State Medicaid Programs

  • Obamacare, Medicaid-expansion recipients in Ohio fear repeal, By Catherine Candisky, Alan Johnson and JoAnne Viviano, January 22, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “Breast-cancer survivor Susan Halpern said she is terrified about losing her health-care coverage if the Trump administration follows through with its promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Bankruptcy could be on the horizon, the Columbus woman said.  ‘I’m trying to figure out a way to survive and keep some kind of health insurance,’ said Halpern, 57, who owns a small social-media business.  Nearly 1 million Ohioans, and 20 million nationwide, are covered under the law’s expansion of Medicaid coverage and creation of an insurance exchange marketplace that offers federal subsidies to help many Americans pay premiums…”
  • Republican states look to customize Medicaid expansion, not eliminate it, By Christine Vestal, January 23, 2017, Stateline: “As candidates two years ago, the Republican governors of Kentucky and Arkansas swore they would do away with ‘Obamacare’ if elected. But a funny thing happened between the campaign trail and the governor’s mansion: Reality set in.  After promising to uproot Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin simply renamed his Democratic predecessor’s health care plan for low-income adults and proposed changes designed to help people find jobs and get off the rolls…”

Unemployment System – Ohio

No fix this year for troubled unemployment system, By Jessie Balmert, December 7, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Ohio lawmakers won’t overhaul the state’s troubled unemployment system – at least not until April, they say.  After days of furious negotiating, lawmakers, business and union leaders came up short of a comprehensive fix that would please both the people who receive unemployment benefits and the employers who pay for them. Instead, lawmakers said Tuesday, they plan to freeze unemployment benefits for 2018 and 2019. Employers currently pay taxes on their employees’ annual wages up to $9,000, and lawmakers plan to increase that to $9,500. The national average is $13,407…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • New Mexico seeks copays from Medicaid patients, By Morgan Lee (AP), October 26, 2016, News Tribune: “New Mexico is pursuing federal authority to charge medical co-payments and some other costs to patients enrolled in Medicaid health care for the poor and disabled, the state Human Services Department secretary told lawmakers on Wednesday.  Secretary Brent Earnest said ‘nominal’ co-payments and other charges would provide a small economic incentive to steer patients away from wasteful expenses, such as the use of emergency room services for routine care…”
  • Medicaid expansion credited for getting record number of kids insurance in Ohio, By Catherine Candisky, October 27, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “More than 95 percent of Ohio children have health coverage as the uninsured rate fell to historic lows in the wake of Obamacare.  A new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families credits Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act for the decline in uninsured children…”
  • In Maryland, diabetics cost Medicaid twice as much, study finds, By Andrea K. McDaniels and Meredith Cohn, October 27, 2016, Baltimore Sun: “People with diabetes cost the state’s Medicaid program twice as much as those without the chronic condition, a study commissioned by the society that represents Maryland’s doctors has found…”

Academic Achievement and Poverty – Ohio

Poverty link remains constant in Ohio students’ poor test scores, By Jim Siegel, Sunday October 9, 2016,  Columbus Dispatch: “Changes to state testing and district report cards gave schools plenty of new data to absorb this summer, but one constant remained. Regardless of which tests students are taking or if more districts are seeing D’s or F’s on their report cards, the results continue to show a strong correlation with poverty levels…”

Low-Income Housing in Ohio

Not enough low-income housing is being built in better neighborhoods, report finds, By Rachel Dissell, August 18, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Not enough is being done to help build low-income housing in neighborhoods with betters schools and safer streets, according to a report commissioned on behalf of state legal aid programs.  The report found that Ohio gives most of its federal tax credits to developers who pitch projects in distressed neighborhoods that are deeply racially segregated and impoverished…”

Minimum Wage – Ohio

Nearly 100,000 Ohioans earning less than state minimum wage, By Randy Tucker, July 25, 2016, Dayton Daily News: “Ohio’s minimum wage is 85 cents higher than the federal baseline for hourly paid workers, but at least 93,000 workers in the state earned wages at or below the federal minimum last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ohio workers were among an estimated 2.6 million nationwide who earned at or below the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That represents 3.3 percent of all hourly paid workers, according to a BLS report…”

Aging Out of Foster Care – Ohio

Kasich signs foster-care extension law, By Rita Price, June 14, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Hundreds of Ohio’s most traumatized and vulnerable teens should soon have the chance to tap into a few more years of support before they have to make it on their own.  Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law Monday that extends foster-care eligibility to age 21, adding Ohio to the growing number of states that have decided teens shouldn’t automatically age out of the system when they turn 18…”

Schools and Child Poverty – Cincinnati, OH

  • ‘This is a crisis’: Suburban poverty growing, school lunch data shows, By Emilie Eaton, May 21, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “In 10 years, Chris Burkhardt has seen a dramatic spike in school lunch program participation. It’s a double-edged sword, he says. On one hand, the program guarantees kids are receiving nutritious meals that help them succeed in the classroom. On the other hand, many students aren’t receiving those same nutritious meals at home. ‘We’re happy folks are utilizing the program, but it’s difficult knowing families can’t provide fruits and vegetables at home,’ said Burkhardt, director of child nutrition at Lakota Local Schools.  In 2015, roughly 3,800 students in Lakota Local Schools received a meal through the school lunch program, a federal program that provides free or discounted lunch to students whose families live in or near poverty…”
  • What is CPS doing to combat poverty?, By Emilie Eaton, May 23, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “The kids steadily trickle into the lunch room here, grabbing a tray before picking out an entree, a vegetable, a fruit and a snack. BBQ beef on a bun? Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Shredded chicken salad? Green beans? Celery? No complaints here. These kids want it all. ‘This is their opportunity to get five fruits and vegetables a day,’ said Principal Belinda Tubbs-Wallace. ‘Some of them don’t get that at home.’  This is Rockdale Academy, where all 402 students receive a free lunch under the school lunch program, a national program that provides a free or discounted lunch to students living below or near the federal poverty level…”

Affordable Child Care

Child care cost, availability big hurdle for area workers, By Emilie Eaton and Fatima Hussein, May 9, 2016, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Half of Bobbie Hedrick’s salary goes towards paying for daycare.  ‘As a single parent, I can attest to how difficult it is to make ends meet with the high costs (of child care),’ she said.The Warsaw, Kentucky resident said she spends roughly $750 a month just to make sure her two kids have quality supervision while she is at work.  The cost and availability of child care doesn’t affect only those with children in daycare. It’s one of two key reasons why all kinds of companies across the Cincinnati region are having a hard time finding the right candidates to fill the area’s 25,000 unfilled jobs…”

Suburban Poverty – Ohio

Suburban poverty on the rise in Columbus, By Catherine Candisky, April 27, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Columbus has had the biggest jump in suburban poverty in the state.  A new report on Ohio’s poor found nearly 12 percent of suburban Columbus residents live in poverty, up from about 7 percent in 2000.  With 144,164 residents with household incomes below the federal poverty rate, or $24,300 a year for a family of four, Columbus has the state’s greatest concentration of suburban poor, according to the annual State of Poverty commissioned by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies…”

Poor Quality Housing and School Readiness

Bad housing—not just due to lead poisoning– tied to lower kindergarten test scores, By Rachel Dissell and Brie Zeltner, April 21, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Cleveland kids who live in– or even near– poor quality housing are more likely to perform worse on kindergarten readiness tests, according to a recent studyby Case Western University’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development. Lead poisoning, as in many other studies, was a major contributor to the poor test performance. About 40 percent of the more than 13,000 Cleveland Metropolitan school district children included in the study had records of a high blood lead level before arriving in kindergarten. But it’s not lead poisoning alone that’s hurting these kids. Children in the study with no record of lead poisoning who lived in or near bad housing scored lower on the kindergarten tests than their peers who lived in better housing…”

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…”

Infant Mortality – Butler County, OH

  • Why black babies die at twice the rate of whites in Butler County, By Wayne Baker, January 22, 2016, Hamilton Journal-News: “Black babies in Butler County are dying before the age of 1 at twice the rate of white babies. It’s a troubling and puzzling statistic that local and state health experts say contributes to Ohio’s high infant mortality rate, which is among the worst 10 percent in the nation. This medical and social issue is being addressed by several health agencies in the area and nationwide, but most of the data compiled so far has left the experts puzzled as to why this is happening…”
  • Ohio Medicaid to help Butler County combat infant mortality, By Wayne Butler, February 11, 2016, Hamilton Journal-News: “Local community and political leaders, along with representatives from the five Medicaid managed care plans, joined Ohio Medicaid Director John McCarthy Thursday afternoon to discuss ways to combat high infant mortality rates in Butler County and across the state. The Journal-News reported in a three-part series last month that black babies in Butler County are dying before the age of 1 at twice the rate of white babies…”

Medicaid Expansion – Indiana, Ohio

  • Hospitals boosted by Medicaid expansion, By Maureen Groppe, February 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “The biggest obstacle a Richmond, Ind., hospital has had in signing up low-income Hoosiers for Indiana’s expanded Medicaid program is convincing them it’s real.  ‘These are people who have never had this type of coverage before,’ said Chris Knight, the chief financial officer and vice president of Reid Health. ‘We have had very touching stories where people just break down and cry when they’re given this coverage.’  As Indiana enters its second year of expanded Medicaid coverage created by the Affordable Care Act, hospitals around the state report it has helped patients gain needed coverage.  But it’s helping hospitals, too.  The amount of unpaid bills Reid Health can’t collect from patients has dropped about 40 percent…”
  • Do Indiana’s poor Medicaid recipients really have skin in the game?, By Maureen Groppe and Shari Rudavsky, February 1, 2016, Indianapolis Star: “When Gov. Mike Pence sought federal permission to run an alternative Medicaid program in Indiana, one aspect was non-negotiable: Participants in the joint federal and state health care program for the poor would have to have ‘skin in the game.’  Even those with no monthly income would have to pay a minimum $1 a month toward their care, if they wanted to stay in the part of the Healthy Indiana Program (HIP 2.0) that offered better benefits and no co-payments…”
  • Medicaid cuts number of uninsured Ohio workers, By Randy Tucker, February 3, 2016, Dayton Daily News: “The number of Ohio workers who were employed but uninsured fell sharply in the first full year of expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to a report released Wednesday by Families USA. On average, the rate of uninsured, mostly low-wage workers, fell by 25 percent in the 26 states that expanded Medicaid in 2014, the non-profit health care advocacy group found. That was about twice the rate of decline in non-expansion states, where the share of uninsured workers was cut by an average of 13 percent, according to the report…”

Medicaid Programs – Ohio, Louisiana

  • Should some Ohio Medicaid recipients have to pay premiums?, By Catherine Candisky, January 18, 2016, Columbus Dispatch: “Tens of thousands of low-income Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage under a state plan to charge premiums and impose penalties on those who miss the payments, advocates for the poor warn…”
  • Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion enrollment could grow to 450,000, By Kevin Litten, January 22, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “The Department of Health and Hospitals is now forecasting that Louisiana’s Medicaid rolls could swell to nearly 450,000 people after initially projecting that as many as 300,000 uninsured could be covered under the federally funded program.  The department had originally based its projections based on U.S. Census data that counted about 306,000 people as uninsured. But there is also a population of about 130,000 people who are part of the Take Charge Plus program who are eligible to receive screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and family planning services for men and women even if they aren’t eligible for Medicaid coverage…”

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…”

TANF Work Requirements – Ohio

Ohio wants easing of federal welfare-to-work rules, By Catherine Candisky, November 2, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “Gov. John Kasich’s administration has asked federal regulators for greater flexibility in work requirements to help prepare welfare recipients for jobs. The Republican governor continues to support mandating work and education for most adults receiving public benefits. But state officials say federal rules are ‘overly prescriptive’ and make it difficult to prepare welfare recipients for jobs…”

Community Health Centers – Ohio

Community health centers growing in central Ohio amid Medicaid expansion, By Ben Sutherly, October 12, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “Last month, Candi Pringle quit her half-pack-a-day habit of 38 years. Since then, Pringle’s blood pressure has dropped, and her back pain has eased. When the urge to smoke surfaces, the 50-year-old Columbus woman said she goes for a walk instead. She credits the positive health strides she has made in part to her local community health center on E. 17th Avenue. Known as St. Stephen’s by many, it’s part of PrimaryOne Health, formerly known as the Columbus Neighborhood Health Center.  Pringle is familiar with the stigma surrounding community health centers such as hers: It’s just for people who are uninsured or on Medicaid…”

State Medicaid Program – Ohio

Medicaid costs nearly $2 billion below estimates in Ohio, By Catherine Candisky, August 12, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “Despite higher than expected enrollment of Ohioans newly eligible for Medicaid, overall costs of the tax-funded health insurance program last year were nearly $2 billion below original estimates. According to a report released today by Gov. John Kasich’s administration, total Medicaid spending was $23.5 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, about 7.6 percent less than projected…”