States and the Federal Poverty Guidelines – Vermont

  • Poverty line drop could hurt Vermonters, By Daniel Barlow, December 15, 2009, Rutland Herald: “The federal government’s poverty level guidelines will drop in 2010 for possibly the first time ever, changing the qualifications for a host of programs ranging from state-subsidized health insurance to food stamps. The reduction in what the federal government considers poverty could result in Vermonters either losing benefits they now receive or seeing a decrease in their subsidies depending on their annual household income. For example, for a single person to qualify for a state or federal program that covers up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level they would need to make less than $906 a month. Starting next year, that benchmark changes to $899 a month for a single person…”
  • Calculating poverty, Editorial, December 16, 2009, Rutland Herald: “It is hard to believe that poverty is decreasing in Vermont, but it appears the federal government may be preparing to make that declaration. The federal government establishes federal poverty level guidelines each year to determine who is eligible for a wide variety of assistance from state and federal programs. At present, the poverty level for a single person in Vermont is less than $906 per month. Officials in state government have learned that federal statisticians have run the numbers and found that the poverty guidelines for 2010 may fall for the first time since guidelines were established in 1965. This is alarming to those in state government who manage benefit programs, which include food stamps, welfare and health care programs. If poverty levels drop, people who now rely on federal and state assistance could see their benefits drop significantly…”

Measuring Unemployment – Detroit, MI

Nearly half of Detroit’s workers are unemployed, By Mike Wilkinson, December 16, 2009, Detroit News: “Despite an official unemployment rate of 27 percent, the real jobs problem in Detroit may be affecting half of the working-age population, thousands of whom either can’t find a job or are working fewer hours than they want. Using a broader definition of unemployment, as much as 45 percent of the labor force has been affected by the downturn. And that doesn’t include those who gave up the job search more than a year ago, a number that could exceed 100,000 potential workers alone…”

Extending Jobless Benefits – Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan

  • Jobless Floridians encounter delays in getting extended unemployment benefits, By Jeff Harrington, December 16, 2009, St. Petersburg Times: ” Nearly six weeks after President Barack Obama extended unemployment benefits in hard-hit states like Florida, Janet Husted of St. Petersburg is still waiting for her first check. Like thousands of Floridians, Husted can blame the waiting game on slow technology and bad timing. Floridians who happened to exhaust their unemployment benefits after Nov. 1 were automatically enrolled to receive the new round of extended benefits, so their weekly checks kept flowing. Those whose benefits had expired before November, however, had to reapply with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation…”
  • State’s computers hold up extension of jobless benefits, By John Diedrich, December 13, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The federal government’s latest extension of unemployment benefits passed in early November, but jobless people in Wisconsin have yet to see the money. State officials said Friday the delay was because of computer programming requirements that come with federal funds. They expect the first checks to be mailed Wednesday. President Barack Obama signed the extension at the end of the first week of November – the sixth extension of unemployment benefits during the recession. A delay of more than 30 days is not unusual, said Chris Marschman, spokesman with the state Department of Workforce Development…”
  • Bill would extend programs for unemployed, By Deb Price, December 15, 2009, Detroit News: “Congress would extend the cut-off dates for two critical programs for laid-off Michiganians by two months under a deal announced today. House-Senate conferees working on the Department of Defense appropriations bill reset the expiration dates for expanded unemployment benefits and for a federal subsidy to help laid-off workers pay the premium on COBRA health insurance. ‘It is vital that we maintain these programs for people who are unemployed and actively looking for work,’ said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak. The two-month provisions in the DOD bill are critical to Michigan, which is reeling from an unemployment rate of 15.1 percent, the highest in the nation. The national unemployment rate is 10.2 percent…”

State Health Insurance Programs – Wisconsin

  • Medicaid faces major cuts, By Patrick Marley and Guy Boulton, December 15, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The state may be forced to cut more than $1 billion over the next 18 months from BadgerCare Plus and other health care programs for the disabled, elderly and low-income families. The shortfall comes at a time when more people are turning to BadgerCare Plus because of the state’s battered economy. About 700,000 people were enrolled in BadgerCare Plus alone on Nov. 30, an increase of more than 70,000 since the start of the year. At the same time, state tax revenues have plummeted because of the economic downturn. Since April, the Department of Health Services has been working on a plan to find an estimated $608 million over two years from an array of cost-saving moves, including rewriting contracts, increasing the use of generic drugs, reducing hospital and pharmacy reimbursements and delaying payments…”
  • State health programs for the poor face new budget crisis, By Jason Stein, December 15, 2009, Wisconsin State Journal: “A flood of newly impoverished participants in state health programs for the poor could send those initiatives as much as $150 million into the red, a legislative report found. The projections raise fresh questions about how long the cash-strapped state can afford expanded health programs for struggling Wisconsin residents at a time of unprecedented economic crisis. To keep the programs running, state officials said they would consider tough choices including putting new rules on participants and cutting payments to the clinics and hospitals that care for them…”

Payments to Foster Care Providers – California

California’s payments to foster-care providers are too low, court rules, By Carol J. Williams, December 14, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “California’s compensation to foster-care providers is so low that it violates a federal child-welfare law, an appeals court ruled Monday. In a case brought by group home administrators caring for about 9,500 wards of the state with special needs, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals deemed the state’s payments of 80% or less of the actual cost of care illegal and insufficient. The case was brought last year by California Alliance of Child and Family Services, which operates more than 100 homes across the state for children who have been deemed unsuitable for foster family placements…”

Cancer Screenings for the Low-income

  • Poor being turned away from free cancer screenings, By Valerie Bauman (AP), December 12, 2009, Washington Post: “As the economy falters and more people go without health insurance, low-income women in at least 20 states are being turned away or put on long waiting lists for free cancer screenings, according to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. In the unofficial survey of programs for July 2008 through April 2009, the organization found that state budget strains are forcing some programs to reject people who would otherwise qualify for free mammograms and Pap smears. Just how many are turned away isn’t known; in some cases, the women are screened through other programs or referred to different providers…”
  • Move to curb mammograms for poorest women sparks outrage, By Jim Sanders, December 16, 2009, Fresno Bee: ” Many of California’s lowest-income women in their 40s no longer will be eligible for free breast cancer screenings by the state beginning New Year’s Day. The decision by state health officials has stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition from lawmakers and others who argue that early detection saves lives. A letter signed by 21 members of California’s congressional delegation expressed deep concern and urged rescission of the policy affecting tens of thousands of women…”

Louisville Courier-Journal Series on Child Abuse and Neglect

A Courier-Journal Special Report: Children in Crisis, By Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal:

Kids Count Reports – Louisiana, Kansas

  • Racial disparities reason for ranking in poverty, By Sarah Chacko, December 13, 2009, Baton Rouge Advocate: “Race and location are still the strongest factors in determining whether a child lives in poverty in Louisiana, according to a recent report on the status of the state’s children. In Louisiana, black children are 3.5 times as likely to live in poverty as white children. Poverty rates are highest in rural parishes in northeast Louisiana, along the Mississippi River. However, 2000 census data also show that a majority of black children in every one of the state’s eight largest metropolitan areas lived in a high-poverty neighborhood. Social service experts say government programs have not been expansive enough to fill in the economic and educational gaps…”
  • More Kansas kids in poverty, By Cristina Janney, December 12, 2009, Newton Kansan: “Data recently reported by Kansas Action for Children raises concerns about the number of children living at or just above the poverty level in the state. Kids Count is an annual report from data collected by the Kansas Health Institute for Kansas Action for Children. The report indicates almost 40 percent of Kansas children live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The number of children living in lower-class and lower-middle-class homes increased slowly between 2004 and 2008. However, authors of the report noted the data is dated and may not fully reflect the impact of the recession on household incomes…”