Medicaid Work Requirements – Kentucky

The nation’s first Medicaid work rules loom, and many fear losing health coverage, By Amy Goldstein, January 19, 2018, Washington Post: “Gov. Matt Bevin is exultant as his administration sets out to transform Medicaid. Only a week ago, he won federal permission to pursue a goal that has animated his two years in office: making hundreds of thousands of poor Kentuckians hold jobs or engage in their communities in other ways to keep their health insurance. It is an approach never tried by any state, and it will also transform lives…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

Affordable Housing

Tax overhaul is a blow to affordable housing efforts, By Conor Dougherty, January 18, 2018, New York Times: “The last time that Congress approved a sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code, in 1986, it created a tax credit meant to encourage the private sector to invest in affordable housing. It has grown into a $9 billion-a-year social program that has funded the construction of some three million apartments for low-income residents. But the Republican tax plan approved last month amounts to a vast cutback, making it much less likely that such construction will continue apace…”

Kids Count Report – New Mexico

  • NM ranked 49th in child well-being, By Rick Nathanson, January 15, 2018, Albuquerque Journal: “A persistently high child poverty rate in New Mexico continues to offset slight improvements in some indicators of child well-being, according to the 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, just released by New Mexico Voices for Children and timed for the opening day of the state Legislature.  The state rates 49th overall in child well-being, with only Mississippi faring worse…”
  • Quality of life for N.M. children, teens takes tumble, By Robert Nott, January 16, 2018, Santa Fe New Mexican: “Just days after a national study ranking New Mexico as the worst state to raise a family, a new report says that more of the state’s children are living in poverty, more children are going without health insurance and more teens and children are living in single-parent households than a year ago…”

Juvenile Court Fines and Fees

Movement against juvenile court fees runs into resistance, By Teresa Wiltz, January 17, 2018, Stateline: “California this month became the first state to eliminate court costs, fees and fines for young offenders. But court officials and legislators wary of forfeiting a key source of revenue have raised roadblocks in states and localities that have tried to follow suit. The Trump administration has further blunted momentum by scrapping an Obama-era warning against imposing excessive fees and fines on juveniles. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the move as part of a broader effort to overhaul regulatory procedures at the Department of Justice. The administration declined to comment on whether it supports the imposition of such fees…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Brownback cut welfare in Kansas. Is Congress about to follow?, By Jonathan Shorman, January 14, 2018, Wichita Eagle: “Welfare restrictions and work requirements have knocked tens of thousands of Kansans off assistance over the past few years. Many get kicked out for not working, but only a small percentage leave because they have a job, the latest federal data reveals. Republicans in Congress have said they want to tackle welfare reform. Some, including Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita, say Washington, D.C. should look to Kansas as an example, but it’s unclear whether program cuts in Kansas left recipients better off…”

Safety Net Hospitals

‘Safety net’ hospitals face federal budget cuts, By Michael Ollove, January 16, 2018, Stateline: “A double whammy of federal budget cuts might force many hospitals, particularly those that serve poor or rural communities, to scale back services or even shut their doors. The $3.6 billion in cuts this year — $2 billion from a program that sends federal dollars to hospitals that serve a high percentage of Medicaid or uninsured patients, and $1.6 billion from a drug discount program — will have the greatest effect on so-called safety net hospitals that provide medical care for all comers, no matter their ability to pay…”

Minimum Wage

After nine years of no change, is the federal minimum wage irrelevant?, By Jana Kasperkevic, January 15, 2018, Marketplace: “If President Donald Trump does not increase the federal minimum wage within the next two years, it will be more than ten years since its last increase — the longest that the federal minimum wage has remained unchanged since it was enacted. With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25, states and cities across the U.S. have increased their local minimum wages instead — some going as far as more than doubling the amount to $15 an hour…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Trump administration opens door to states imposing Medicaid work requirements, By Amy Goldstein, January 11, 2018, Washington Post: “The Trump administration issued guidance to states on Thursday that will allow them to compel people to work or prepare for jobs in order to receive Medicaid for the first time in the half-century history of this fundamental piece of the nation’s social safety net…”
  • Trump administration to allow states to require some Medicaid patients to work to be eligible, By Noam N. Levey, January 11, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “The Trump administration cleared the way Thursday for states to impose work requirements on many Americans who depend on Medicaid, the mammoth government health insurance program for the poor…”
  • Millions of Medicaid recipients already work, By Tami Luhby, January 10, 2018, CNN Money: “The Trump administration is about to start letting states require many Medicaid recipients to work for their benefits. But millions of Americans in the health care safety net program already have jobs…”
  • Work requirements may be just the beginning of Medicaid changes under Trump, By Mattie Quinn, January 12, 2018, Governing: “After months of speculation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) opened the door on Thursday for states to require some low-income people to work in order to qualify for government-sponsored health insurance…”
  • How the Medicaid work requirement could backfire, By Aimee Picchi, January 12, 2018, CBS News: “For most working-age Americans, the health care system is largely tied to employers, with one big exception: Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor, elderly and disabled…”
  • Kentucky is 1st to get OK for Medicaid work requirement, By Adam Beam (AP), January 12, 2018, Detroit News: “Kentucky became the first state to require many of its Medicaid recipients to work to receive coverage, part of an unprecedented change to the nation’s largest health insurance program under the Trump administration…”

Foster Care and the Opioid Crisis – Florida

Opioid epidemic could be stressing foster-care system, study says, By Naseem S. Miller, January 10, 2018, Orlando Sentinel: “A new study shows that the increase in opioid prescription rates in Florida may have had a role in the higher rate of kids being removed from their homes, putting more stress on the state’s foster care system and highlighting the shortage of foster parents…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Budget office cuts cost estimate of children’s insurance, By Alam Fram (AP), January 9, 2018, Connecticut Post: “Congress’ official budget analysts have eased one stumbling block to lawmakers’ fight over renewing a program that provides health insurance for nearly 9 million low-income children. The Congressional Budget Office says a Senate bill adding five years of financing to the program would cost $800 million. Previously, the analysts estimated it would cost $8.2 billion…”

Child Mortality in the US

American babies are 76 percent more likely to die in their first year than babies in other rich countries, By Christopher Ingraham, January 9, 2018, Washington Post: “American babies are 76 percent more likely to die before they turn a year old than babies in other rich countries, and American children who survive infancy are 57 percent more likely to die before adulthood, according to a sobering new study published in the journal Health Affairs…”

Medicaid Expansion and Rural Hospitals

Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid less likely to close, By John Daley, January 8, 2018, National Public Radio: “The expansion of Medicaid helps rural hospitals stay afloat in states like Colorado, which added 400,000 people to the health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid were about 6 times less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states, according to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus…”

Bail Reform – New York

Cuomo, in bid to help poor, proposes ending cash bail for minor crimes, By James C. McKinley Jr., January 2, 2018, New York Times: “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to ask the New York State Legislature to eliminate cash bail for many crimes and to speed up the disclosure of evidence in trials as part of a package of proposals intended make the criminal justice system fairer for indigent defendants, his aides said…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • With children’s health program running dry, parents beg Congress: ‘Do the right thing’, By Robert Pear, December 19, 2017, New York Times: “With more and more states running out of money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, parents took their case to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, pleading with Congress to provide money before their sons and daughters lose health care and coverage. But the program, known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children, took a back seat as lawmakers raced to pass a $1.5 trillion tax cut. CHIP’s fate, it appears, is now caught up in a messy fight over an end-of-the-year deal on spending that must be struck by Friday to avert a government shutdown…”
  • Kids’ health insurance hangs in balance, and parents wonder what’s wrong with Congress, By Robert Samuels, December 21, 2017, Washington Post: “The lingering uncertainty in Congress over the fate of the Children’s Health Insurance Program has left Ashlee and Levi Smith torn between optimism and anxiety. As the parents of two young children who have relied on the government-backed health-care plan, the Smiths are unsure whether they should stretch their finances to put their boys, 3 and 3 months, on a private plan — or have faith that a polarized Congress will work it out…”
  • 2 million kids will lose CHIP coverage right away, report finds, By Maggie Fox, December 21, 2017, NBC News: “Nearly 2 million children will lose health coverage starting next month if Congress doesn’t renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by Friday, a new report projects…”

Community Health Clinics

Congress won’t act; Now community health centers weigh closures, By Michael Ollove, December 18, 2017, Stateline: “Unless Congress provides funding before the end of the year, many of the nation’s 9,800 community health clinics will face service cuts or closure — potentially crippling a vital part of the health system that provides care in poor and underserved communities across every state. And the fallout could mean the loss of more than 160,000 jobs and a hit to state economies of more than $15 billion as staff cutbacks and layoffs ripple through the country. California alone could lose up to 15,841 jobs and nearly $1.7 billion next year…”

Foster Care System – Kentucky, Ohio

  • Lawmakers back big changes to Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, but do they have the money?, By Deborah Yetter, December 19, 2017, Louisville Courier Journal: “A group of state legislators on Tuesday recommended broad changes meant to improve Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system, wrapping up eight months of study of a system critics say is overburdened, underfunded and plagued with frustrating delays. The group’s goal is to improve services for abused and neglected children and help streamline foster care and adoption if the child can’t return home. But many of the changes would be costly, and members acknowledged extra money will be in short supply as the General Assembly prepares to draft a new budget in 2018…”
  • Number of Ohio foster children rising fast during opioid crisis, By Rita Price, December 21, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “A thousand more Ohio children are in foster care this Christmas than last, and advocates say the epidemic of opioid addiction is on track to overwhelm the state’s county-based system of child protection…”

SNAP Eligibility System – Illinois

Food stamp benefits disrupted for thousands as state launches new eligibility system, By Greg Trotter, December 18, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Tens of thousands of Illinois households aren’t receiving federal food stamp benefits leading up to the holidays because of problems with a state computer system. In 2013, the state’s Department of Human Services began rolling out a new computer system to administer entitlement benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as SNAP or food stamps…”

State Minimum Wages

Minimum wage hikes: 18 states, 20 cities to lift pay floors Jan. 1, By Paul Davidson, December 19, 2017, USA Today: “The movement to lift earnings of low-paid workers will gather force in 2018, with a growing number of states and cities raising their minimum wages as high as $15 an hour. Proponents say the initiatives can help narrow a widening income gap between the wealthy and poor. Business advocates say they’re already leading to restaurant closings and layoffs…”