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…”

Low-Income Housing – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Scott Walker’s budget would limit low-income tax credits to those who work, By Jason Stein, February 13, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Gov. Scott Walker’s budget would require able-bodied adults to work to receive a low-income housing credit — part of broader proposals in the bill to move more people into jobs. Starting in 2018, able-bodied adults below the age of 62 will need to earn money to claim the state’s Homestead Credit. The disabled and seniors would be exempt from the requirement…”
  • State lawmakers take aim at low-income housing, By Lydia DePillis, February 15, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Two bills filed this month in the state legislature would make it harder to develop affordable housing in Texas, imposing onerous new requirements on the projects and giving neighbors broad powers to oppose them. Although the chances of passage are unclear — thousands of measures are filed during the four-month session and only a few become law — the bills would be consistent with many other restrictions the legislature has placed on affordable housing development. Meanwhile, helping low-income people access housing is a rising concern for Texas cities, as a flood of new residents has boosted the cost of both rental and for-sale units…”

Foster Care System – Texas

Sweeping reforms recommended for Texas foster care system, By Mike Ward, November 4, 2016, Houston Chronicle: “A pair of special masters on Friday recommended sweeping changes to Texas’ scandal-plagued foster care system, including a ban on housing children in state offices and new limits on group homes.  The numbers of cases assigned to Child Protective Services workers should be cut in half to curb skyrocketing turnover rates and improve supervision, the report states…”

Kids Count Report – Texas

  • Far more Dallas children have health insurance since Obamacare passed, study says, By Naomi Martin, April 13, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “The number of children with health insurance has spiked in Dallas County and in much of Texas since 2009, even as child poverty continues to be a major problem, according to a study released Wednesday.  About 1 in 3 children in Dallas County and the state lives in poverty, the Center for Public Policy Priorities has concluded. But about 87 percent of children in Dallas County have some form of health insurance, vs. 78 percent in 2009.  Despite that, Dallas County’s rate of uninsured children is among the highest in the state. And Texas has the worst uninsured rate in the country, according to the study…”
  • Study: Over 30% of black and Hispanic students in high-poverty schools, By Melissa B. Taboada, April 13, 2016, Austin American-Statesman: “Hispanic students in Texas are seven times more likely than white students to be enrolled in high-poverty schools, which often have fewer tenured and effective teachers, according to a new report being released Wednesday that examines the well-being of the state’s children.  Black students are over 5 times more likely than whites to be enrolled in those same schools, says the State of Texas Children annual report based on data for the 2014-15 school year. The report is being issued by the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank that lobbies for low- to moderate-income Texans…”

High-Poverty Schools – Dallas, TX

Dallas ISD to ask city for help integrating high-poverty schools, By Tawnell D. Hobbs and Holly D. Hacker, February 16, 2016, Dallas Morning News: “Dallas ISD wants to try something radical this fall: Open a school where half the kids are poor and half aren’t. It’s radical because the vast majority of DISD schools are high poverty. Campuses with socioeconomic diversity are few and far between. Many middle- and upper-class families have left DISD over the years for private or suburban schools. To succeed, Dallas ISD will have to lure more students from families with more money back to district schools. Research shows that poor children do much better when they learn alongside wealthier peers…”

Medicaid Expansion for Children – Texas, Florida

Texas and Florida did expand Medicaid — for kids, By Phil Galewitz, September 29, 2014, USA Today: “Republican lawmakers in Florida and Texas snubbed the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion for adults, but their states did broaden the program this year — for school-age children. Those states were among 21 — including some big Democrat-led states, such as California — that were required to widen Medicaid eligibility for children between the ages of 6 and 18 by 2014. That little-known provision of the health law was one factor helping 1.5 million kids gain coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, according to a survey of a dozen states by Kaiser Health News…”

Migrant Laborers

Migrant laborers slip through the tattered safety net in Texas, By Jay Root, June 30, 2014, Texas Tribune: “Along a street lined with warehouses on the east side of Houston, nine Mexican laborers working about 20 feet off the ground are tearing up a concrete roof with handmade pickaxes.They are chiseling it out, one mattress-size panel at a time, then shoving the debris onto the floor below. There’s a giant pile of rubble down there, a jumble of dirty insulation, tar-covered roof decking and fire-suppression water pipes ripped from the building’s interior. To call the work hazardous would be an understatement. The workers are standing on the very roof they are demolishing, and none of them is wearing so much as a hard hat, let alone fall protection equipment like harnesses and lanyards. Technically, federal authorities require that, but the chances of a surprise inspection — or any interference from a state government that brags about its light regulations. . .”

Oil Booms and Poverty – Texas

Boom meets bust in Texas: Atop sea of oil, poverty digs in, By Manny Fernandez and Clifford Krauss, June 29, 2014, New York Times: “From the window of her tin-roofed trailer, Judy Vargas can glimpse a miraculous world. It is as close as the dust kicked up by the trucks barreling by but seems as distant as Mars. As you walk out of her front yard — where the chewed-off leg of an animal, probably a feral hog caught by a prowling bobcat, rots outside — a towering natural gas flare peeks over the southerly view. Across the railroad tracks and Interstate 35, a newly reopened railroad interchange stores acres of pipe and receives shipments of sand from Wisconsin to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Next to the terminal is an expanding natural gas processing plant that lies in the heart of the Eagle Ford, a giant shale oil field that here in La Salle County alone produces more than $15 million worth of oil a day, or about one out of every 55 barrels produced in the United States. . .”

Unaccompanied Child Migrants

Surge in child migrants reaches New York, overwhelming advocates, By Kirk Semple, June 17, 2014, New York Times: “For more than a month, 16-year-old Cristian threaded his way from his home in rural Guatemala to the United States, hoping to reunite with his father, whom he had not seen in nearly four years. Guided by smugglers, he rode in cars, buses and trains, walked countless miles, dodged the authorities in three countries, hid out in dreary safe houses and went days at a time without food. But Cristian’s trip came to an abrupt halt in March, when he was corralled on a patch of Texas ranchland by American law enforcement agents. Now the daunting trials of his migration have been replaced by a new set of difficulties. Though he was released to his father, a kitchen worker in a restaurant in Ulster County, N.Y., Cristian has been ordered to appear in immigration court for a deportation hearing and is trying to find a low-cost lawyer to take his case . . .”

Medicaid Expansion

  • In Texarkana, uninsured and on the wrong side of a state line, By Annie Lowrey, June 8, 2014, New York Times: “On a hazy, hot evening here, Janice Marks ate a dinner of turkey and stuffing at a homeless shelter filled with plastic cots before crossing a few blocks to the Arkansas side of town to start her night shift restocking the dairy cases at Walmart. The next day, David Tramel and Janice McFall had a free meal of hot dogs and doughnut holes at a Salvation Army center in Arkansas before heading back to their tent, hidden in a field by the highway in Texas. None of the three have health insurance. But had Ms. Marks, 26, chosen to sleep on the side of town where she works, or had Mr. Tramel and Ms. McFall, who are both in their early 20s, made their camp where they had eaten their dinner, their fortunes might be different. . .”
  • Long waits persist for those applying for Medicaid coverage in many states, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2014, Washington Post: “While an unprecedented 6 million people have gained Medicaid coverage since September, mostly as a result of the Affordable Care Act, more than 1.7 million more are still waiting for their applications to be processed — with some stuck in limbo for as long as eight months, according to officials in 15 large states. The scope of the problem varies widely. California accounts for a lion’s share of the backlog with 900,000 applications pending as of early June. The next-biggest pileup is in Illinois, with 283,000 cases, while New York has no backlog at all. All three states have implemented the health law’s expansion of Medicaid . . . “

Child Poverty – Dallas, TX

Study: Nearly 30% of Dallas County children growing up in poverty, By Sherry Jacobson, November 12, 2013, Dallas Morning News: “Despite an improving economy, children in Dallas County are still suffering, according to a report released Tuesday by Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Nearly 30 percent of those 18 and younger were living below the poverty level last year. Some had no health insurance and many were in homes without enough food. ‘Poverty is the common factor in substandard academic achievement, exposure to crime, domestic abuse and emotional distress,’ said Christopher J. Durovich, Children’s president and chief executive officer. ‘Without access to preventive health care, impoverished children also suffer from needless illnesses.’ He said he was surprised the percentage of poverty-stricken children has been virtually unchanged for the last three years…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Texas

Bill to drug-test welfare applicants approved, By Chuck Lindell, March 26, 2013, Austin American-Statesman: “The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved a bill to implement drug testing for welfare applicants after changes were made to ensure that benefits for children would continue despite a positive drug test for a parent. Benefits would be cut off only for the adult who tests positive for drugs, said the bill’s author, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. A second positive test would cancel the adult’s benefits for one year, though Temporary Assistance for Needy Families could be reinstated after six months with proof of completion or enrollment in a drug-rehabilitation program. A third drug test would produce a lifetime ban from welfare benefits, Nelson said…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • At Capitol, fight is on to expand Medicaid, By Chuck Lindell, February 17, 2013, Austin American-Statesman: “Adamantly opposed to expanding Medicaid coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had seemingly squelched efforts this legislative session to insure an additional 1.1 million low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act. But a determined campaign, targeting legislators with public pressure and private persuasion, has kept the issue alive by framing Medicaid expansion as an economic bonanza and tax-relief opportunity that would bring $79 billion in much-needed federal money over 10 years. The arguments, pitched to Republican ears, have carved out a small space in which lawmakers can work toward an agreement that once appeared impossible…”
  • Medicaid takes a back seat in the 89th General Assembly, By Andrew DeMillo (AP), February 17, 2013, Arkansas Business Online: “What happened to the Medicaid session? Despite all the talk before lawmakers gathered at the Arkansas Capitol that Medicaid’s finances and future would overshadow just about every other issue, there’s been scant attention paid to the $5 billion program and efforts to expand it under the federal health care law. Medicaid is instead taking a backseat to a growing number of conservative causes — new abortion restrictions, relaxed gun rules and voter ID, to name a few — that are easily winning support now that Republicans control the House and the Senate. As this year’s session enters its sixth week, those GOP-backed proposals have taken center stage, rather than discussions on whether Arkansas should expand the Medicaid program by 250,000 people under the federal health care law…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Texas deal on Medicaid expansion sought, By Chris Tomlinson (AP), January 24, 2013, Houston Chronicle: “The Affordable Care Act is the federal law that Texas Republicans love to hate, but one top lawmaker says expanding health care for the working poor could happen if federal authorities are willing to strike a deal. Republican Sen. Jane Nelson, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, said she hopes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow Texas to receive $27 billion to expand Medicaid. But she said the key is to allow lawmakers to develop a Texas-specific program that will not blow the state’s budget…”
  • New bill would expand Nebraska’s Medicaid program, By Martha Stoddard, January 23, 2013, Omaha World-Herald: “Savings produced by the federal health care law could more than pay for extending Medicaid to thousands of low-income Nebraskans, according to a key lawmaker. State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha released an analysis of potential costs and savings for the expansion Wednesday. He did so as a group of state lawmakers introduced a bill to expand Medicaid coverage as allowed under the federal health care overhaul…”
  • Snyder eyes mental health makeover, By Alanna Durkin (AP), January 25, 2013, Escanaba Daily Press: “Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to fill the gaps of Michigan’s mental health care system might lie in his ability to convince lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to expand Medicaid to provide 500,000 Michigan residents with coverage under the federal Affordable Health Care Act. Snyder, a Republican, told the Associated Press Wednesday that it would ‘actually expand mental health coverage significantly’ and that it is ‘one of the factors’ he is ‘taking into account.’ Snyder said he will ‘make that call’ during his budget presentation Feb. 7…”
  • Democrats pressing Corbett to expand Medicaid, By Harold Brubaker, January 25, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “In a bid to build pressure on Gov. Corbett to expand Medicaid next year, Democratic members of the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee met Thursday in Philadelphia with city health officials, hospital experts, and advocates for the poor. The session in City Hall came less than two weeks before Corbett is to present his budget proposal for fiscal 2014. Were he to opt for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, provisions for the rollout starting in October would have to be built into that budget, officials said…”

Medicaid Expansion – Texas

Texas counties consider going it alone on Medicaid expansion, By N.C. Aizenman, August 26, 2012, Washington Post: “Local officials in Texas are discussing whether to band together to expand Medicaid coverage in some of the state’s biggest counties, making an end run around Gov. Rick Perry’s opposition to the expanded program included in President Obama’s health-care law. For years, Texas’s six most populous counties, as well as some smaller localities, have offered free or low-cost health care for uninsured residents with incomes as much as three times the federal poverty level, or about $57,000 for a family of three. The cost of the programs: about $2 billion a year. If some of the patients were enrolled in Medicaid, the state-federal health-care program for the poor, it could be salve for cash-strapped county budgets and a boon for local taxpayers…”

High School Graduation Rate – Texas

Texas’ high school graduation rate reaches record high, By Jennifer Radcliffe, August 3, 2012, Houston Chronicle: “Graduation rates for Texas’ black and Hispanic students topped 80 percent for the first time in state history in 2011, but they still lagged behind the record-setting overall graduation rate of 86 percent, the Texas Education Agency reported Friday. Hispanic graduation rates increased 3 percentage points to 81.8 percent, while black students’ rate increased 2 percentage points to 80.9 percent…”

2012 Kids Count Data Book – Southern States

  • Report says 1 in 4 Kentucky children and 1 in 5 Hoosier kids are mired in child poverty, By Jessie Halladay, July 25, 2012, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One in four Kentucky children lives in poverty, and their numbers have increased starkly since 2005, according to the latest Kids Count report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Mirroring a national trend, the number of the state’s children living below the poverty line – defined in 2010 as $22,113 for a family of two adults and two children – rose 18 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the annual report, which provides an annual snapshot of child well-being. In Indiana, one in five children lives in poverty, a 29 percent increase between 2005 and 2010…”
  • Maryland ranks 10th in child well-being, national study says, By Yvonne Wenger, July 25, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “Fewer Maryland children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods than a decade ago, but the lingering economic slump has left more parents without a steady paycheck, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported Wednesday. The Baltimore-based charity ranks Maryland 10th in the nation for overall child well-being in its 2012 Kids Count Data Book, which analyzed nationwide research and statistics on children’s economic well-being, education, health, family and community…”
  • Study: More SC kids living in poverty, By Gina Smith, July 26, 2012, The State: “South Carolina ranks near the bottom – 43rd among the 50 states – in a ranking of children’s well being. That is according to the newly released Kids Count report, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that assesses the overall health of the nation’s children, including their economic health, family situation and education. The most-troubling S.C. finding is the number of children living in poverty…”
  • Kids Count report ranks W.Va. as one of worst in education, By Megan Workman, July 24, 2012, Charleston Gazette: “With nearly four out of five eighth-grade students who are not proficient in math, West Virginia received one of the worst education rankings in the country, a national report being released today shows. Nationwide, the percentage of eighth-graders who are not proficient in math decreased from 72 percent in 2005 to 66 percent in 2011, according to the report. West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation in education, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada join West Virginia as the five states ranked weakest for education…”
  • Alabama 45th of 50 for child well-being in 2012 Kids Count Data Book, By Kim Chandler, July 25, 2012, Birmingham News: “Alabama made its best showing ever in an annual ranking of child well-being, but it still came in 45th among the 50 states. The 2012 Kids Count Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed Alabama made gains in education but continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty. The report ranked Alabama 45th, the state’s best ranking since the Data Book began publication in 1990…”
  • Oklahoma lags in child well-being ranks, By Mike Averill, July 25, 2012, Tulsa World: “Despite slight improvement, Oklahoma remains near the bottom of the country for child well-being, according to a national report that ranks states using an index of 16 indicators in four categories. Oklahoma ranked 40th overall, up from last year’s 43rd spot, according to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Texas 44th in children’s well-being, By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, July 26, 2012, San Antonio Express-News: “Texas ranks 44th among the states when it comes to the health and well-being of its children, according to a study by a Baltimore nonprofit that advocates for at-risk kids. Using the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the study found the child poverty rate in Texas was higher in 2010 than the national rate of 22 percent, with 26 percent living in poverty. Texas was second from the bottom in children who lack health insurance, with an uninsured rate of 14 percent in 2010, although that’s been decreasing…”
  • Report ranks Florida behind most states on child health and education, By Margie Menzel, July 26, 2012, Daytona Beach News-Journal: “A new report Wednesday shows Florida trailing most other states in the health and education of its children — with an especially low ranking in economic well-being. The effects are harmful and could be long-term — not just for the children but for the state, advocates say. The annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 44th in the economic well-being of its children, 38th in their health outcomes and 35th in their educational performance. The state ranks 38th overall. The number of Florida children living in poverty is up 28 percent from 2005 to 2010, the last year for which data was included in the study. That measurement considers such factors as whether the parents have secure employment or the ability to cover their housing costs…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Working poor stand at center of Medicaid debate, By Juan Carlos Llorca (AP), July 23, 2012, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Jose Gallegos’ company eliminated employee health insurance to save money, so when his gut started hurting and his skin took on a yellow tinge, he resisted seeing a doctor. When he finally went to the emergency room, physicians diagnosed stomach cancer. Gallegos made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy his own insurance, so he scraped together what he could, and his wife, Andrea, took on three jobs. Just over a year later, at 41, he died, leaving behind four children. Two years later, it was Andrea’s turn. A crack and sharp pain in her back drove her to the emergency room, where she learned she had breast cancer. It had snapped one of her vertebra. Now 45, she said the cancer remains in several other vertebrae, but at the moment it’s not spreading. Families like the Gallegos stand at the center of a debate over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, which could have expanded Medicaid coverage to 1.3 million uninsured Texans. But Republican Gov. Rick Perry has said he will not widen the program because it would cost too much…”
  • Alabama weighs costs, benefits of medicaid expansion under Affordable Care Act, By Kim Chandler, July 22, 2012, Birmingham News: “Alabama could make deep reductions in the number of people who go each day without health insurance if state officials choose to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Alabama ranks 14th in the country for the number of people who likely would be added to the Medicaid rolls if the program were expanded, according to estimates from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Alabama also is one of five states where more than 60 percent of the state’s uninsured population could become eligible for Medicaid if the expansion were implemented, according to the Urban Institute. But those gains in insurance — while mostly paid for by the federal government — wouldn’t be entirely free to the state. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of services for new enrollees for the first three years, but that eventually would drop to 90 percent…”

State Medicaid Programs – Maine, Texas

  • Maine debate hints at rift on Medicaid after ruling, By Abby Goognough and Robert Pear, July 18, 2012, New York Times: “As some Republican governors declare that they will not expand Medicaid under the national health care law, Gov. Paul R. LePage is going a step further. In what could lead to a direct confrontation with the Obama administration, he is planning to cut thousands of people from Maine’s Medicaid rolls, arguing that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the law gives him license to do so. Mr. LePage, a Republican, says the ruling gave states leeway to tighten eligibility for Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health care to low-income and disabled people. Federal officials insist that while the ruling allowed states to opt out of a planned expansion of Medicaid, it left intact all other aspects of the law affecting the program…”
  • The big push on Medicaid fraud, By Emily Ramshaw, July 19, 2012, New York Times: “When it comes to finding cost savings in the state’s unwieldy Medicaid program, the Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Commission gets high marks. The division, charged with investigating fraud among health care providers paid to treat impoverished children and the disabled, has drastically increased both its caseload and the potential monetary returns associated with it over the last fiscal year. The spike has won glowing reviews from budget-weary state lawmakers and has cast Texas’ innovative enforcement team into the national spotlight. But O.I.G.’s dollar-recovery strategy – which includes an increased reliance on a rule that allows investigators to freeze financing for any health care provider accused of overbilling – has enraged doctors, dentists and other providers who treat Medicaid patients. They say an anonymous call to a fraud hot line or a computer-generated analysis of a handful of billing codes is enough to halt their financing without even a hearing, jeopardizing their practices and employees and leaving thousands of needy patients in a lurch while the state works to prove – or rule out – abuse…”