Childhood Hunger – Philadelphia, PA

Childhood hunger in North Philadelphia more than triples, By Alfred Lubrano, September 18, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Stephanie Sakho believes that people who work should have fuller refrigerators than she does. The divorced, certified nursing assistant from Southwest Philadelphia puts in 40 hours a week. But even with her salary and a $300 monthly allotment of food stamps, there isn’t always enough to feed her 10-year-old daughter and year-old son. ‘I think people would be surprised that there are kids in the city not getting enough to eat,’ said Sakho, 28, who makes $13 an hour, near the poverty line for a family of three. ‘I’m working, but people who see me don’t know the refrigerator is empty.’  Sakho’s ‘deeply alarming’ plight is becoming more common, said Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and a professor of health management and policy at School of Public Health at Drexel University…”

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Pa. restores LIHEAP funding and extends availability, By Claudia Vargas, August 30, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services will restore planned cuts to home-heating assistance for the poor this winter, a relief for thousands of people across the state who rely on the service…”

SNAP – California, Pennsylvania

  • As economy improves, fewer Californians use food stamps, By Phillip Reese, August 2, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “For 10 years, the number of California residents on food stamps increased, ultimately doubling to more than 4.4 million by late 2015. That trend has reversed in the last year, thanks largely to an improving economy and low unemployment. About 400,000 fewer Californians take food stamps today than during late 2015, according to the latest state and federal data…”
  • About 30,000 fewer Pa. residents get food stamps after work requirement waiver lifted, By Heather Stauffer, August 1, 2017, LancasterOnline: “A year after federal work requirements went into effect for a small portion of Pennsylvania food stamp recipients, about a quarter of them are no longer covered by the program. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation among able-bodied adults without dependents dropped from 120,783 statewide in March 2016 to 90,661 in March 2017, according to state records…”

State Minimum Wage – Pennsylvania

Pa. minimum wage hike a possibility, By Marc Levy (AP), February 20, 2017, York Dispatch: “Years of pressure by Pennsylvania Democrats could yield a state minimum wage increase this year, although it likely will require substantial concessions in the Republican-controlled Legislature.  Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing hiking the hourly minimum from $7.25 to $12. That would be the nation’s highest…”

Child Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

Report: More Philly children living in poverty, By Martha Woodall, November 1, 2016, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Although Philadelphia largely has rebounded from the Great Recession, the economic status of the city’s youngest residents has not kept pace.  A new report on child wellness by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) released Monday found the number of children living in poverty in the city has grown by 16 percent since 2008…”

Incarceration and Medicaid Coverage – Pennsylvania

Bill aims to make Medicaid enrollment smoother for those leaving jail in Pennsylvania, By Kate Giammarise, July 6, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Medicaid stops at prison and jail walls in Pennsylvania, and getting it started up again can take time.  However, a change in the state’s Human Services code would mean Medicaid is suspended, rather than terminated, for those who are incarcerated. That would allow people who leave prison to be immediately re-enrolled and have health care, rather than having up to 45 days after they leave prison in which they can’t get needed medication…”

Section 8 Housing Vouchers – Pittsburgh, PA

For those with Section 8 vouchers, finding suitable housing difficult, By Kate Giammarise, June 20, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “It can take years to get a Section 8 voucher in Pittsburgh. But it takes just four months to lose it. Pittsburgh’s voucher waiting list has about 5,000 families on it, but once a family gets one, the clock starts ticking. The recipient must find a qualified residence within 120 days and, because of a shortage of units and willing landlords, that’s often very difficult. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly referred to as Section 8, is the largest federal program for assisting low-income people to find affordable housing in the private rental market…”

ACA and Free Health Clinics

While more Americans are insured, free clinics still providing a safety net, By Kate Giammarise, March 28, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid have brought health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans. But it’s still mostly business as usual at the Birmingham Free Clinic on Pittsburgh’s South Side, where about 90 percent of patients lack health insurance. The remaining 10 percent of patients at the clinic, located in a Salvation Army building off Carson Street, tend to bounce off and on Medicaid, clinical director Mary Herbert estimated…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

  • Number of food stamp recipients skyrockets in the region, By Candy Woodall, February 8, 2016, PennLive.com: “The number of food stamp recipients exploded throughout the midstate during the last five years, according to state and federal data. All counties in the region had increases of about 50 percent or more, compared with data from 2005 to 2009. Some local counties reported gains of 80 percent or more, and Cumberland County’s numbers increased 138 percent. There are now 1.8 million Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps, compared to 1.1 million during fiscal year 2006-07, according to the state Department of Human Services…”
  • Pennsylvania nonprofits work to help those facing food stamp restrictions, By Adam Smeltz, February 8, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Western Pennsylvania nonprofits are hustling to blunt a clamp-down this spring on food stamp benefits, promoting volunteer work and other provisions that can keep low-income households eligible for the aid.  More than 9,500 residents of Allegheny County are among some 48,000 Pennsylvanians who could lose the help by June 1, according to state figures and Just Harvest, a South Side anti-hunger organization. Those beneficiaries fall under a renewed three-month limit for many unemployed or underemployed adults ages 18 to 50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children…”

Jobless Benefits – Pennsylvania

Changed rules for jobless pay exclude some workers, By Daniel Moore, February 2, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Amid the sharp downturn in the steel industry and the closure of several power plants in southwestern Pennsylvania, work has been steadily disappearing for Keith Evans. The 53-year-old boilermaker from Brookline is called on intermittently for jobs related to maintenance at industrial facilities.  But the state won’t let him collect unemployment compensation as he scours for jobs. Thousands of seasonal workers were ruled ineligible to receive jobless pay under cost-cutting measures put into effect in January 2013 under former Gov. Tom Corbett.  Although the intention wasn’t to exclude such workers, efforts in Harrisburg to bring some of them back into the fold haven’t worked yet…”

Safety Net Programs – Pennsylvania, Kansas, Missouri

  • Three-month time limit on food stamps to affect many in Allegheny County, By Kate Giammarise, January 4, 2016, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “A three-month time limit on food stamps for unemployed or underemployed adults ages 18 to 50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children will apply to most of Allegheny County and southwestern Pennsylvania in 2016, according to a recent federal decision. The change is due to a requirement in the 1996 welfare overhaul law that hasn’t been in effect for many years because of high unemployment rates during the recession. As unemployment rates continue to fall, some parts of Pennsylvania will be subject to the rule this year, though areas with more persistent high unemployment are exempt…”
  • Gov. Sam Brownback announces mentoring program for welfare recipients, By Bryan Lowry, January 6, 2016, Wichita Eagle: “Gov. Sam Brownback unveiled a mentoring program for welfare recipients Wednesday, a program he hopes will help lift low-income families out of poverty.  The program aims to reduce the amount of time participants rely on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, more commonly known as welfare, by pairing them with community volunteers and helping them pursue education and employment. It is based on a similar program used by the Kansas Department of Corrections to curb recidivism…”
  • Missouri’s social safety net shrinking with new laws, Associated Press, January 1, 2016, Kansas City Star: “Missouri’s social safety net will shrink in January as new laws force an end to welfare payments for some families and reduce how long the unemployed can receive benefits to one of the shortest periods nationally…”

Deep Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

Among the 10 largest cities, Philly has highest deep-poverty rate, By Alfred Lubrano, September 30, 2015, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty among America’s 10 biggest cities, an examination of federal data by The Inquirer shows. The city is already the poorest in that group. Deep poverty is measured as income of 50 percent or less of the poverty rate. A family of four living in deep poverty takes in $12,000 or less annually, half the poverty rate of $24,000 for a family that size…”

Social Services in Schools – Pittsburgh, PA

  • Schools step up social services in hopes of improving education, By Eleanor Chute, September 6, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “When Cornell superintendent Aaron Thomas interviews a potential administrator, he wants to know if the candidate will drive a school van. Administrators, including the superintendent, sometimes need to drive a parent to a teacher conference or a child to a doctor appointment.  At Grandview Upper Elementary School in the Highlands School District, it’s not unusual for principal Heather Hauser to find a bag of groceries on her desk, left anonymously by a staff member. The school started a food pantry after a student one Friday said he didn’t have anything to eat at home…”
  • Educators can spot emotional baggage, By Mary Niederberger, September 7, 2015,  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “When Grace Enick, now 25, was in a Christian elementary school, no one noticed her behavior after she was raped in second grade. ‘All I wanted was for someone to ask me what was wrong,’ she said. No one did.  In recent years, educators have become more aware that some students are carrying emotional baggage that can interfere with their ability to learn…”
  • Parents’ involvement at home key for students, educators, By Clarece Polke, September 8, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “An unlikely catalyst inspired Milton Lopez to go back to school to earn a GED diploma.  Mr. Lopez, now 40, of Coraopolis dropped out of high school in the 11th grade and has worked full time ever since. His young son inspired him to finish his diploma more than a decade after leaving school…”
  • First-generation college students face hurdles, stigmas, By Bill Schackner, September 9, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Teireik Williams wanted to be like other students at Penn State University, but reminders that he was different were everywhere on the flagship public campus where the cost to attend rivaled his family’s total income. It was obvious to the South Oakland resident whenever he saw students driving cars paid for back home or heard them discuss exotic travel. But his sense of isolation wasn’t simply economic — or exclusively because he is an African-American at a largely white university. Since neither of his parents holds a college degree, he differed from peers in another way: He could not count on advice and reassurance from adults back home who already had been through the academic pressures he was facing…”

Medicaid Expansion – Arkansas, Pennsylvania

  • Arkansas governor wants to keep Medicaid expansion, but with changes, By Abby Goodnough, August 19, 2015, New York Times: “Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Wednesday told an advisory group weighing the future of the state’s alternative Medicaid expansion that he favored keeping it — but only if the federal government allowed changes that seemed intended to appeal to conservative legislators who continue to oppose the program. Mr. Hutchinson, a Republican who took office in January, created the advisory group to recommend whether to change or replace the state’s ‘private option’ version of Medicaid expansion. The program’s fate will ultimately be decided by the Republican-controlled legislature, which is likely to meet in a special session this year to vote on it…”
  • Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion simplifies enrollment, By Adam Smeltz, August 20, 2015, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Low-income families who might have waited months for medical assistance last winter are enrolling within weeks under Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion, sailing through simplified applications that help them see doctors faster. ‘People are able to get the care and treatment they need much sooner. Folks are able to get preventive care much sooner,’ said Antoinette Kraus, state director at the nonprofit Pennsylvania Health Access Network, which urged policymakers to broaden traditional Medicaid. Still, critics remain cautious whether the expanded program could overburden the state budget…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Health law brings growth in food stamps in some states, By Carla K. Johnson and David Mercer (AP), April 22, 2015, ABC News: “President Barack Obama’s health care law has had a surprising side effect: In some states, it appears to be enticing more Americans to apply for food stamps, even as the economy improves.  New, streamlined application systems built for the health care overhaul are making it easier for people to enroll in government benefit programs, including insurance coverage and food stamps…”
  • Pa. to eliminate asset test for food stamps, By Alfred Lubrano, April 21, 2015, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania will eliminate the asset test for food stamps as of Monday, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services announced Tuesday evening. The controversial test, initiated by then-Gov. Tom Corbett in 2012, ties federal food-stamp benefits – now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – to people’s bank accounts and car ownership.  Corbett saw the test as a way to cut down on fraud and waste…”

Medicaid Expansion – Pennsylvania

Applying for Pa. Medicaid expansion? Wait in line, By Robert Calandra, January 16, 2015, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Almost seven weeks after the launch of Healthy Pennsylvania, the state’s Medicaid expansion plan, enrollment has been hampered by delays. Only an estimated 55,000 of 163,968 people who applied for the program by Jan. 1 have been enrolled in the Medicaid expansion, said Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services. She acknowledged the delays and said the agency was working to fix them…”

Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

  • Doctors face big cuts in Medicaid pay, By Phil Galewitz, January 4, 2015, USA Today: “Andy Pasternak, a family doctor in Reno, saw more than 100 new Medicaid patients last year after the state expanded the insurance program for the poor under the Affordable Care Act. But he won’t be taking any new ones this year. That’s because the law’s two-year pay raise for primary care doctors like him who see Medicaid patients expired Wednesday, resulting in fee reductions of 43% on average across the country, according to the non-partisan Urban Institute…”
  • As Medicaid rolls swell, fees to doctors return to lower rate, By Laura Olson, December 31, 2014, Allentown Morning Call: “With some 600,000 Pennsylvanians newly eligible for the state’s expanding Medicaid program, the doctors who provide care through that program for low-income residents are getting some bad news: their fees are going down. Those payments were hiked two years ago as part of the federal Affordable Care Act in an effort to encourage more physicians to treat Medicaid patients. The lower Medicaid payments were brought up to match the higher rates for Medicare, with the federal government covering the cost…”
  • No plans for California to make up for expiring ‘Medicaid fee bump’, By Eryn Brown, December 31, 2014, Los Angeles Times: “California officials have no plans to make up for an expiring federal pay incentive designed to entice doctors to treat low-income patients. The end of the subsidy with the start of the new year could result in steep pay cuts for many doctors participating in the Medicaid system for needy Californians. An analysis of the pay cut’s expiration by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., calculated that California doctors’ fees would drop 58.8% when the subsidy disappears…”

Children in Foster Care – Pennsylvania

Children are spending less time in Pa. foster care, By Marcia Moore, November 22, 2014, Morning Call: “A rising number of children under the supervision of Pennsylvania’s child welfare system are remaining with family members and spending less time in foster care. According to data compiled by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, more children are being returned safely to their homes or in the care of relatives, saving taxpayer money and reducing the potential emotional trauma on the child…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Pennsylvania’s expansion of Medicaid to require 723 new workers, By Don Sapatkin, May 12, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania’s ambitious alternative to expanding Medicaid – a private-market initiative that Gov. Corbett says is designed to save money – would require 723 new state workers, about one percent of the current workforce. The projected number of hires, detailed by state officials, is far higher than most states have needed and surprised some public-policy experts. Many states are adding employees to review applications and confirm eligibility, and to implement all the changes required by federal law. Those new hires typically are in the dozens. New Jersey, for example, said the contractor that coordinates its health benefits hired 38 permanent employees and 62 temps…”
  • Surge of newly eligible Medicaid signups has boosted Ohio’s total by nearly 185,000 people, By Robert Higgs, May 12, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Through the first four months of 2014 Ohio already has enrolled more than half the number of people in the state’s expanded Medicaid program that it expected would sign up by June 2015. The state’s actuaries have estimated that about 366,000 people who are newly eligible will actually sign up for the health care coverage by the end of June 2015 and the state’s current budget cycle…”

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…”