gave overwhelming support Tuesday to a bill designed to improve Ohio’s guardianship system and expand the age at which young Ohioans are eligible for foster care services.  But before House Bill 50 passed in an unusual process that included three committee votes, majority Republicans removed a bill of rights aimed at providing specific protections to 67,000 wards who are under court-appointed guardianship…”
  • New York City to stop sending older teens to foster-care intake center, By Mara Gay, December 1, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “New York City’s child-welfare agency plans to stop placing older youths in a single intake center on Manhattan’s East Side as they wait to be placed with foster families, and instead find temporary homes for them, city officials said…”

Unemployment Benefits – Florida

Florida’s unemployment benefits ‘virtually inaccessible,’ study finds, By Marcia Heroux Pounds, September 22, 2015, Sun Sentinel: “Fewer than one in eight unemployed workers in Florida receives jobless benefits, the result of a burdensome system that is “virtually inaccessible” for the average person out of work, a new report concludes. Florida, more than nearly any other state, has made it more difficult for laid-off workers to apply and qualify for unemployment benefits, the National Employment Law Project, an advocate for the unemployed, said in a report Tuesday…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

States watching Medicaid standoff between Florida, Obama, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), May 7, 2015, Miami Herald: “The Obama administration rebuffed Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to extend federal funds for hospitals that treat the uninsured, increasing the pressure on states that have refused to expand coverage for low-income people under the president’s health care law.  The decision means Florida’s already acrimonious state budget process will likely become tenser. The standoff also has implications for eight other states, including Texas, which draw billions of dollars from the same pool of hospital funds. And like Florida, several are also refusing to expand Medicaid coverage. Republican leaders in those states are adamant about not expecting any federal money tied to Obama’s Affordable Care Act…”

Miami Herald Series on Medicaid Coverage Gap

Life in Florida without Medicaid expansion, series homepage, Miami Herald: “For two years, Florida legislators have refused to expand Medicaid as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act. Their decision left an estimated 850,000 Floridians without healthcare insurance in the ‘coverage gap.’ Those caught in the gap earn too much to receive Medicaid, but not enough to qualify for subsidies to buy a plan through the federal marketplace. The Miami Herald looks at how these Floridians are coping and what other states are doing to close the gap…”

Income Gap – Florida

Income gap in Florida among highest in U.S., By Ledyard King, January 29, 2015, Florida Today: “Few states reflect the growing gap between the rich and not-so-rich as much as Florida, two studies released this week show. The wealthiest 1 percent of Floridians saw their incomes grow nearly 40 percent between 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended, and 2012, according to one analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. The analysis by the progressive Washington think tank showed that over the same period, other state residents saw their incomes decline an average 7.1 percent…”

Children’s Health Insurance Coverage

  • Children’s health program faces cloudy future under ACA, By Christine Vestal, December 4, 2014, Stateline: “The Children’s Health Insurance Program got a big boost under the Affordable Care Act, which called for an increase in federal funding for the program and required states to maintain 2010 enrollment levels through 2019. But in the waning days of the lame-duck Congress, it is still not clear when or whether funding for the federal-state, low-income children’s health plan known as CHIP will be authorized beyond Sept. 30, when it is set to expire…”
  • Reports: Fewer uninsured children in Florida, but challenges ahead for public program, By Daniel Chang, December 4, 2014, Miami Herald: “In Florida, as in the rest of the nation, the number of children without healthcare coverage has declined during the last five years — but the Sunshine State still has one of the country’s highest rates of uninsured children, a challenge that could be met or missed depending on policy decisions on the state and federal levels, according to a brief published this week by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. While the number of uninsured children aged 18 and younger in the state has decreased from about 668,000 in 2008 to 445,000 in 2013, according to the report, Florida has the highest rate in the South and fifth highest in the nation…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Kansas is testing few welfare recipients for drugs, By Brad Cooper, December 1, 2014, Kansas City Star: “Drug-testing welfare applicants often gets the knock that it costs so much and catches so few. In Kansas, drug testing catches so few because it’s testing so few. After its first four months, a new Kansas law for testing welfare applicants for drugs is off to a sluggish start, only testing 20 applicants. Four tested positive. Five others refused the test. The law, passed by the Legislature in 2013, took effect July 1. It was billed as a way of weaning the less affluent off drugs, getting them treatment and job training and helping them out of poverty…”
  • Court rejects Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s drug testing of welfare applicants, By Mary Ellen Klas, December 3, 2014, Miami Herald: “A federal appeals court on Wednesday dealt another blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s crusade to conduct drug tests on welfare applicants when it upheld a lower court ruling that the practice was unconstitutional. The unanimous ruling from a bipartisan panel of judges concluded that the state failed to show any evidence as to why it was necessary to force applicants seeking Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to surrender their constitutional rights as a condition of receiving the aid…”
  • Welfare drug testing pilot program approved by Michigan House, By Jonathan Oosting, December 3, 2014, MLive: “The Michigan House on Wednesday approved a long-discussed pilot program that would mandate suspicion-based drug testing for welfare recipients, who could lose cash benefits for failing more than one test. The two-bill package, approved by the Senate in an earlier form but now awaiting final concurrence, would require the Michigan Department of Human Services to launch a one-year pilot program in at least three counties beginning by October 2015…”

Working Households and Basic Needs – Florida

United Way study finds working families struggling to get by, By Jenny Staletovich, November 11, 2014, Miami Herald: “Almost half the residents of Florida, including much of the state’s glitzy southern half, are barely getting by, living below the federal poverty level or struggling to pay for food, housing, childcare and other basic needs, according to a United Way study released Tuesday. Dubbed the ALICE report, the study looks closely at the working poor — those people squeezed between the nation’s poorest and its middle class, often overlooked and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Statewide, about 2.1 million households fall into the category, the report found. In Miami-Dade County, the rate is even higher: 21 percent of households live below the federal poverty level and an additional 29 percent can’t afford a ‘survival budget…'”

Students and Internet Access

With no Internet at home, Miami-Dade kids crowd libraries for online homework, By Douglas Hanks, October 12, 2014, Miami Herald: “Once again, Christina Morua found herself in the South Dade library longer than she would like on a school night. The 28-year-old single mom sat in the bustling children’s section on a recent Thursday, waiting for her fourth-grader to get on a computer and start some online math homework. ‘We don’t have any Internet at home,’ Morua said as her oldest, 11-year-old Abel, clicked through an assignment on a library laptop while Alina, 9, waited for her turn at a desktop. ‘We just reserved a computer. We have to wait 70 minutes. He got one of the last laptops.’ With more school materials heading online, parents like Morua find they can no longer count on home for homework. That leaves Miami-Dade libraries as a crucial venue for their youngest patrons, but funding challenges, reduced hours on school nights and aging equipment have made it harder to meet the demand…”

Medicaid Expansion for Children – Texas, Florida

Texas and Florida did expand Medicaid — for kids, By Phil Galewitz, September 29, 2014, USA Today: “Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year — for school-age children. Those states were among 21 — including some big Democrat-led states, such as California — that were required to widen Medicaid eligibility for children between the ages of 6 and 18 by 2014. That little-known provision of the health law was one factor helping 1.5 million kids gain coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a survey of a dozen states by Kaiser Health News…”

Child Welfare System – Florida

Florida Senate moves forward with massive rewrite of child welfare laws, By Mary Ellen Klas and Carol Marbin Miller, Miami Herald: “A key Senate committee approved a sweeping overhaul of Florida’s child welfare law Wednesday, the first step toward passage of a series of reforms designed to stanch the deaths of children at the hands of their parents or other caregivers. The proposal, an amendment to SB 1666 approved by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, is the most significant revamp of the state’s child welfare system in at least a decade. It aims to increase the quality and quantity of child protection investigators and strengthen the ability of the state to remove a vulnerable child from an unsafe home after the parents have demonstrated a pattern of neglect or abuse…”

Miami Herald Series on Florida Child Welfare System

Innocents Lost: a Miami Herald I-Team investigation, series homepage, March 2014, Miami Herald: “After Florida cut protections for children from troubled homes, more children died, often in cruel and preventable ways. To understand the magnitude of the problem — and possible solutions — the Herald studied every death over a six-year period involving families with child welfare histories. This series is the result of a year’s worth of reporting by the Herald’s Investigation Team, and multiple lawsuits to obtain state death records…”