Medicaid Coverage

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • In many states, a long-awaited raise for low-paid workers, By Tim Henderson, July 14, 2017, Stateline: “In 44 states, jobs paying roughly $30,000 were among those that got the largest salary bumps since 2010 — evidence that the steady but modest economic growth of the past half-decade may be reaching people at the bottom of the income ladder…”
  • St. Louis businesses pressured to keep $10 minimum wage, By Jim Salter (AP), July 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The $10 per hour minimum wage law in St. Louis will be short-lived, but an effort launching Friday will encourage and pressure businesses to honor the higher wage even if state law doesn’t require it…”

State Medicaid Programs

States move to tighten Medicaid enrollment, even without a new health law, By Charles Ornstein, July 6, 2017, National Public Radio: “No corner of the health care system would be harder hit than Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, if Republican leaders in Congress round up the votes to repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act. GOP lawmakers have proposed winding down the Medicaid expansion that added 17 million people in 31 states and the District of Columbia under the ACA, and also eventually capping the program’s spending per capita…”

Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is straining the nation’s foster-care systems, By Perry Stein and Lindsey Bever, July 1, 2017, Washington Post: “Deb McLaughlin’s 3-year-old grandson climbed all over her, pleading to play trucks, restless as always. Her 1-year-old foster daughter, who had just woken from a midday nap, sat in her lap, wearing a frilly dress and an irresistible smile. At least McLaughlin doesn’t have to worry about the daily shots of methadone anymore, at least these babies no longer scream and shake for the opioids to which they were born addicted. This isn’t what McLaughlin envisioned for her empty nest years in rural Maine, trading camping and four-wheeling trips for social-worker check-ins, meetings with behavioral therapists and supervised visits with the drug-addicted biological parents who had to give up these children. McLaughlin’s daughter, who once dreamed of being a lawyer, is one of the millions of Americans addicted to opioids and one of thousands of parents whom state governments have deemed unfit to care for their own children…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • From birth to death, Medicaid affects the lives of millions, By Alison Kodjak, June 27, 2017, National Public Radio: “Medicaid is the government health care program for the poor.  That’s the shorthand explanation. But Medicaid is so much more than that — which is why it has become the focal point of the battle in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. President Barack Obama expanded Medicaid under his signature health care law to cover 11 million more people, bringing the total number of people covered up to 69 million…”
  • For people who depend on Medicaid, proposed federal caps in health care plans instill fear, By Guy Boulton, June 24, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Aaron Christensen was born with a condition so rare that fewer than 100 people have been diagnosed and reported with it worldwide. The boy, now 6, has Nicolaides-Baraitser syndrome, which is characterized by intellectual disability, distinctive facial and other physical features, and often seizures. When he was born, ‘everything kind of changed,’ said his mother, Sara Christensen. ‘We still don’t know what the future looks like.’ Aaron could depend on Medicaid to pay for all or most of his health care his entire life, through a special program. And that’s why they’re extremely anxious about congressional Republicans’ plans to cap what the federal government spends on Medicaid in future years…”
  • The who, what and how much of Mississippi Medicaid, By Sarah Fowler, June 28, 2017, Clarion-Ledger: “Each morning, Samantha Manning rushes to get her family ready for the day. Her eldest, 13-year-old Kennedy, is involved in a number of sports. Combine that with twin 8-year-old boys, and each day is different. Kennedy is a type 1 diabetic and goes to a small school that doesn’t have a nurse on staff. Because of the teen’s diabetes, the school’s policy demands one parent is present at all of her games…”
  • Veterans helped by Obamacare worry about Republican repeal efforts, By Stephanie O’Neill, June 28, 2017, National Public Radio: “Air Force veteran Billy Ramos, from Simi Valley, Calif., is 53 and gets health insurance for himself and for his family from Medicaid — the government insurance program for lower-income people. He says he counts on the coverage, especially because of his physically demanding work as a self-employed contractor in the heating and air conditioning business…”

State and Local Minimum Wages

  • The minimum wage is going up in D.C., two states. How California’s compares, By Nick Perez, June 28, 2017, Sacramento Bee: “On July 1, the minimum wage will increase in Oregon, Maryland and Washington, D.C. – but California will still have fourth-highest minimum wage in the country. The District of Columbia pays minimum wage workers the most – $12.50 per hour, as of July 1, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nineteen states increased their minimum wages at the beginning of 2017…”
  • A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 26, 2017, Washington Post: “When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect. The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found…”

Medicaid Cuts and State Programs

  • Republicans’ proposed Medicaid cuts would hit rural patients hard, By Bram Sable-Smith, June 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “For the hundreds of rural U.S. hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington, D.C., this summer could make survival a lot tougher. Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing. These hospitals serve a largely older, poorer and sicker population than most hospitals, making them particularly vulnerable to changes made to Medicaid funding…”
  • G.O.P. health plan is really a rollback of Medicaid, By Margot Sanger-Katz, June 20, 2017, New York Times: “Tucked inside the Republican bill to replace Obamacare is a plan to impose a radical diet on a 52-year-old program that insures nearly one in five Americans. The bill, of course, would modify changes to the health system brought by the Affordable Care Act. But it would also permanently restructure Medicaid, which covers tens of millions of poor or disabled Americans, including millions who are living in nursing homes with conditions like Alzheimer’s or the aftereffects of a stroke…”
  • Republicans’ Medicaid rollback collides with opioid epidemic, By Ricardo Alonzo-Zaldivar (AP), June 20, 2017, ABC News: “The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama’s health care law is colliding with America’s opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties…”
  • How states like Kansas punish the poor for being both too poor and not poor enough, By Max Ehrenfreund, June 19, 2017, Washington Post: “Obamacare was designed to make it easier for poor Americans to buy insurance. In many states, though, the law has left a hole where less needy households can receive benefits, while millions of Americans living in poverty cannot. They are, in effect, too poor to get help…”
  • In expanding Medicaid, Utah wants to make some enrollees work and cap their lifetime coverage, By Alex Stuckey, June 20, 2017, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah health officials are proposing lifetime limits and work requirements for childless adults who would gain coverage under a Medicaid expansion plan, hoping the changes will help persuade the federal government to approve it…”
  • With Medicaid under the gun, new study highlights program’s successes in Cheshire County, By Ethan DeWitt, June 23, 2017, Keene Sentinel: “Amid fierce national clashes over the future of health care, and a new Republican bill unveiled Thursday, one federal program has proven a particular emotional flash point: Medicaid. Efforts to pare back the program, which provides coverage to low-income adults and children, have drawn alarm from Democrats and some Republican senators representing rural states…”

2017 Kids Count Data Book

  • Kentucky children make ‘undeniable’ health care gains, but advocates fear setback, By Deborah Yetter, June 13, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “As a young mom, Savannah Wallace of Louisville knows the value of health care coverage for her baby boy. ‘It’s peace of mind,’ she said, holding 4-month-old William on her lap during a recent visit to the Family Health Center Iroquois clinic for a checkup. ‘You don’t have to worry where the money’s going to come from. He gets the health care he needs…'”
  • Tennessee moves to 35th for kids’ health and happiness, By Jason Gonzales, June 12, 2017, The Tennessean: “Tennessee’s push to increase the number of students who attend college has helped increase the state’s standing on a national report that looks at the well-being of children…”
  • 2017 Kids Count report on Nevada is a mixed bag, By Amber Corbin, June 13, 2017, Las Vegas Sun: “The economic conditions of Nevada households with children continue to improve following the Great Recession, but the overall well-being of kids still lags far below the national average, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Southwestern states rank among lowest in child well-being, By Susan Montoya Bryan (AP), June 13, 2017, US News: “Three Southwestern states are ranked near the bottom when it comes to child well-being, with New Mexico the lowest among its neighbors. The annual Kids Count report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks New Mexico 49th, ahead of only Mississippi. Louisiana, Nevada and Arizona fill in the rest of the five lowest rankings…”
  • Florida child poverty rate doesn’t budge, By Liz Freeman, June 13, 2017, Naples Daily News: “Florida children are not escaping poverty or making significant strides in school, two findings for why the state ranks 40th in overall child well-being for the second year in a row, according to a national report…”
  • D.C. has one of the highest rates of children with health insurance, report says, By Michael Alison Chandler, June 13, 2017, Washington Post: “The District has one of the highest rates of health-insured children, with 98 percent covered, according to the latest Kids Count annual survey released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Georgia children’s health factors improving but among U.S.’ lowest, By Ariel Hart, June 14, 2017, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Georgia’s children rank among the nation’s least healthy, according to an annual report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In only seven other states does a greater portion of the children lack health insurance. In only five other states are more babies born underweight. Georgia also ranked worse than the national average in several other categories related to children’s health and well-being, including deaths of minors…”
  • Report puts NC in the bottom half of the U.S. for child well-being, By Beth Walton, June 13, 2017, Asheville Citizen-Times: “A national group put North Carolina in the bottom half of U.S. states for child well-being, something local advocates say needs to change. The annual Kids Count Data book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Florida, like Trump, considered saving money by cutting food stamps, By Katishi Maake, June 6, 2017, Charlotte Observer: “It’s not just President Donald Trump trying to cut back on food stamps. Months before Trump submitted a federal budget that would ax $193 billion from the benefits program, Florida lawmakers earlier this year tried – and failed – to cut money from the state’s share of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, pushing legislation that would have cut off all but the neediest families…”
  • ‘I’ve got to make $15 stretch’: Food stamp cuts hit Alabama’s Black Belt hard, By Connor Sheets, June 10, 2017, AL.com: “Ricky Minor receives $16 worth of food stamps every month. The 54-year-old, who lives in Aliceville, a small Pickens County town in Alabama’s impoverished Black Belt region, is certified as 100 percent disabled, unable to work because he has lung cancer. ‘If you buy the chicken and the bread with the $16, you don’t have enough to get the grease to cook it,’ he said Thursday…”
  • Food stamps still heavily used in Minnesota, raising worry over Trump’s proposed cuts to program, By Maya Rao, June 15, 2017, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Demand for food stamps in Minnesota rose dramatically in the past decade, and remains high even as the economy improved in recent years. That has anti-hunger advocates in the state preparing to fight cuts in federal food assistance proposed by the Trump administration…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • Charity care dips at Wisconsin hospitals, with more people insured; trend could end with Obamacare repeal, By David Wahlberg, June 11, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Hospitals in Madison and throughout Wisconsin have provided less charity care in recent years as more people have gained insurance through the Affordable Care Act, with some hospitals directing the savings to disease prevention. That could change if Congress overturns the law, known as Obamacare, and increases the ranks of the uninsured. And if Medicare payment cuts that helped pay for the law’s expanded coverage also remain, hospitals could end up shifting more costs to people with private insurance, officials say…”
  • What the Obamacare overhaul could mean for Texas’ terrible maternal mortality rate, By Katie Leslie, June 12, 2017, Dallas Morning News: “Texas officials were already investigating why an alarming number of Lone Star women are dying from pregnancy-related complications when a study last year ranked the state’s maternal mortality rate as the nation’s worst. That’s why many doctors and health care advocates are watching Republican-led negotiations in Washington over replacing the Affordable Care Act, with some worried about what the changes could mean for Texas’ maternal health crisis…”
  • Nevada may become first state to offer Medicaid to all, regardless of income, By Alison Kodjak, June 13, 2017, National Public Radio: “Nevadans will find out this week whether their state will become the first in the country to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the government health care program for the poor and disabled…”
  • In Texas, people with erratic incomes risk being cut off from Medicaid, By Shefali Luthra, June 14, 2017, Iowa Public Radio: “Worries about whether her children can still get the health care they need are never far from Dawn Poole’s mind. It’s a constant, underlying concern. Much of her anxiety is a direct result of living in Texas. To qualify for Medicaid in the state, most children must come from families with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2017, that’s $33,948 for a family of four. Texas also has one of the country’s strictest Medicaid verification systems: It runs regular checks on family finances after children are enrolled to make sure they continue to qualify…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin submits request to drug test Medicaid applicants, By Scott Bauer (AP), June 7, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Wisconsin submitted a federal request Wednesday to become the first state in the country to drug test applicants for Medicaid health benefits. Republican Gov. Scott Walker expects President Donald Trump’s administration to approve the waiver, which would also impose new requirements on able-bodied, childless adults receiving Medicaid in the state. The request comes as Walker, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, prepares for a likely re-election bid…”

Medicaid Enrollment in Rural Areas

  • Trump’s base in rural America could be disproportionately hurt by Medicaid cuts, By Jose A. DelReal, June 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion disproportionately benefited rural Americans over their urban counterparts, according to a new report, and President Trump’s proposed cuts to the program could negatively affect millions of them who have come to rely on it for coverage…”
  • GOP Medicaid cuts hit rural U.S. hardest, report finds, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Rural America carried President Donald Trump to his election win in November. Trump Country it might be, but rural areas and small towns also make up Medicaid Country, those parts of the United States where low-income children and families are most dependent on the federal-state health insurance program, according to a report released Wednesday…”

State TANF Programs

States with more black people have less generous welfare benefits, study says, By Tracy Jan, June 6, 2017, Washington Post: “How much cash welfare assistance families in poverty receive largely depends on where they live, with welfare eroding in every state except Oregon during the past 20 years, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. The study, released Tuesday, unveils wide racial and geographic disparities in how states distribute cash welfare, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)…”

Age of Criminal Responsibility in States

How ‘Raise the Age’ laws might reduce recidivism, By Teresa Wiltz, May 31, 2017, Stateline: “You have to be 18 to vote in a general election or join the military without your parents’ consent — and you’ve got to be 21 before you can belly up to the bar. But in some states, if you’re under 18 and you break the law, you’ll be treated as an adult, no matter how slight the crime — even if it’s just jumping a subway turnstile or shoplifting…”

Minimum Wage

  • New minimum wage study has fodder for both sides of debate, By David Nicklaus, June 2, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “From St. Louis to Jefferson City to Washington, debates over the minimum wage center on one question: Does it kill jobs? Proponents of a higher minimum paint a picture of workers happily spending their bigger paychecks, while opponents tell a tale about former workers joining the unemployment line. Dozens of studies have attempted to settle the question, but definitive answers don’t come easily…”
  • Passage of Illinois minimum wage bill generates worker optimism, employer anxiety, By Lauren Zumbach, Greg Trotter and Gail MarksJarvis, June 1, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Illinois moved a step closer to raising its minimum wage this week, a development that raised hope among some low-wage workers and concern from businesses worried about ballooning payrolls.  The Illinois Senate approved a bill late Wednesday — just a day after the House passed the same measure — that would gradually raise Illinois’ minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. The measure now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who called the bill ‘extreme’ in a Thursday interview…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • At Trump’s urging, states try to tilt Medicaid in conservative directions, By Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, May 25, 2017, Washington Post: “Wisconsin is preparing to recast its Medicaid program in ways that no state has ever done, requiring low-income adults to undergo drug screening to qualify for health coverage and setting time limits on assistance unless they work or train for a job. The approach places BadgerCare, as the Wisconsin version of Medicaid is known, at the forefront of a movement by Republican governors and legislatures that is injecting a brand of moralism and individual responsibility into the nation’s largest source of public health insurance. From Maine to Arizona, some states are seizing on an invitation by the Trump administration to redesign a program that was created as part of the 1960s Great Society and now covers 69 million Americans…”
  • Wisconsin GOP advances measure that would make state first to drug test for health benefits, By Jason Stein, May 25, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin could become the first state in the nation to require needy but able-bodied adults to work and submit to drug tests to qualify for public health coverage, under a proposal advanced by lawmakers Thursday. Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee outvoted Democrats 12-4 to approve these provisions in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget along with the bill’s requirement that some parents on food stamps work in order to receive benefits…”

Identification Cards and the Homeless

Without ID, homeless trapped in vicious cycle, By Teresa Wiltz, May 15, 2017, Stateline: “Nearly three years ago, when his fiancee died, Robert Giddings was abruptly evicted from their Flint, Michigan, home. His name wasn’t on the lease, so he had no recourse — and his landlord threw out all his things, including his ID. Terrified, he stumbled through the wintry streets for a day, until police picked him up for public intoxication. Giddings says he wasn’t drunk, but blind from untreated cataracts. Giddings was placed in a shelter, but without ID, he couldn’t get the medical care he needed — or even gain entrance to government buildings so he could apply for a replacement ID…”

State Benefit Program Eligibility Checks

What happens when states go hunting for welfare fraud, By Jen Fifield, May 24, 2017, Stateline: “By the time Illinois decided to crack down on Medicaid fraud in 2012, state officials knew that many people enrolled in the program probably weren’t eligible. For years, caseworkers hadn’t had the time or resources to check. To catch up, the state hired a private contractor to identify people who might not be eligible for the low-income health program and to make recommendations for whose benefits should be canceled. Within about a year, Illinois had canceled benefits for nearly 150,000 people whose eligibility could not be verified — and saved an estimated $70 million…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

3-state study sizes up gains via Medicaid; coverage soars in Arkansas, Kentucky, less so in Texas, By Andy Davis, May 23, 2017, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Three years after their states expanded Medicaid, low-income people in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be more likely to have a doctor and less likely to have trouble paying medical bills or to delay seeking care because of the cost, a study has found. The study, conducted annually since 2013 by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found those and other improvements in Arkansas and Kentucky continued to be significant compared with smaller or nonexistent gains in Texas, which did not expand Medicaid…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

As GOP tarries on health bill, funding for children’s health languishes, By Julie Rovner, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “Back in January, Republicans boasted they would deliver a “repeal and replace” bill for the Affordable Care Act to President Donald Trump’s desk by the end of the month. In the interim, that bravado has faded as their efforts stalled and they found out how complicated undoing a major law can be. With summer just around the corner, and most of official Washington swept up in scandals surrounding Trump, the health overhaul delays are starting to back up the rest of the 2018 agenda. One of the immediate casualties is the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. CHIP covers just under 9 million children in low- and moderate-income families, at a cost of about $15 billion a year…”