Welfare Reform – Kansas

$25 ATM limit for Kansas welfare recipients may violate federal law, By Lindsay Wise and Dion Lefler, May 16, 2015, Wichita Eagle: “A first-of-its-kind provision that prevents welfare recipients in Kansas from withdrawing more than $25 a day from an ATM might violate federal law – and could jeopardize the state’s federal funding if not amended. The Social Security Act requires states to ensure that recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, ‘have adequate access to their cash assistance’ and can withdraw money ‘with minimal fees or charges.’  At stake is about $102 million in TANF block grant money that Kansas receives every year from the federal government.  The ATM limit was added as an amendment to a welfare overhaul bill signed in April by Gov. Sam Brownback…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Bill tightening restrictions on welfare recipients advances in Kansas Senate, By Bryan Lowry, April 2, 2015, Wichita Eagle: “The Kansas Senate is moving forward with a bill that limits people to 36 months of welfare benefits, bans repeat drug offenders from food assistance for life and restricts the amount recipients can withdraw from an ATM using a welfare benefits card.  Senators passed HB 2258 by voice vote Wednesday after a heated debate that lasted most of the day. The bill will be up for a final vote Thursday and is expected to pass easily. The bill makes changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly called welfare, and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps. The programs are federally funded but administered by the states…”

Long-Term Impacts of Medicaid

Study: Medicaid-eligible children pay more in taxes as adults, By Amanda Cuda, January 12, 2015, Stamford Advocate: “Children of the 1980s who were eligible for expanded Medicaid benefits in their youth paid more in taxes as adults, according to a new study from Yale University. The study also showed that these same people were more likely to attend college and less likely to die prematurely in adulthood than peers who weren’t eligible for benefits. For some advocates, the research supports what they have long believed about providing Medicaid to vulnerable populations…”

Health Care Exchanges

Competition heats up on health care exchanges for 2015, By Jayne O’Donnell and Kaitlyn Krasselt, USA Today: “Insurance companies are gingerly moving onto health care exchanges in some competition-deprived states, and they are requesting rate increases that are largely in line with pre-Obamacare years, state filings show. A few big and many smaller insurers avoided the 2014 state- and federal-run health care exchanges that sold individual insurance plans as required under the new law. Some blame these insurer absences for higher rates than many people expected under the Affordable Care Act, but that’s likely to change for the 2015 plan year, experts say. ‘There’s a lot more competition now than there was prior to the advent of the ACA . . .”

Public Assistance Eligibility

  • Legislation restricting food stamps, welfare advancesBy Michelle Millhollon, May 21, 2014, New Orleans Advocate: “Welfare recipients would be unable to use their federal benefits at liquor stores, nail salons, bars, cruise ships and psychic businesses under legislation that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday. The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare also tackled food stamp recipients. The panel advanced legislation that would cut off grocery assistance for Tangipahoa Parish residents without small children unless they seek an education or job training. House Bill 1176 would put into state law what already exists in state rules. Welfare benefits aren’t supposed to be used for the purchase of alcohol. . .”
  • Rejecting Bloomberg Policies, New York City Will Ease Some Hurdles to Public AssistanceBy Kate Taylor, May 19, 2014, New York Times: “The new commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration on Monday announced a set of sweeping changes that would remove some work requirements and other barriers to receiving public assistance, cheering advocates for the poor and underscoring the sharp change in direction by Mayor Bill de Blasio away from the welfare policies of his predecessor. In the most significant change announced by the commissioner, Steven Banks, adults without children will no longer have to work full-time to receive food stamps. In addition, the city will start a pilot program to allow people receiving welfare up to five excused absences from their employment programs for illness or family emergency. The agency will also create a system to make calls or send text messages reminding welfare recipients of appointments. . .”
  • Missouri Legislature passes bill lifting lifetime ban from food stamps for drug felonsBy Marie French, May 15, 2014, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “An 18-year-old ban that keeps anyone with a drug-related felony conviction from receiving food assistance from the state would be lifted under a bill sent to Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday. The measure lifts the lifetime ban but imposes a one-year wait after a conviction or release from custody. It also requires that the individual either not need a treatment program, complete one or be on a waiting list. After three drug-related felonies, they would no longer be eligible for food stamps. Christine McDonald, of St. Charles, has been advocating for the state to change the program for more than five years. She is a recovered drug addict who is also blind. She now works to help former prostitutes like herself and runs a charity. . .”

Assistance Programs and Drug Testing

Some states still pushing drug testing for welfare, By Jake Grovum, March 6, 2014, Stateline: “From written tests designed to flag drug users to singling out people with recent drug convictions, state lawmakers across the country are pursuing novel strategies to deny welfare benefits to drug users without running afoul of a recent federal court ruling. In December, a federal judge in Florida struck down the state’s drug-test requirement. But almost half the states are considering drug-testing bills designed to withstand legal scrutiny. In Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi, such measures already have advanced by overwhelming majorities…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Minnesota

Drug tests of welfare recipients prove costly, By Chris Serres, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “A new state law designed to prevent drug users from receiving welfare benefits could end up costing taxpayers far more than it saves, while inadvertently denying assistance to poor families simply because they are unable to comply with its complex paperwork. Like a recent wave of drug-testing laws passed in other states, Minnesota’s legislation was touted as a way to encourage greater responsibility among welfare recipients while saving taxpayers money. But many county officials and advocacy groups say the reality is quite different: The law contains a bevy of costly local mandates and complicated rules that apply to just a tiny fraction of the 167,000 Minnesotans receiving welfare and other cash benefits…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Medicaid expansion gap could leave poor shortchanged, By Kelly Kennedy, September 5, 2013, USA Today: “The decision of some states not to expand Medicaid means that the nation’s poorest — those the Affordable Care Act would have helped the most — may not receive any help at all. That’s because the 2010 law was written to provide Medicaid coverage for those making less than 100% of the federal poverty level, $23,550 for a family of four, in all 50 states. Because those Americans were to get Medicaid coverage, they were not made eligible for the federal tax subsidies that would help them pay for health insurance they will be required to buy…”
  • Michigan House gives final approval to Medicaid expansion, sending bill to Gov. Rick Snyder, By Jonathan Oosting, September 3, 2013, Mlive: “Michigan is poised to become the 25th state to move forward with Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act — and just the third state led by a Republican governor and Legislature to do so…”
  • Kentucky Medicaid expansion, healthcare exchanges proceed with judge’s approval, By Tom Loftus, September 3, 2013, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The Beshear administration’s plans to expand Medicaid and begin enrollment in Kentucky’s new health care exchange survived their first court challenge Tuesday. In separate rulings, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd upheld both decisions by Gov. Steve Beshear intended to expand access to health care to 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare…”
  • Thousands of Hoosiers will keep coverage with deal to extend Healthy Indiana Plan, By Maureen Groppe and John Russell, September 3, 2013, Indianapolis Star: “President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul envisioned that about half of Indiana’s uninsured residents would get coverage through an expansion of Medicaid, the jointly run federal and state health program for the poor. A compromise that GOP Gov. Mike Pence reached with the Obama administration Tuesday would let tens of thousands of low-income Hoosiers continue to get health care next year through an alternative Medicaid program that includes cost sharing and fewer benefits. And the deal leaves up in the air whether Indiana will see a full expansion of Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of poor, uninsured Hoosiers…”
  • Ballot is ‘Plan B’ for expanding Medicaid, By Catherine Candisky, September 5, 2013, Columbus Dispatch: “If lawmakers don’t approve Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid, voters could decide whether to give tax-funded health coverage to an additional 275,000 poor Ohioans. A coalition of health-care providers, unions, businesses, religious organizations and other advocates for the uninsured launched a campaign yesterday that could put the plan on the November 2014 statewide ballot…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Gov: Utah won’t decide on Medicaid expansion until 2014, By Robert Gehrke and Jennifer Dobner, August 22, 2013, Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he will not make a decision until next year about whether to expand Medicaid to cover more of the state’s uninsured. Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans must get health insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty. The law gives states the option of expanding eligibility for their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income residents…”
  • Snyder picking up push for Medicaid expansion, critics offering ‘hot air’ balloon rides ahead of vote, By Jonathan Oosting, August 21, 2013, MLive: “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is beginning his final push for Medicaid reform and expansion ahead of an expected Senate vote next week…”
  • Republican legislator proposes new cuts to Medicaid, By Catherine Candisky, August 23, 2013, Columbus Dispatch: “Thousands of poor pregnant women, parents and disabled workers would lose tax-funded health coverage under a Cincinnati-area Republican’s proposal to slash Medicaid eligibility…”

State Medicaid Programs

Amid health law expansion, some states trim the Medicaid rolls, By Phil Galewitz, August 18, 2013, Washington Post: “While millions of adults nationwide will gain Medicaid coverage next year under the federal health law, more than 150,000 people could lose their coverage in the state-federal health insurance program for the poor as four states reduce eligibility. The states planning to make the cuts in January are Maine, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Vermont. Most people losing access to Medicaid will be eligible for federal subsidies to help buy private coverage in the law’s online insurance marketplaces also starting in January, but advocates worry some will struggle to afford higher premiums and other cost-sharing expenses…”

Health Insurance Coverage for the Uninsured

  • King County health officials map strategy to reach uninsured, By Lisa Stiffler, August 8, 2013, Seattle Times: “Health officials in King County are rallying the troops and drafting maps to prepare for an all-out effort to get health-care coverage for uninsured residents. Countywide, approximately 16 percent of the population lacks health insurance. But from Burien and Tukwila south to the county line, and in scattered pockets to the north, those numbers are higher, reaching nearly one-third in some places…”
  • Colorado presses for uninsured to enroll, By Abby Goodnaugh, August 2, 2013, New York Times: “Television commercials have already run suggesting that buying health coverage through the state’s new insurance market, Connect for Health Colorado, will feel like winning the World Series…”
  • Critics say Obamacare may tempt subsidy applicants to lie about benefits, By Tony Pugh, August 6, 2013, Kansas City Star: “The Obama administration is trying to quiet growing concern that people will lie about their incomes and other personal information in order to land larger health insurance-premium tax credits, the cash assistance that will help millions pay for coverage next year. Once health plan enrollment begins on new state insurance exchanges in October, an estimated 7 million people are expected to purchase individual and small-group coverage by the end of March…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Who loses out under Obamacare, By Tami Luhby, July 25, 2013, CNNMoney: “When the state-based insurance exchanges open next year under Obamacare, many Americans should finally have access to affordable insurance. But millions of others will most likely be left out in the cold and remain uninsured. These folks — mainly low-income adults in the 21 states that aren’t expanding Medicaid — will not be eligible for either the long-standing government health insurance program for the poor, or for premium subsidies in the new exchanges…”
  • State lawmakers not giving up on Medicaid expansion, By Natasha Lindstrom, July 28, 2013, The Sentinel: “Lawmakers who lost their push last month to get Pennsylvania to expand Medicaid are gearing up to press even harder when the General Assembly reconvenes in September…”
  • Much is at stake for minorities in Medicaid debate, By Steve Twedt, July 25, 2013, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “As Pennsylvania decides whether to expand its Medicaid program, a new study says the decision will have a major impact on the state’s racial and ethnic minorities. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that 15 percent of African Americans in Pennsylvania are without health insurance and nearly two-thirds of them would qualify for coverage under federal poverty level criteria set out by the Affordable Care Act if Medicaid were expanded…”
  • Medicaid changes spur concerns locally, By Marissa Harshman, July 29, 2013, The Columbian: “In the next year, the state of Washington expects to have more than 600,000 newly insured residents. A significant portion — about 330,000 people — will receive medical coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid program…”
  • Medicaid expansion a must to qualify for federal dollars, By Whitney Evans, August 1, 2013, Deseret News: “As Utah leaders explored options for expanding Medicaid coverage, one thing became clear: The state needs to act. ‘By far the costliest option to the state is sending our tax dollars to Washington and getting nothing back,’ Sven Wilson, economist and senior consultant for the Utah Department of Health, told members of the Medicaid Expansion Options Community Workgroup…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

House plan on food stamps would cut 5 million from program, By Ron Nixon, July 30, 2013, New York Times: “Nearly half a million people who receive food stamps but still do not get enough to eat would lose their eligibility for the program under proposed cuts that are expected to be taken up again by Congress. An additional 160,000 to 305,000 recipients who do get enough to eat would also lose their eligibility and the ability to adequately feed themselves. In total, about 5.1 million people would be eliminated from the program, according to a new report…”

Child Are Subsidies – Maryland

Md. child care subsidy program underfunded, By Tricia Bishop, July 15, 2013, Baltimore Sun: “Maryland’s Child Care Subsidy program, which gives poor families vouchers for care so parents can work or go to school, is so underfunded that it hasn’t met federal rate guidelines in a decade and still uses income eligibility criteria from 2001. The deficit prevents thousands of families from participating and relegates many of those who do to the least expensive care available — often the lowest caliber in terms of facilities, educational offerings and staff training…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – North Carolina

Revised proposal still may deter welfare recipients, By Annalise Frank, July 8, 2013, Charlotte Observer: “An effort to require all welfare recipients to pass a drug test to qualify for benefits that passed the Senate earlier this session has been given a facelift, but advocates for the poor say it’s still an ugly bill. House Bill 392 requires county Social Services employees to do background checks on all applicants for Work First benefits – the state’s welfare program – and food stamps to ensure they’re not parole or probation violators, or have outstanding felony warrants. It also requires drug testing of any Work First recipient suspected of being a drug user. That provision is a step back from a bill the Senate passed in April that required drug testing for all Work First applicants. Worries over the legality of the Senate bill led lawmakers in the House to insert a new version of the testing requirement into the background checks bill…”

SNAP Eligibility and Enrollment – Los Angeles, CA

Nearly half of those eligible for food stamps refuse benefits, By Christina Villacorte, June 16, 2013, Los Angeles Daily News: “The food bank at Meet Each Need with Dignity in Pacoima was bustling on a recent day with people reaching for donated fruits, vegetables, juice and other goods. And yet, when a volunteer grabbed a microphone to ask the hungry crowd, ‘Who wants to apply for food stamps?’ no one raised a hand. The scene captured the dilemma of the county Department of Public Social Services, which has struggled to boost enrollment in the federal food stamp program, known locally as CalFresh. In Los Angeles County, 1.1 million low-income Americans and legal residents receive up to $200 per individual, or $668 per family of four, every month for groceries…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

A year later, Pa. food-stamp test called too complex, By Alfred Lubrano, May 3, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer: “A year ago this week, Pennsylvania tied eligibility for food stamps to the assets people possess. Since then, nearly 4,000 households have lost or were denied benefits because they had too many financial resources, according to the Department of Public Welfare. In that same time, many more people – around 111,000 households – were denied benefits because they failed to provide proper documentation for the asset test…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – New York City

Many Staten Islanders in need miss out on food stamps, By Judy L. Randall, May 13, 2013, Staten Island Advance: “The way Saeeda Usmani sees it, her participation in the federal food stamp program has been a godsend. At 71, the retired nurse from Stapleton couldn’t afford to maintain her medically mandated gluten-free diet, which can be pricey, without assistance. As it is, because Ms. Usmani tires easily, she goes to the supermarket only every three weeks and carefully husbands the fresh fruits and vegetables that she purchases with the $173 she receives each month from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the current name for food stamps. But Ms. Usmani is something of a rarity among SNAP-eligible low-income Staten Islanders 60 and older: Only 23 percent participate in the program here, the lowest percentage among the five boroughs…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

Tougher standards mean fewer food stamp recipients in Pennsylvania, By Jan Murphy, April 15, 2013, Patriot-News: “Nearly a year ago, Gov. Tom Corbett put in place a policy that his administration said would limit government-provided food stamps to those truly in need. His administration re-introduced an asset test that had been abandoned four years before to help rein in spending at the Department of Public Welfare. The idea behind factoring in all of an applicant’s assets was to ensure that people with a certain amount of cash or other assets, such as second cars of a certain value or boats, tap those dollars first before dipping into the pool of taxpayer-funded food assistance. Previously, the department used income levels to determine eligibility…”

SNAP Eligibility and Enrollment – California

Study: Californians leave billions in federal food stamp funds unclaimed, By Beau Yarbrough, February 20, 2013, Whittier Daily News: “If every Californian eligible for federal food stamp programs signed up for them, they would generate an additional $8.3 billion in economic activity each year, according to a new study. The California Food Policy Advocates on Wednesday released its annual Program Access Index, which measures the portion of people who can receive food stamps in each of the state’s 58 counties and actually sign up for them. Only 55 percent of Californians eligible for the federal food aid program enroll, according to the study by the Oakland-based nutrition policy and advocacy organization…”