Foster Care System – Idaho

‘Every phone call is a trauma.’ Idaho’s foster care system to see a boost in support, By Bill Dentzer, March 10, 2017, Idaho Statesman: “Idaho’s child welfare system, the subject of a legislative performance review released in February, is getting some of the additional resources that state evaluators said were needed to address staff burnout, underserved foster families and other issues.  Safety of children is not an issue and the system is not in crisis, evaluators and foster care workers are quick to note. Caseloads are in fact lower now than they were in 2007, the last time the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluation took a look.  But caseload is different from workload…”

Child Welfare System – Idaho

Study: Idaho’s child welfare system overwhelmed, overworked, By Associated Press and Samantha Wright, February 8, 2017, Boise State Public Radio: “State auditors say Idaho’s child welfare system is overwhelmed, with too few foster parents, too heavy caseloads for social workers and not enough infrastructure to hold it all together.  The study from the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations found that the number of foster parents has decreased by 8 percent since 2014, while social workers are dealing with 28 to 38 percent more cases than they can reasonably handle…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Idaho

Dentists push for higher pay from Idaho Medicaid, By Audrey Dutton, February 17, 2016, Idaho Statesman: “Jack Klure has been working as a dentist for 40 years, half of those in the Boise area. He sees 30 to 40 paying customers a week who have private health insurance or pay cash. But he and other Idaho dentists say they have given up on seeing Medicaid patients — a group that includes many Idaho children — because the government health insurance doesn’t pay enough, so they are pushing for higher reimbursement rates.  The state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate to dentists is slightly below the national average. As a percentage of the dentists’ full-price fee, reimbursements have decreased about 25 percent over the past 10 years, according to the American Dental Association…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Some Iowans will face premiums for Medicaid expansion, By Catherine Lucey, February 1, 2015, Des Moines Register: “As Iowa’s modified Medicaid expansion hits the one-year anniversary mark, some enrollees will be asked to pay small monthly premiums because they have not yet completed a required physical exam and health questionnaire. For Gov. Terry Branstad, setting these health requirements was a key provision for expanding Medicaid in Iowa using funding from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. The state received federal approval to make modifications to the traditional Medicaid terms, including setting health requirements and charging contributions…”
  • US’s 1st program using federal funds to buy private insurance for poor survives in Arkansas, By Andrew DeMillo (AP), February 5, 2015, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “Arkansas’ first-in-the-nation program using federal funds to buy private health insurance for the poor will survive another year after the Legislature reauthorized the program Thursday, despite an influx of new Republican lawmakers elected on a vow to kill the hybrid Medicaid expansion. The Arkansas House voted 82-16 to reauthorize funding through June 2016 for the ‘private option’ plan, which was crafted two years ago as an alternative to expanding Medicaid under the federal health law. Arkansas was the first state to win federal approval for such an approach, touted as a compromise for Republican-leaning states…”
  • Medicaid could dump 500,000 Ohioans in 6 months, By Catherine Candisky, February 6, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “The state will send out letters to 107,000 Medicaid recipients today telling them that their health-care benefits will be terminated on Feb. 28 for failure to verify their income. ‘They should consider this as a final notice,’ said Sam Rossi, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Medicaid. ‘There is personal responsibility. You need to report income for a program like Medicaid.’ An additional 140,000 recipients will receive termination notices next week, with 100,000 scheduled for March. The Ohio Job and Family Services Association and advocates for the poor have urged state officials to delay terminating benefits because fewer than half of those sent renewal notifications in December have responded, and many never received them…”
  • Few lawmakers supported Haslam’s Insure Tennessee, By Dave Boucher, February 4, 2015, The Tennessean: “In 21 months, Gov. Bill Haslam and his administration spent countless hours crafting a health care plan they thought could thread the political needle: satisfy Democrats in Washington, D.C., Republicans in Tennessee and help the working poor. It took considerably less time for the plan to unravel in the General Assembly. After a little more than two days, a few state Senators officially killed Haslam’s plan to provide 280,000 low-income Tennesseans with federally funded health care…”
  • Governor’s panel again urges Medicaid expansion in Idaho, By Bill Dentzer, February 6, 2015, Idaho Statesman: “Members of the governor-appointed group that developed options for expanding Medicaid to cover Idaho’s poorest adults told lawmakers Thursday that opposition to the expansion has blocked money that taxpayers are due under federal health care reform. The panel’s alternative funding plan provides greater accountability, saves money and gives the state more control over how funds are spent, they said. The federal government already has approved similar alternative plans in other states where Medicaid expansion has been politically or ideologically unpopular…”

ACA and Medicaid Enrollment

  • Medicaid gets Affordable Care Act bump in Pennsylvania, By Bill Toland, April 21, 2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Pennsylvania’s Medicaid enrollment is up by more than 18,000 people since the Oct. 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act’s online health plan marketplaces. The state’s enrollment bump in the program for low-income families and individuals is small, though it coincides with larger jumps being experienced in other Republican-led states. Supporters of the ACA are crediting the 2010 federal health care overhaul with encouraging more uninsured to examine their health coverage options. Subsequently they discover that they were already eligible for state-funded insurance programs…”
  • Idaho Medicaid enrollment surges, By Audrey Dutton, April 22, 2014, Idaho Statesman: “The number of people on Medicaid in Idaho rose almost 6 percent since the launch of Idaho’s health-insurance exchange last fall even though Idaho is one of the states that has not expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. The increase is sharper than usual. That’s partly because more people discovered they qualified for Medicaid during the process of shopping for health insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to be insured…”

States and Extended Jobless Benefits

  • Growing economy weakens federal jobless benefits for Idaho, other states, By Jessie L. Bonner (AP), April 9, 2012, Idaho Statesman: “The state Department of Labor says long-term unemployment benefits in Idaho will be gone after Dec. 31, though some people will be cut off sooner depending on when they started receiving the federal assistance. Regular benefits last up to 26 weeks and are paid by the state, but two long-term programs that are funded by the U.S. government are triggered on and off by Idaho’s jobless numbers. Labor spokesman Bob Fick says the first program, known as emergency unemployment compensation, will shrink from 53 weeks of benefits to 13 weeks. The second program, known as extended benefits, currently pays up to 20 weeks but will be completely eliminated..”
  • Unemployment down, triggers benefit cuts, By Christopher Quinn, April 9, 2012, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia’s dropping unemployment rate has triggered a cut in federal unemployment benefits. About 15,000 people will lose a final 20 weeks of extended unemployment benefits April 21. Those losing their unemployment insurance payments this month have been without jobs the longest. They are drawing checks from the last of six layers of state unemployment and federal extensions that can stretch to nearly two years…”
  • Nearly 8,000 Wisconsinites to lose extended jobless benefits, By John Schmid, April 5, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin will discontinue long-term unemployment insurance benefits to 7,761 state residents Saturday because the state’s unemployment rate has dropped below a threshold that automatically phases out a federal program that pays for the benefits. At issue are an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits that augment other existing tiers of federally funded unemployment insurance…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Food stamp program under fire, By Pamela M. Prah, March 23, 2012, Stateline.org: “The odds of winning one of Michigan’s high-stakes lottery games are 1 in 10,000, but the probability of two people hitting million-dollar jackpots and still be collecting food stamps has to be even more remote. That is exactly what happened in Michigan, stoking a nationwide debate over whether the program is becoming an out-of-control entitlement. A lottery winner ‘can certainly afford his own food, and should not be able to get more money from hard-working taxpayers after his big pay out,’ says Michigan state Representative Dave Agema, who has introduced proposals aimed at ensuring lottery winners aren’t on the public dole. ‘Michigan’s taxpayers have an absolute right to know when their tax dollars are going to millionaires,’ he said. While these kinds of cases are seen as rare, the $75 billion spent last year on food stamps across the country is coming under more scrutiny, as Congress struggles to pare down the federal debt. With a record 45 million Americans relying on food stamps, states and Congress are taking a closer look at who should get help paying for groceries…”
  • Idaho bill would stagger food stamps, By Holly Beech, March 29, 2012, Idaho Press-Tribune: “Grocers are asking Health and Welfare to distribute food stamps – or SNAP benefits – over a number of days rather than just the first of the month. But for the second year in a row, a bill that would answer that request probably won’t make it to the governor’s desk.  It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars more to stagger issuance, said Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston. Lodge is holding the bill in committee after it glided through the House Friday, sponsored by Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa…”
  • State panel to review EBT cards, with eye toward proper usage, By Conor Berry, March 28, 2012, MassLive.com: “The panel created to examine potential misuse and abuse of electronic benefit transfer cards – better known as EBT cards and formerly known as Food Stamps – is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in Boston. The session is the final meeting before the EBT Commission releases an April 1 report with recommendations on how to improve local enforcement of the federal program, which in Massachusetts is administered by the state Department of Transitional Assistance. The program, which is aimed at helping low-income households pay for food, is known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The federal Food Stamp program officially changed its name to SNAP in October 2008…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Food stamps surge in West, By Jim Carlton, March 16, 2011, Wall Street Journal: “Before the recession hit, Idaho, Nevada and Utah had some of the lowest rates of food stamp use in the nation. It was a boom time in a region that has always prided itself on self-reliance and a disdain for government handouts. But since the recession began, these three states have the fastest growth rates in the nation of participation in the federal program, recently released figures show. Utah saw a nearly 34% jump in food-stamp participation in December from the same month a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nevada had the second fastest growth rate at 25%, followed by Idaho at 24%. For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, those three states plus Wyoming ranked among the top 10 in food-stamp growth, with Idaho leading with a 42% jump from 2009, according to USDA figures…”

Supple­mental Nutrition Assistance Program Enrollment

Food stamp rolls reach historic levels, By Pamela M. Prah, February 7, 2011, Stateline.org: “Dorene is a certified teacher in Idaho, but the only job she can find is as a teaching assistant, which pays under $11 an hour. That is considerably less than the $45,000 that the average teacher in Idaho earns annually. She asked that her full name not be used because her family doesn’t know she has been getting food stamp benefits for her two young children and herself for a year. ‘We live paycheck to paycheck,’ she says, even with child support. ‘I never thought I’d be in this situation.’ Nationwide, one in seven Americans currently receives help from the government to put food on the table. All but 14 states saw double-digit spikes in the number of people getting food stamps over the one-year period that ended in November 2010. But Idaho had the largest one-year increase in the country: 28 percent, according to the latest government figures…”

Food Stamp Enrollment – Idaho

When it isn’t enough: Idaho leads national increase in food stamp use, By Amy Huddleston, Twin Falls Times-News: “Kelly Malmstrom lost her job as a large-animal veterinarian after suffering a badly broken arm in 2006. Over the last four years she’s undergone more than four surgeries while watching her once-comfortable life spiral into poverty. Emily Flores is a single mother of four children all under the age of 6. She makes $7.50 an hour at her full-time housekeeping job. Dawn Rollins has been sober 14 months after struggling with methamphetamine addiction for 22 years. She said she’s been looking for work everywhere. The faces and stories are different, but the need is the same. Today one in eight Idahoans receives federal assistance to fill the basic need of keeping food on the table. They are next-door neighbors, co-workers, parents gathering their children from day care. And they need help, now more than ever. From March 2009 to March 2010, Idahoans’ participation in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – commonly called the food stamp program – increased by 42.5 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service statistics. That’s more than double the nationwide increase of 21.1 percent during the same span…”

Food Stamps at Farmer’s Markets

  • Legislation would allow food stamps to be used at farmer’s markets, By Stephen Rickerl, April 26, 2010, The Southern: “Proposed legislation seeks to make locally grown fresh produce and meats available to food stamp recipients. House Bill 4756 introduced by state Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, would create the Farmer’s Market Technology Improvement Act, which would create a fund to assist vendors at USDA approved farmer’s markets in purchasing equipment needed to process Electronic Debit Transfers. The equipment is necessary to process electronic debits because recipients receive their food assistance in the form of a LINK card, which is used to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to increase access to fresh foods by SNAP recipients…”
  • Farmers markets run by city of Chicago will start accepting food stamp cards, By Monica Eng, April 19, 2010, Chicago Tribune: “If you want to buy a meal of doughnuts, chips and soda with food stamp benefits, you’ll have no problem in Chicago. But if you want to use them for fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market, it’s been impossible. That’s about to change. In a pilot program announced Monday by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, five city-run farmers markets – Lincoln Square, South Shore Bank, Daley Plaza, Division Street and Beverly – will accept LINK cards, Illinois’ debit cards for food stamp purchases…”
  • Farmers market to take food stamps, By Anna Webb, April 19, 2010, Idaho Statesman: “A certain cliche hounds farmers markets: that they serve an affluent clientele willing to pay high prices for arugula and artisanal cheeses. But last year, growers at one Capital City booth – Global Gardens, a community garden project run by the Idaho Office for Refugees – started quietly undermining that idea by accepting food stamps at their produce booth. The idea caught on, and this year most produce booths at the market will be food stamp accessible, said Katie Painter, refugee agriculture coordinator with the agency. Though the market opens Saturday, the EBT, or ‘electronic benefits transfer’ machines, will be up and running June 5, just as harvest season is picking up. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare staff has actively recruited Idaho farmers markets to accept food stamps. Seven markets across Idaho have tentatively signed on, said Health and Welfare spokeswoman Emily Simnitt. A record number of Idahoans are using food stamps – 180,000 in the most recent count, an increase of 106 percent in the last two years…”

State Budget Cuts and Medicaid – Idaho, California

  • Medicaid cuts call health care for vulnerable Idahoans into question, By Colleen LaMay, March 3, 2010, Idaho Statesman: “No matter where you cut Medicaid, you are bound to slice into care that matters a great deal to some of the 213,000 people who rely on it for their health care. The Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Thursday will consider how to make up a $29 million shortfall in state funding for Medicaid for this year, as well as how and where to curb Medicaid to meet JFAC’s budget goals for 2011. Medicaid started its fiscal year in July with a budget of about $1.5 billion in federal and state funding. That dropped to $1.4 billion as the economic news became more grim…”
  • Idaho lawmakers approve budget cuts for Medicaid, By Brian Murphy, March 4, 2010, Idaho Statesman: “Idaho legislative budget writers approved a Medicaid budget Thursday morning that forces the Department of Health and Welfare to finding savings of more than $47 million in the program and gives Gov. Butch Otter the authority to modify state statutes to keep the program in check. The entire Medicaid budget is $1.55 billion dollars, with $298 million coming from the General Fund. More than $1.5 billion of the budget comes from the federal government. Lawmakers expect $25 million to come from the Hospital Assessment Act, a bill that has yet to be introduced this session. Hospitals will pay the state in order to continue to keep its federal match. That still leaves more than $22 million in savings for the department to find…”
  • State can’t cut Medi-Cal payments to hospitals, By Bob Egelko, March 4, 2010, San Francisco Chronicle: “A federal appeals court barred California on Wednesday from lowering Medi-Cal payments to doctors and hospitals by 5 percent and from cutting in-home care workers’ wages by nearly 20 percent, saying the state’s budget crisis doesn’t justify violating federal laws that protect the poor and disabled.In four rulings, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected attempts by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to reduce the state’s deficit by paying less to the health professionals who treat 6.6 million low-income Californians, and to hundreds of thousands of workers who care for some of the neediest…”

Food Stamp Program Enrollment – California, Idaho

  • 1,500 families may lose food stamp benefits, By James Rufus Koren, January 23, 2010, Contra Costa Times: “Nearly 1,500 San Bernardino County families could lose some or all of their food stamp benefits if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest budget recommendation goes through. Troublingly, some groups say, families who stand to lose state-funded food stamps might not know they have those benefits until they’re gone. ‘The constituency who receives this are unaware of it in a way that would allow them to mobilize to fight it,’ said Matthew Sharp, who works with the nonprofit group California Food Policy Advocates. ‘The benefits are invisible to the client.’ In a Jan. 8 budget presentation, Schwarzenegger recommended eliminating the California Food Assistance Program, which provides food stamp benefits to legal U.S. residents who have not lived in the U.S. long enough to receive traditional federally funded food stamps. While the California Food Aid Program and the federal food stamps program – also called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – are separate, Californians essentially apply for both programs when they apply for food stamps…”
  • More Idahoans on food stamps than ever, By Brian Murphy, January 26, 2010, Idaho Statesman: “A record number of Idahoans are receiving food stamps, a sign that the state’s economy still struggles. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is processing 9,000 new food stamp applications each month, said Tom Shanahan, a department spokesman. More than 176,600 people are enrolled in the program – more than double the 2007 level. ‘We’re setting records every month,’ Shanahan said. ‘Food stamps are a good indicator of the number of people living near poverty. We’re seeing the effects of layoffs and high unemployment.’ Idahoans typically are reluctant to accept government aid, and the state has a relatively low rate of eligible people applying for aid. Around 60 percent of eligible people actually apply for aid, Shanahan said. A department official testified to lawmakers last week that 33 percent of people applying for help in the last two years had never applied before…”

Enrollment in Assistance Programs – Idaho

Economy causes record demand for Idaho public aid, By Todd Dvorak (AP), January 19, 2010, Idaho Statesman: “High unemployment caused by the recession has created unprecedented need statewide for food stamp aid and other public assistance programs, the chief of Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare said Tuesday. At the same time, Health and Welfare Director Richard Armstrong said the threat of another midyear budget cut may force the agency to lay off workers and shutter some of its offices across the state – as worker caseloads continue to swell. The agency is processing more than 9,000 new food stamp applications each month, a record level and a 55 percent increase from 2007. More than 179,6000 people or families are enrolled in the program, up 106 percent from more than 87,000 in 2007. Demand for Medicaid programs is up 13 percent from three years ago and child support cases are up 9 percent, according to agency figures…”