TANF Applicants – Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania denies 75 percent of welfare applicants, By Kate Giammarise, April 20, 2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The vast majority of applicants for welfare benefits in Pennsylvania are rejected every month, data from the state show, and some blame a 2012 change in state law for sharply increasing the rate at which people are rejected from the program. About 75 percent or more applicants for cash assistance are turned down every month — leaving needy families without aid, advocates say. The change? Beginning in July 2012, state law required applicants to apply to at least three jobs a week — including while their application for assistance is still pending, which can be several weeks. Previously, an applicant would be required to fulfill the program’s work requirement after being approved for assistance, rather than prior to approval…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

In surprising move, Corbett forestalls deep cuts in food stamps, By Alfred Lubrano, March 6, 2014, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In a move that surprised even his most cynical critics, Gov. Corbett on Wednesday night forestalled an estimated $3 billion in cuts to food stamps in the state over the next 10 years. By doing so, Corbett became the first Republican governor in the country to prevent the cuts ordered by Congress, which is looking to slash $8.6 billion over the next decade to the food-stamp program, now called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The governor’s decision will preserve benefits for 400,000 Pennsylvania households slated to lose a monthly average of $60 to $65 each in benefits, amounting to $300 million a year, said Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Welfare…”

Child Welfare and Foster Care

  • Increasingly, youths are entering U.S. alone and undocumented, By Julie Shaw, December 20, 2013, Philadelphia Daily News: “Esteban rode on top of seven cargo trains, narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Mexican gang leader and was robbed on his years-long journey from Honduras to Philadelphia…And like a staggering number of minors under 18, Esteban – not his real name – entered without papers and without a parent or adult guardian. In the last two years, the number of unaccompanied children who have made the dangerous journey alone, and who have ended up in federal custody, has nearly quadrupled…”
  • Private foster care system, intended to save children, endangers some, By Garrett Therolf, December 18, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “They were found barefoot in January, huddled under a blanket against the biting High Desert winter cold, two kids on the run from a former foster mother, who had bound their hands with zip-ties and beat them. Investigators substantiated in October that a Lancaster foster father sexually abused two young sisters in his care. Such cases of abuse are scattered through the files of California’s privatized foster care system — children whipped with belts, burned with a car cigarette lighter and traumatized by beatings and threats. California began a modest experiment 27 years ago, privatizing a portion of foster care in the belief that it would better serve children and be less expensive. Lawmakers decided to enlist local charities to help recruit and supervise foster parents. Today, the state’s private foster family system — the largest in the nation — has become more expensive and more dangerous than the government-run homes it has largely replaced…”
  • Tennessee uses incentives to change a troubled foster care system, By Garrett Therolf, December 18, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “Private foster care agencies in California are paid a set fee for each child — about $1,870 per month to cover the cost of care and administration. The payment system has created an inadvertent incentive for some foster agencies to scrimp on care and lower standards on foster parents so they can take on more children. Over the last two decades, a group of states has begun to take a new approach based on setting big incentives — and big penalties. The basic strategy has been adopted by at least 12 states across the country, including Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Florida and Tennessee…”

State Medicaid Program -Pennsylvania

Corbett will ask U.S. to approve Pa. Medicaid proposal, By Amy Worden, December 6, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The Corbett administration plans to submit a waiver to the federal government sometime after mid-January seeking to use billions of dollars in Medicaid funds to provide health insurance for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians…”

Child Poverty – Philadelphia, PA

  • Report shows child-poverty rate highest in Delaware County, By Alfred Lubrano, November 26, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The number of children living in poverty in Delaware County increased by 30 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a new report. Around 21,000 children 17 and under were living in poverty in the county in 2012, according to the report by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), a youth advocacy and research nonprofit in Philadelphia. That’s a county child-poverty rate of 16.7 percent, PCCY reported…”
  • Childhood poverty up 55 percent in Chester County, By Kendal Gapinski, December 2, 2013, Daily Times: “Childhood poverty in Chester County has dramatically increased from 2008 to 2012, according to a new report released by the Public Citizens for Children and Youth. The report, which was released on Monday, says that child poverty has increased in the county by 55 percent since the start of the recession, the highest in the region. According to PCCY, Bucks County had an 18 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty from 2008 to 2012, while Delaware County saw an increase of 30 percent…”
  • Nearly 3,000 Bucks County kids in ‘deep poverty’, By James McGinnis, December 3, 2013, Bucks County Courier Times: “A ‘slow and uneven’ economic recovery has left nearly 3,000 Bucks County children in ‘deep poverty,’ with parents earning less than $12,000 per year, suggests a new analysis of state and federal records for Philadelphia suburbs. The nonprofit Public Citizens for Children and Youth reports a 43 percent increase in the number of Bucks County children enrolled in supplemental nutritional assistance program (SNAP) food benefits, formerly known as food stamps, and a 45 percent increase in the number of students who are eligible to receive free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches in school…”

NPR Report on Philadelphia Schools

  • Kids pay the price in fight over fixing Philadelphia schools, By Claudio Sanchez, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Sharron Snyder and Othella Stanback, both seniors at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin High, will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. This, their final year, was supposed to be memorable. Instead, these teenagers say they feel cheated. ‘We’re fed up with the budget cuts and everything. Like, this year, my school is like really overcrowded. We don’t even have lockers because it’s, like, too many students,’ Sharron says. Franklin High doubled in size because it absorbed hundreds of kids from two high schools the district could not afford to keep open this fall…”
  • Unrelenting poverty leads to ‘desperation’ in Philly schools, By Eric Westervelt, November 21, 2013, National Public Radio: “Philadelphia’s Center City area sparkles with new restaurants, jobs and money. After declining for half a century, the city’s population grew from 2006 to 2012. But for people living in concentrated poverty in large swaths of North and West Philadelphia, the Great Recession only made life harder. The overall poverty rate in the city dipped slightly in 2012 to 28 percent. But the number of Philadelphians needing food stamps rose last year, and the child poverty rate in the city still hovers near 40 percent. At Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philly, for example, almost every child lives at or below the federal poverty line…”
  • Charter schools in Philadelphia: Educating without a blueprint, By Eric Westervelt, November 22, 2013, National Public Radio: “Shayna Terrell is in a good mood: It’s report card night at the Simon Gratz Mastery Charter high school in North Philadelphia, and parents are showing up in good numbers. Terrell, Mastery’s outreach coordinator, welcomes parents. Her goal on this night is to get 40 percent of Gratz parents to come to the school, meet teachers face to face, and get their child’s report card. It’s part of the effort to make Gratz a positive hub for a community long challenged by high rates of poverty and crime…”

Suburban Poverty – Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh suburbs suffering poverty at high rate, By Mary Niederberger, November 17, 2013, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Poverty is growing at a faster rate in the suburbs than in the cities, and the Pittsburgh area is ahead of the curve — but not in a good way. Nationally, about 55 percent of the population living in poverty is outside of cities, but in Allegheny County, 61 percent of people living in poverty are in the suburbs, and the number rises to 79 percent when the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area is measured. That area includes Allegheny and its six surrounding counties…”

Senior Poverty – Philadelphia

Steep rise seen in deep poverty among elderly, By Alfred Lubrano, October 9, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “If Ivy Maude Jones could still work, life would be easier. Cleaning houses, caring for the sick, toiling in corporate cafeterias – Jones always had money coming in, right up until the North Philadelphia woman retired two years ago at age 74, when her heart and thyroid conspired to end her clock-punching days. But like many American elderly, Jones is now struggling without a paycheck. Her tiny pension and Social Security income can’t save her from a crushing poverty that could soon have her living on the streets…”

TANF Application Process – Pennsylvania

As many as 8 of every 10 welfare applicants in 2013 denied by Pa., By Alfred Lubrano, September 16, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The state of Pennsylvania has denied as many as eight of every 10 applications for cash welfare in 2013, a major increase over previous years, an Inquirer review of Department of Public Welfare figures shows. It’s a pattern being repeated in 17 other states. The increased rate of denials coincides with a change in state law. Before Pennsylvanians apply for welfare, they now must seek at least three jobs and document their efforts…”

States and the Affordable Care Act

  • As healthcare law rolls out, its effects will depend on your state, By Noam N. Levey, September 6, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “Colorado residents shopping for health insurance next year will be able to compare health plans using a star system that ranks insurance companies on quality. In Oregon and Maryland, consumers will save as much as 30% on some plans after state regulators forced insurers to lower 2014 premiums. Californians will get extra help selecting a health plan next year from a small army of community workers paid in part by foundations and the state. As President Obama’s healthcare law rolls out next month, even supporters acknowledge there will be problems. But Americans who live in states backing the Affordable Care Act will receive substantial protections and assistance unavailable to residents in states still fighting the 2010 law…”
  • Law will shift demographics for Medicaid toward healthier group, study finds, By Ankita Rao, September 9, 2013, Washington Post: “The health law is expected to change the face of Medicaid – literally. As part of the federal overhaul, some states have opted to expand in January this state-federal health insurance program for low income people to include Americans who earn as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty line (just under $16,000 for an individual in 2013). As a result, the new enrollees will include more white, male and healthy individuals than those eligible before the Affordable Care Act expansion, according to a study in the Annals of Family Medicine…”
  • Corbett weighing Medicaid expansion if tied to changes, By Don Sapatkin, September 11, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Gov. Corbett is considering an expansion of Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents if he can also win significant changes to the existing part of the entitlement program, which otherwise would continue in its current form. Linking the two issues – a Medicaid expansion envisioned by the Affordable Care Act and money-saving changes in a program that he considers unsustainable – could achieve goals sought by liberals and conservatives. But it will require a delicate balancing act with both parties in Harrisburg as well as the Obama administration…”
  • Lack of Medicaid expansion puts some Floridians in new donut hole, By Marni Jameson, September 13, 2013, Orlando Sentinel: “Nearly 1 million Floridians will fall through a large donut hole next month when the health insurance exchange — a key element in the Affordable Care Act — opens. The unintended coverage gap in the new health-care law will put a large group of uninsured residents right in the middle — not earning enough to qualify for tax credits available through the exchange, but earning too much to qualify for Medicaid…”

Child Welfare Systems – Arizona, Pennsylvania

  • Arizona’s foster-care crisis deepens, By Mary K. Reinhart, August 9, 2013, Arizona Republic: “Arizona is caring for a record number of foster children as child-welfare workers juggle an ever-growing number of abuse and neglect reports, according to a new state report. The biannual report shows that the state’s Child Protective Services now has 14,314 children in foster care, an increase of 40 percent since March 2010, and continues to be buried under an avalanche of reports, most of them alleging that children are being neglected…”
  • Focus on foster care in Pa. yields falling numbers, By Mark Scolforo (AP), August 6, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “A six-year effort by the state court system and child welfare agencies has reduced by a third the number of abused or neglected Pennsylvania children in foster care or similar settings, a process that officials say has improved the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable residents…”

Anti-Poverty Plan – Philadelphia, PA

  • Philly unveils plan to reduce high poverty rate, By Kathy Matheson (AP), July 11, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Officials unveiled a comprehensive plan Thursday to reduce Philadelphia’s extremely high 28 percent poverty rate, which they depicted as a persistent and intergenerational problem with impacts far beyond the neighborhoods where it is most concentrated. The initiative, called Shared Prosperity Philadelphia, sets several goals for the city, such as increasing the number of jobs by 25,000 in the next two years; providing 25 percent more children with pre-literacy skills before kindergarten; and raising the number of residents with bank accounts…”
  • A plan to address city’s ‘staggering’ poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, July 11, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In an unusually frank document, the city has laid out stark statistical descriptions of poverty in Philadelphia, accompanied by a plan to try to deal with the problem. The Shared Prosperity Philadelphia plan, presented Thursday at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia, states that at a ‘staggering 28 percent,’ the poverty rate here is the highest among the nation’s 10 largest cities. More than 430,000 of the city’s 1,547,600 residents live below the federal poverty line, the report points out. The poverty line ranges from $11,490 for a single person to $23,550 for a family of four…”

Jobless Benefits

  • Longer benefits keep people jobless? Maybe not, By Mark Koba, May 15, 2013, CNBC: “Despite arguments to the contrary, giving unemployed Americans extended jobless benefits of up to 99 weeks didn’t prevent them from taking jobs, according a new report. Released last month through the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the study says that the extended benefits given from 2009 to 2012 to the unemployed increased the overall employment rate by only 0.04 percentage points, which the report says is small in comparison to the peak recession unemployment rate of 10 percent…”
  • Pa. lags getting aid to jobless, By Alfred Lubrano, May 13, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Pennsylvania has demonstrated ‘continued failure’ in paying first-time unemployment benefits in a timely fashion, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Further, the commonwealth has been ‘trending downward’ in its efforts to get payments to state residents on time, the department added in a March 29 letter…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

A year later, Pa. food-stamp test called too complex, By Alfred Lubrano, May 3, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “A year ago this week, Pennsylvania tied eligibility for food stamps to the assets people possess. Since then, nearly 4,000 households have lost or were denied benefits because they had too many financial resources, according to the Department of Public Welfare. In that same time, many more people – around 111,000 households – were denied benefits because they failed to provide proper documentation for the asset test…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Tougher standards mean fewer food stamp recipients in Pennsylvania, By Jan Murphy, April 15, 2013, Patriot-News: “Nearly a year ago, Gov. Tom Corbett put in place a policy that his administration said would limit government-provided food stamps to those truly in need. His administration re-introduced an asset test that had been abandoned four years before to help rein in spending at the Department of Public Welfare. The idea behind factoring in all of an applicant’s assets was to ensure that people with a certain amount of cash or other assets, such as second cars of a certain value or boats, tap those dollars first before dipping into the pool of taxpayer-funded food assistance. Previously, the department used income levels to determine eligibility…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Mo. House committee approves GOP-backed Medicaid alternative, By Elizabeth Crisp, April 4, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “A Missouri House committee has approved a Republican alternative to the Medicaid expansion plan outlined in the federal Affordable Care Act, setting up the proposal for a potential debate on the House floor. The decision on whether to expand Missouri’s health care program for the poor has been one of the most debated topics of the session. Democrat-backed expansion efforts have swiftly been killed this session, but the House Government Oversight Committee gave bipartisan support Wednesday evening to a reform-based bill that would expand coverage in Missouri — but not to the level outlined in the federal health care law. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, privately met with House Republicans earlier in the day to try to persuade them to support the larger expansion of Medicaid. He has spent several weeks traveling the state to speak in favor of it, but Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature have so far opposed it…”
  • Corbett considers using Medicaid expansion funds for private insurance, By Amy Worden, April 3, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Gov. Corbett, under pressure to accept a federal expansion of Medicaid, said Wednesday that he is looking at ways to use those same dollars to fund private coverage for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians. Corbett has resisted opting into the Medicaid expansion envisioned under President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, saying he is concerned it would be too costly for the state down the road. He did not commit to changing his mind on Wednesday. After a late Tuesday meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, however, he said he may consider pursuing a private plan similar to what Arkansas, Ohio and a handful of other states are exploring…”
  • Lawmakers get jump on Medicaid expansion debate, By Martha Stoddard, April 4, 2013, Omaha World-Herald: “Nebraska lawmakers are expected to start their debate about expanding the Medicaid program to low-income adults in about two weeks. In anticipation, five state senators joined the leader of the Platte Institute on Wednesday to show their opposition to the idea…”

Deep Poverty in US Cities – Philadelphia, PA

Of big cities, Phila. worst for people in deep poverty, By Alfred Lubrano, March 19, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty – people with incomes below half of the poverty line – of any of the nation’s 10 most populous cities. The annual salary for a single person at half the poverty line is around $5,700; for a family of four, it’s around $11,700. Philadelphia’s deep-poverty rate is 12.9 percent, or around 200,000 people. Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas are the nearest to Philadelphia, with deep-poverty rates of more than 10 percent. The numbers come from an examination of the 2009 through 2011 three-year estimate of the U.S. Census American Community Survey by The Inquirer and Temple University sociologist David Elesh…”

Health Insurance Coverage for the Poor – Pennsylvania

  • Lawyers say thousands wrongly lost Medicaid, By Marc Levy (AP), March 7, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The number of eligible people who were purged from Pennsylvania’s Medicaid rolls amid Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration crackdown aimed at welfare waste is possibly many thousands higher than state officials told lawmakers earlier this week, Philadelphia-based lawyers for the poor told The Associated Press on Thursday…”
  • Pa. court: Reinstate health-care funding for the poor, By Amy Worden, March 7, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “A state judge has ordered the Corbett administration to reinstate funding for programs that provided health insurance to tens of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians. In his ruling Tuesday, Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini found that two statutes that stripped money from the adultBasic and Medicaid programs were unconstitutional because they diverted money from the federal tobacco settlement to finance items other than health care in the general budget…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Corbett facing pressure from GOP on Medicaid, By Amy Worden, February 28, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “The pressure on Gov. Corbett to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls is no longer only geographic; it’s now coming from within his own party. First there was Gov. Christie’s announcement Tuesday that New Jersey would join other Pennsylvania neighbors – New York, Maryland, and Ohio – by opting in on the Medicaid expansion made available to all states under the Affordable Care Act. Now the heat is coming from some of Corbett’s fellow Republicans in the state legislature…”
  • Nebraska lawmakers consider expanding Medicaid, By Alissa Skelton (AP), February 28, 2013, San Francisco Chronicle: “Health care advocates urged Nebraska lawmakers on Thursday to expand Medicaid coverage as part of the federal health care law, while the state’s Medicaid chief says the program is too expensive. Supporters, many of them from the health care industry, testified before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. They argued that expanding Medicaid to an estimated 55,000 newly eligible Nebraskans would allow the federal government to cover long-term health care costs and reduce the financial burden on taxpayers and hospitals…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Ohio to seek expansion of Medicaid, By Lisa Bernard-Kuhn, February 4, 2013, USA Today: “Medicaid coverage will be expanded to nearly 600,000 low-income Ohioans now left out of the program as part of the state’s two-year budget Gov. John R. Kasich proposed Monday. The move positions Ohio among a contingent of Republican-led states including Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota that are leaning toward extending coverage, an option given to states under the federal Affordable Care Act…”
  • Snyder urges Michigan lawmakers to approve Medicaid expansion, By Kathleen Gray and Robin Erb, February 6, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “A day before he delivers his budget message to the state Legislature, Gov. Rick Snyder gave his unconditional support for an expansion of Medicaid to include about 450,000 more uninsured, low-income Michiganders into the program…”
  • Governor takes a pass on expanding Medicaid, By Bill Toland, February 5, 2013, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Pennsylvania is taking a pass on a major expansion to its Medicaid program, at least for now. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, in a letter sent today to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said that ‘The Medicaid program in Pennsylvania is on an unsustainable path. … I firmly believe we can serve more of our citizens in Pennsylvania, but only if we are given the independence and flexibility to do so. At this time, without serious reforms, it would be financially unsustainable for Pennsylvania taxpayers, and I cannot recommend a dramatic Medicaid expansion,’ said the letter, released today as part of the governor’s budget address…”
  • Gov. Jay Nixon’s Medicaid proposal would mean millions for health care industry, By Elizabeth Crisp, February 5, 2013, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Missouri health care providers stand to see a significant boost in payments for treating Medicaid patients under Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to expand the health care program for the poor. The budget proposal Nixon released last week would close a long-standing gap between what Medicaid pays for health care and what providers get on the private market, but it would also add millions to the federal government’s tab for the expansion…”
  • U.S. government would pick up bulk of cost of state Medicaid expansion, By Jason Stein, February 5, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Federal money available under the new health care law would allow Wisconsin to cover up to 175,000 more people through its BadgerCare program for the needy, a study from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates. The state would save $66 million in the first three years, but then pay back those savings and pay up to $67 million more in the subsequent four years. However, those numbers are dwarfed by the federal money available – a projected $4.38 billion, or 66 times the state’s investment – to provide health care through 2020. Gov. Scott Walker gave little sign Tuesday that he would support such an expansion, warning through a spokesman that with all the budget pressures in Washington, the federal money might not materialize – leaving the state on the hook…”