Kids Count Report – Kentucky

A quarter of Kentucky kids are living in poverty, survey shows, By Deborah Yetter, November 14, 2017, Louisville Courier Journal: “One-quarter of the state’s children are living below the federal poverty level, according to a report by Kentucky Youth Advocates. Twelve percent of Kentucky children live in extreme poverty, which is below 50 percent of the poverty level. And nearly half of Kentucky’s children live in homes considered low income, or 200 percent of the poverty level, the report found…”

Foster Care Payments to Relatives – Kentucky

State working out how to pay relatives who provide foster care under recent court decision, By Deborah Yetter, October 17, 2017, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Kentucky’s top human services official said Tuesday that the state will comply with a court order to pay relatives who provide free foster care the same as they do licensed foster families. But Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cabinet is still analyzing how to apply the court decision. ‘Our legal team is studying it,’ she said in a brief interview. The court decision comes as a growing number of relatives, many of them grandparents, are caring for children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect and say the extra costs have caused them to burn through retirement savings and raise the children in poverty…”

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…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Advocates worry Medicaid patients may not be aware of changes to system, By Samantha Liss, April 16, 2017, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “On May 1, 250,000 additional Medicaid recipients in Missouri will be enrolled in a managed care system, and advocates and health policy experts say they are worried that not enough has been done to make them aware of the changes. Patients could fall through the cracks because of the confusion, say policy experts with the Missouri Foundation for Health…”
  • Wisconsin seeks to drug test some Medicaid enrollees, By David Wahlberg, April 18, 2017, Wisconsin State Journal: “Childless adults who sign up for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program would be screened for drug use and required to pay premiums under a proposal Gov. Scott Walker’s administration plans to submit next month to the federal government. The state Department of Health Services released a summary of the proposal Monday…”
  • Gov. Matt Bevin’s likely Medicaid shake-up scares Kentucky patients, By Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Before he got dental coverage, David Thompson, who works at various construction jobs, said he suffered for years with untreated dental pain and decay. ‘I’d go to work and the pain would be so excruciating that I would literally at lunch go in the parking lot and pull my own teeth,’ said Thompson, 49, who lives in South Louisville. Now, having just gained health coverage through Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Thompson is hurrying to schedule dental and eye exams — care he said he urgently needs but realizes could be eliminated under major changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin…”

Foster Care – Kentucky

Court: Kentucky must pay relatives who take in foster kids, By Deborah Yetter, February 1, 2017, Courier-Journal: “A federal appeals court has ruled Kentucky must pay relatives who serve as foster parents in the same manner it pays adults who are licensed as foster parents and paid a daily rate.  Friday’s ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals could prove a budget blow to the state’s human services agency, already straining to care for a growing number of children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect…”

Kids Count Report – Kentucky

Poverty still darkens lives of Kentucky kids, By Deborah Yetter, December 4, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Struggling to provide for themselves and their growing family, George and Katrina Ellis found themselves on the brink of homelessness several years ago when they lost their rental home and couldn’t find another they could afford.  ‘We never in a million years thought it would happen to us,’ Katrina Ellis said.  With help from the Volunteers of America, which housed them for nine months in its family shelter, the couple has recovered financially and lives in a new rental home with their five boys ages 9, 8, 7, 5 and 1.  But the ordeal was stressful for the parents, who feared they might lose their boys, and for the boys themselves, because they had to deal with the upheaval and fear of not having a permanent home…”

Rural Health Care – Nevada, Kentucky

  • Health-care ‘have-nots’: Nevada’s rural residents face fraying safety net, By Pashtana Usufzy, November 19, 2016, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Tears well up in the eyes of lifelong Tonopah resident Acacia Hathaway as she talks about last year’s closure of Nye Regional Medical Center, the only hospital within 100 miles of her home.  ‘It was … like the end of the world here,’ says the 24-year-old mother of three, including a daughter who suffers from Goltz syndrome, a rare illness that requires frequent care from medical specialists.  Now, instead of visiting the local hospital when 4-year-old Ella suffers one of her seemingly inevitable infections, Hathaway or her husband, Justin, drive to Las Vegas – three hours each way. That’s in addition to twice-monthly trips for regular appointments with her doctors — all eight of them…”
  • In depressed rural Kentucky, worries mount over Medicaid cutbacks, By Phi Galewitz, November 19, 2016, National Public Radio: “For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in Manchester, Ky., one of America’s poorest places, the Affordable Care Act was life altering.  The law allowed Kentucky to expand Medicaid in 2014 and made Lockaby – along with 440,000 other low-income state residents – newly eligible for free health care under the state-federal insurance program. Enrollment gave Lockaby her first insurance in 11 years…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • How expanding Medicaid can lower insurance premiums for all, By Margot Sanger-Katz, August 25, 2016, New York Times: “The Obama administration for years has been pleading with states to expand their Medicaid programs and offer health coverage to low-income people. Now it has a further argument in its favor: Expansion of Medicaid could lower insurance prices for everyone else.  A new study published by in-house researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services compared places that have expanded their Medicaid programs as part of Obamacare with neighboring places that have not. They found that, in 2015, insurance in the marketplace for middle-income people cost less in the places that had expanded Medicaid…”
  • Controversial parts of Medicaid plan remain, By Tom Loftus and Deborah Yetter, August 25, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration unveiled its long-awaited plan to reshape the state’s Medicaid program Wednesday, and while it restores some benefits Bevin proposed be cut two months ago, it retains the most controversial components of the governor’s approach to overhauling the federal-state health plan for low-income and disabled Kentuckians.  Taking aim at the Medicaid expansion launched by his predecessor, Democrat Steve Beshear, under the federal Affordable Care Act, Bevin, a Republican, has said he wants to create a different program that includes more cost-sharing by consumers, encourages more personal responsibility, and brings the state’s soaring costs of Medicaid under control…”

Medicaid and Dental Coverage – Kentucky

State to upset dentists: Medicaid proposal won’t hurt a bit, By Adam Beam (AP), August 2, 2016, Ledger-Enquirer: “In his mid-30s, Jonathan Hensley was unemployed and caring for some disabled family members. He needed to take care of himself, too, because his teeth hurt.  Historically in Kentucky, someone like Hensley — a single, able-bodied adult with no job — would likely not have had health insurance. But because the state expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act in 2013, Hensley and some 400,000 other Kentuckians got taxpayer-funded medical, dental and vision coverage. Hensley, now 37, got some needed fillings.  That routine dental coverage is now at risk, as Gov. Matt Bevin seeks to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system…”

Medicaid Expansion – Kentucky

Feds, advocates question Bevin health changes, By Deborah Yetter, July 26, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “A coalition of health advocacy groups has blasted Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to restructure the state Medicaid plan ‘as a giant step backward for Kentucky.’  ‘This plan threatens to undermine the health and economic gains we have made in the past two years,’ said the written comments filed last week by Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of about 200 groups and individuals.  By Aug. 1, officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services plan to submit to federal officials Bevin’s proposal to scale back the Medicaid expansion that added 440,000 low-income Kentuckians to the government health plan for the poor…”

Racial Achievement Gap – Iowa, Kentucky

  • Preschool — The solution to black achievement gap?, By Mackenzie Ryan, May 23, 2016, Des Moines Register: “It’s mid-morning, and Evevett Fugate has been up all night. After clocking out of her overnight McDonald’s shift at 6 a.m. and returning home, she readies her four children for school, making sure the oldest three catch the bus in the morning. She takes her youngest, Ovalia, to preschool class for 4-year-olds, then picks her up at 11 a.m.  Although Fugate’s overnight work allows her to attend school activities, she has enrolled Ovalia in early childhood programs since age 2 because she knows how vital is it for children to get an early jump on kindergarten, whether it be learning letters or picking up social skills…”
  • Despite advances, racial achievement gap widens, By Luba Ostashevsky, May 23, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The second-graders in Sarah Bowling’s class at Dunn Elementary were on a mathematical scavenger hunt. Students cradling clipboards moved around the room matching groupings of things and learning the concept that three groups of five things total the same as five groups of three things. In the middle of the room,  three students received individualized instruction because they had fallen short of academic expectations. While Dunn has students of all skill levels, there remains a gap in student achievement, particularly between the school’s African-American students and the rest of the students. Such gaps were a major consideration for state educational leaders more than five years ago, when Kentucky became the first state to adopt the Common Core…”

Public Housing

  • Syracuse’s public housing creates prisons of poverty; what if they could move to suburbs?, By Marnie Eisenstadt, April 14, 2016, Syracuse Post-Standard: “If David Paccone could, he would begin attacking Syracuse’s poverty crisis from outside the city. He’d build small developments of low-income family housing in DeWitt, Manlius and Fayetteville, in the hopes that some people now in Syracuse’s poorest neighborhoods would move there. But that’s not a solution in Paccone’s arsenal. As the assistant executive director of theSyracuse Housing Authority, he oversees 2,340 public housing apartments. The tenants largely are the poorest of the poor, making less than 30 percent of the average median income — less than $16,000 a year…”
  • Public housing residents could get credit boost, By Philip M. Bailey, April 9, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “The Louisville Metro Housing Authority is partnering with a nonprofit to help its public housing occupants improve their financial future, Mayor Greg Fischer announced Thursday morning.  The city has made an agreement with Credit Builders Alliance to begin a credit building program that Fischer’s office says is one of only five of its kind in the country…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Obama seeks to boost financial assistance for states’ Medicaid expansion, By Louise Radnofsky, January 14, 2016, Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration is proposing to extend a financial sweetener the federal government offers states that expand their Medicaid programs, in a bid to persuade more to do so before the president leaves office. White House officials said President Barack Obama will ask Congress to include three years of full federal funding of expansion for any state that extends eligibility for the program to most low-income residents. Officials said the proposal will be made in Mr. Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, to be released Feb. 9…”
  • Bevin’s Medicaid testing ground lies in E. Ky., By Laura Ungar and Chris Kenning, January 14, 2016, Louisville Courier-Journal: “These hardscrabble Appalachian hills so rife with need and illness have been a national testing ground for Obamacare over the past two years, but they may soon test something more fundamental – the age-old struggle to balance personal responsibility with the obligation to care for the poor. The Affordable Care Act gave thousands of residents in Eastern Kentucky, one of the nation’s most vulnerable communities, unprecedented new access to health care – mostly through expansion of taxpayer-funded Medicaid, helping make Kentucky a national model.  But it also raised fears about yet another burden on a fragile state budget and skepticism among conservatives who saw it as out of step with their political ideology…”
  • Louisiana’s new governor signs an order to expand Medicaid, By Richard Fausset and Abby Goodnough, January 12, 2016, New York Times: “On Tuesday, his second day in office, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, fulfilling a campaign promise that will expand health coverage to hundreds of thousands of people in one of the nation’s poorest states…”
  • Why is Louisiana’s Medicaid expansion so important?, By Christina Beck, January 14, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards recently signed controversial Medicaid expansion legislation into law. President Obama visited Louisiana on Thursday in hopes that Medicaid’s success there will spur other conservative states to consider the plan.  Governor Edwards (D) signed Medicaid expansion legislation on Tuesday, his first day in office. He has long been a proponent of the Medicare expansion, which he believes will help Louisiana counter its wellness woes…”

SNAP Work Requirements

  • Work requirement resumes for food stamp recipients in eight Kentucky counties, By Bill Estep, January 14, 2016, Lexington Herald-Leader: “More than 17,000 food stamp recipients in eight Kentucky counties must begin part-time work, education or volunteer activities to keep their benefits under a requirement reinstated this month. The rule had been waived since March 2009 because of the recession, which drove up the number of people needing food stamps across the country.  With the economy recovering, however, the federal government did not extend the statewide waiver. It expired Jan. 1…”
  • Food stamps will soon require 20 hours of work or classes in NC, By Colin Campbell, January 10, 2016, Charlotte Observer: “Food stamp recipients in North Carolina soon will lose benefits unless they prove they’re working, volunteering or taking classes for at least 20 hours a week. That federal requirement – which applies to adults under 50 who don’t have children – was suspended in 2008 as the recession hit and unemployment rates rose. But the exemption ended Jan. 1 for 23 mostly urban counties across the state, including Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg. While the 77 other counties are seeing a slower economic recovery and could continue the federal exemption, the state legislature acted last year to restore the work and education requirement statewide starting July 1…”
  • What do the SNAP benefits changes mean for West Virginians?, By Kara Leigh Lofton, January 13, 2016, West Virginia Public Broadcasting: “On January 1st, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit requirements changed for about 38 thousand adults in West Virginia. These individuals must now meet a work requirement of 20 hours a week or be enrolled in a work or education-related training program to continue receiving food assistance. Those who do not meet these requirements will cease to be eligible for benefits after three months…”

Kids Count Reports – Minnesota, Kentucky

  • More children of color live in poverty than whites in Minnesota, By Linda Vanderwerf, November 19, 2015, West Central Tribune: “Minnesota was named the top state in the country for child well-being in July, but that lofty ranking doesn’t tell the full story of a state experiencing wide opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color…”
  • Child poverty stubborn in Kentucky, report shows, By Deborah Yetter, November 15, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “At the Plymouth Community Renewal Center, Markham French measures child poverty through the increasing number of young adults seeking aid from the center in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood…”

Health Insurance Coverage – Kentucky

Kentucky’s newly insured worry about their health under next governor, By Amy Goldstein, November 9, 2015, Washington Post: “Amid the coal fields of eastern Kentucky, a small clinic that is part of the Big Sandy Health Care network furnishes daily proof of this state’s full embrace of the Affordable Care Act. It was here that Mindy Fleming handed a wad of tissues to Tiffany Coleman when she arrived, sleepless and frantic, with no health insurance and a daughter suffering a 103-degree fever and mysterious pain. ‘It will be all right,’ Fleming assured her, and it was. An hour later, Coleman had a WellCare card that paid for hospital tests, which found that 4-year-old Alexsis had an unusual bladder problem.  Such one-by-one life changes are the ground-level stakes ushered in by the election last week of businessman Matt Bevin as Kentucky’s next governor. The second Republican elected to the office in 48 years, he wrapped his campaign around a pledge to dismantle Kynect, the state’s response to the federal health-care law. If he follows through, the Bluegrass State would go from being perhaps the nation’s premier ACA success story to the first to undo the law’s results, razing a state insurance exchange and reversing its considerable expansion of Medicaid…”

Medicaid and Preventive Care – Kentucky

Preventive care rises among Kentucky Medicaid patients, By Laura Ungar, August 5, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “Kentuckians on Medicaid were far more likely to get cancer screenings, physicals and dental check-ups after the state expanded the government program for the poor and disabled through the Affordable Care Act, new state data shows…”

Medicaid Expansion – Kentucky

Study: Ky Medicaid expansion showing benefits, By Chris Kenning, February 13, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One year after it was enacted, Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion is benefiting patients and health care providers — and is expected to generate jobs and economic growth that will more than offset $1.1 billion in state costs through 2021, according to a state study released Thursday. The expansion, which enrolled 375,000 people in the health care program for the poor and disabled last year, is now projected to create 40,000 jobs and add $30 billion to the economy in the next six years — more than initially predicted…”

Medicaid Expansion – Kentucky

Kentucky examines Medicaid expansion’s effects, By Chris Kenning and Laura Ungar, January 26, 2015, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One year after Kentucky enacted expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, the health care program for the poor and disabled has grown to serve nearly 1.2 million residents — a quarter of Kentucky’s population. Now, consultants are finalizing a report examining the expansion’s impact on the state’s health care system — and its bottom line — in a review that advocates say will carry important implications and is being watched by other states still considering an expansion. The study, set for release by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in the coming weeks, will explore how the change has affected areas such as provider reimbursements and uncompensated care; whether it’s beginning to create more jobs or tax revenue; and its future enrollment outlook…”

Promise Zones

Programs target poverty in Obama’s 5 ‘Promise Zones’, By NPR Staff, July 6, 2014, NPR: Five areas across the country have been designated as ‘Promise Zones’ by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas. In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around. . .”