State Health Insurance Plans – Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina

  • Fla. Medicaid lawsuit heads to trial, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), December 2, 2009, Miami Herald: “The state has spent about $2 million defending a class-action lawsuit that claims Florida is violating federal Medicaid requirements by providing inadequate medical and dental care to more than a million children. The case, scheduled for trial next week, claims 390,000 children did not get a medical checkup in 2007 and more than 750,000 received no dental care. The problem: Many doctors and dentists won’t accept Medicaid as Florida’s reimbursement rates are among the country’s lowest. Medicaid pays $15 for a basic dental exam in Florida, compared to $25 in Tennessee, which is considered a model of success for Medicaid dental reform. It’s about $40 for private insurance. A pilot program in Miami-Dade County pays dentists a monthly fee of $6.55 to treat each child…”
  • TN health insurance plans stop enrolling needy, By Christina E. Sanchez and Janell Ross, December 2, 2009, The Tennessean: “As state funds run dry, Tennessee has cut off enrollment for two health insurance programs for low-income people, leaving the state at risk of a crisis, advocates say. Tennessee became the only state in the nation to have frozen enrollment for a children’s health insurance program funded largely with federal money, according to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. The state stopped accepting new CoverKids applicants on Monday. At the same time, the state stopped enrolling adults in CoverTN, an insurance program designed for the self-employed and working poor…”
  • NC Medicaid dealing with cost-control delays, By Gary D. Robertson, December 1, 2009, Charlotte Observer: “North Carolina is breaking the Medicaid budget lawmakers approved this summer because more people need health insurance coverage after losing their jobs and are getting treated for swine flu, an agency leader said Tuesday. State spending for the government health insurance program for low-income families and senior citizens – along with the disabled – is $160 million over budget so far this fiscal year as expenditures have surged nearly 9 percent compared to a year ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler said…”

Climate Change and Aid to Poor Nations

  • Climate change help for the poor ‘has not materialised’, November 25, 2009, BBC News: “Rich countries pledged $410m (£247m) a year in a 2001 declaration – but it is now unclear whether the money was paid. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused industrialised countries of failing to keep their promise. The EU says the money was paid out in bilateral deals, but admits it cannot provide data to prove it. The money was pledged in the 2001 Bonn Declaration, signed by 20 industrialised nations – the 15 countries that then made up the European Union, plus Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. They said they would pay $410m per year until 2008. The date the payments were meant to start is unclear, but the total should be between $1.6bn and $2.87bn. The declaration said: ‘We are prepared to contribute $410m, which is 450 million euro, per year by 2005 with this level to be reviewed in 2008.’ But only $260m has ever been paid into two UN funds earmarked for the purpose, the BBC World Service investigation has found…”
  • UK and France propose climate fund for poor, November 28, 2009, BBC News: “UK PM Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have proposed a multi-billion-dollar fund to help developing nations deal with climate change. Mr Brown said the $10bn (£6bn) fund should also be used to help developing nations cut greenhouse gas emissions. Both spoke at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad, the last major world forum before the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen on 7 December. Many Commonwealth members are island states threatened by rising sea levels. Mr Sarkozy, with UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Prime Lars Loekke Rasmussen, is there to give weight to any climate change statement. The topic was the only issue on the Commonwealth summit’s agenda for the first day…”

Drought and Poverty – India

Amid droughts and failed crops, a cycle of poverty worsens, By Mark Magnier, December 1, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “She stops for long stretches, lost in thought, trying to make sense of how she’s been left half a person. Sunita, 18, who requested that her family name not be used to preserve her chance of getting married, said her nightmare started in early 2007 after her father took a loan for her sister’s wedding. The local moneylender charged 60% annual interest. When the family was unable to make the exorbitant interest payments, she said, the moneylender forced himself on her, not once or twice but repeatedly over many months. ‘I used to cry a lot and became a living corpse,’ she said. Sunita’s allegations, which the moneylender denies, cast a harsh light on widespread abuses in rural India, where a highly bureaucratic banking system, corruption and widespread illiteracy allow unethical people with extra income to exploit poor villagers, activists say…”

Health Care Reform and Low-income Families – Virginia

Uninsured in Virginia: Health care reform bills hold promise for low-income families, By Lisa Finneran, November 29, 2009, Daily Press: “Bernard Hampton knows what it’s like to pay for his family’s medical care. Until a few months ago, neither Hampton nor his 4-year-old daughter, Jasene, had health insurance. Recently, Hampton applied for and received health insurance through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the federal program known in Virginia as the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, or FAMIS. It provides low-cost health insurance to children in low- to moderate-income families who don’t qualify for Medicaid…”

States and Privatization of Food Stamp Program

Companies still key to welfare fix, By Angela Mapes Turner, December 2, 2009, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: “Indiana’s proposed fix to its welfare system includes handing the bulk of supervisory duties back to state employees. But those employees number only a third of what they did before the state’s failed attempt to privatize welfare processing, and the preliminary plan appears at odds with a recent federal caution against privatization. Documents obtained by The Journal Gazette outline the state’s hybrid plan to fix the system. The draft outline indicates Vanderburgh County – an early participant in privatization in 2007 and a squeaky wheel in bringing problems to light – might be first to launch a new system in January. According to the documents, Indiana’s plan continues to rely heavily on private, for-profit companies, despite a caution from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the federally funded food stamp program, warning states against such contracts…”