Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

Welfare Reform

  • Would new limits on food stamps help or hurt children? Missouri lawmakers disagree, By Tessa Weinberg, March 14, 2018, Kansas City Star: “As Republican lawmakers push bills to tighten access to the state’s welfare programs, their critics worry one group of Missourians could be hurt the most: low-income children. A handful of bills would put greater restrictions on people receiving aid through federal welfare programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, or food stamps…”
  • Missouri House supports bill adding welfare program restrictions, By Suman Naishadham, March 15, 2018, Columbia Missourian: “House members approved new restrictions and penalties for individuals who use two welfare programs on Thursday, despite impassioned arguments the move will create unfair financial hardships for those who rely on the funding…”
  • Trump’s vow on welfare faces an uncertain future, By Glenn Thrush, March 15, 2018, New York Times: “In his State of the Union speech two months ago, President Trump vowed to end welfare as he defined it, heralding a plan to force recipients off federal housing vouchers, food assistance and Medicaid if they were not willing to do ‘a hard day’s work.’ Days before the speech, as part of the plan, several federal departments took steps to impose the stricter work requirements on able-bodied adults receiving noncash aid. The move could result in the loss of subsistence benefits for as many as four million poor, single adults over the next few years, experts say. But Mr. Trump’s effort faces an uncertain future…”

Budget Proposal and Safety Net Programs

  • Trump’s budget hits poor Americans the hardest, By Tracy Jan, Caitlin Dewey and Jeff Stein, February 12, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump proposed a budget Monday that hits the poorest Americans the hardest, slashing billions of dollars in food stamps, health insurance and federal housing subsidies while pushing legislation to institute broad work requirements for families receiving housing vouchers, expanding on moves by some states to require recipients of Medicaid and food stamps to work…”
  • Trump wants to end states’ power to make food stamps more accessible during recessions, By J.B. Wogan, February 14, 2018, Governing: “The Trump administration, which often stresses the need for states to have more flexibility, wants to give them less when it comes to food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)…”
  • New study lauds food stamps’ anti-poverty impact as Trump weighs alternative, By Steve Goldstein, February 15, 2018, MarketWatch: “As the Trump administration weighs slashing and dramatically reshaping the food-stamp program, a new study finds the program dramatically cuts the poverty rate. The Urban Institute released a study on what’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is better known as food stamps…”
  • Trump’s proposal to end heating assistance called dangerous for rural Minnesotans, seniors, By Maya Rao and Jim Spencer, February 14, 2018, Star Tribune: “In northwestern Minnesota, Corann Fladhammer has relied on $1,400 in federal assistance to heat her home as temperatures plunged in recent months. Without it, she said, it would be difficult for seniors like her to stay in their homes…”

States and Welfare Reform

  • Where the work-for-welfare movement is heading, By Jen Fifield, January 25, 2018, Stateline: “As President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress set out to impose tougher restrictions on welfare, their conservative allies across the country are trying to help them accomplish their mission, state by state. Republican governors and state legislators are moving ahead with proposals that would make it harder for people to get and keep welfare benefits and restrict what benefits they get. Measures already have been floated in about a dozen states, and, policy analysts say, what happens in states in the coming year will serve as an indicator of what’s to come nationally…”
  • Report: Poor families struggling with Kansas welfare rules, By Madeline Fox, January 25, 2018, kcur.org: “Income that doesn’t come close to the poverty line. Persistent job insecurity. Shifting schedules and irregular hours. Cumbersome barriers to state assistance meant for the neediest Kansans. A new report from the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities paints a stark picture of the Kansas welfare system. Analysts focused on two major changes to Kansas welfare eligibility rules enacted under Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration — work requirements and time limits…”
  • Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget would let welfare recipients keep more benefits while working, By Shira Schoenberg, January 25, 2018, MassLive: “A proposal in Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget aims to help welfare recipients return to work by continuing to pay them benefits even after they start a new job. ‘We’re going to make it possible for people who work to be able to continue to do so past the point that they would have been able to historically,’ Baker said Wednesday…”

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…”

Child Poverty

  • America’s child-poverty rate has hit a record low, By Annie Lowrey, October 5, 2017, The Atlantic: “The economy is nearing full employment. The stock market is at record highs. The expansion keeps continuing. Add to that one more very good piece of economic news: The child-poverty rate fell to a record low in 2016.  That finding comes from a new analysis of government and academic data by Isaac Shapiro and Danilo Trisi, both researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan, Washington-based think tank. The child-poverty rate declined to 15.6 percent in 2016, the researchers found, down from a post-recession high of 18.1 percent in 2012 and from 28.4 percent in 1967. That means that roughly 11.5 million kids were living in households below the poverty threshold last year…”
  • Brownback touts child poverty drop, but progress uneven, By Jonathan Shorman, October 2, 2017, Wichita Eagle: “The figure is eye-catching: The number of Kansas children in poverty dropped by 26 percent over the past five years. Gov. Sam Brownback touted that statistic and others this week, directly linking the decline to his welfare policies. ‘By encouraging work over reliance, we have broken the cycle of poverty for thousands of Kansans,’ Brownback said. ‘Our policies are good for Kansas families, the economy and taxpayers.’ But there’s more to the numbers than meets the eye…”

Child Poverty in Marion County, Florida

Why do 31% of Marion children live in poverty?, By Jim Ross and Joe Callahan, August 6, 2017, Ocala Star-Banner: “When the school year kicks off later this week, almost one-third of the students who file into Marion County classrooms will be coming from poverty-stricken homes. Thirty-one percent of Marion County children live in poverty. In 2007, it was just over 21 percent. Why has Marion regressed? What is being done to improve this record? How does our community address child poverty? Those are three of the questions the Star-Banner will be asking during this school year as we publish a series of stories about child poverty…”

Poverty Measurement – Wisconsin

More Wisconsin families are pulling themselves out of poverty, but help still needed, By Lisa Speckhard Pasque, August 5, 2017, Capital Times: “When school’s not in session, the River Food Pantry on the north side of Madison delivers lunch to eight nearby low-income neighborhoods.  The program, known as Madison Unites to Nourish Children at Home, gives out about 485 lunches to kids every day: a PB&J or meat and cheese sandwich, fresh fruit or applesauce, crackers or chips, and sometimes, chocolate pudding…”

Reform of Safety-Net Programs

  • GOP challenge: Reforming widely accepted ‘safety net’ programs, By Mark Turnbull, July 19, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “The failure of Senate Republicans to close ranks on health-care reform this week put on display an old challenge: How conservatives can reform social safety-net programs when there’s a growing acceptance of them – even among Republican voters…”
  • Small tweaks to existing policies could make a huge difference for poor families, By Karen Weese, July 20, 2017, Washington Post: “It wasn’t much — just five bucks apiece — but both boys’ eyes sparkled when Carol Moore told them they could spend it on anything they wanted. ‘Meet me back here in 10 minutes,’ Moore told the boys, whom she’d met a few months ago when they came to her church’s homeless shelter. As the boys set out into the aisles of Walmart, she called after them: ‘Just get something you really want, okay?’ Ten minutes later, they came back and held out their treasure. It was deodorant…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin submits request to drug test Medicaid applicants, By Scott Bauer (AP), June 7, 2017, Chicago Tribune: “Wisconsin submitted a federal request Wednesday to become the first state in the country to drug test applicants for Medicaid health benefits. Republican Gov. Scott Walker expects President Donald Trump’s administration to approve the waiver, which would also impose new requirements on able-bodied, childless adults receiving Medicaid in the state. The request comes as Walker, a one-time GOP presidential candidate, prepares for a likely re-election bid…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump wants families on food stamps to get jobs. The majority already work, By Maria Godoy and Allison Aubrey, May 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, unveiled the administration’s budget blueprint earlier this week, which calls for significant cuts to food stamps, he noted that the aim of the budget was to get people working. ‘If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,’ Mulvaney said Tuesday. But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least one person in the family working, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture…”
  • The people left behind when only the ‘deserving’ poor get help, By Annie Lowrey, May 25, 2017, The Atlantic: “In the eyes of the state of Maine, Laurie Kane is an able-bodied adult without dependents, and thus ineligible for most forms of government support. In her own eyes, it is hard to see how she is going to find housing, work, and stability without help. Kane is struggling to put her life back together amid a spell of homelessness that has lasted for three years. She has a severe anxiety condition, along with other health problems, and had suffered a panic attack on the day I met her. But she had not managed to sign up for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, because she cannot get a doctor to certify her as being disabled. That’s not because a doctor has evaluated her and found her to be fine, but because she’s been unable to get a doctor’s appointment…”

State Benefit Program Eligibility Checks

What happens when states go hunting for welfare fraud, By Jen Fifield, May 24, 2017, Stateline: “By the time Illinois decided to crack down on Medicaid fraud in 2012, state officials knew that many people enrolled in the program probably weren’t eligible. For years, caseworkers hadn’t had the time or resources to check. To catch up, the state hired a private contractor to identify people who might not be eligible for the low-income health program and to make recommendations for whose benefits should be canceled. Within about a year, Illinois had canceled benefits for nearly 150,000 people whose eligibility could not be verified — and saved an estimated $70 million…”

Wisconsin Poverty Report

UW-Madison researchers find modest drop in Wisconsin poverty rates, By Bill Glauber, May 23, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Boosted by a growth in jobs, poverty in Wisconsin dropped from 10.8% in 2014 to 9.7% in 2015 according to the Wisconsin Poverty Measure. It is the lowest poverty rate recorded since the WPM was introduced nine years ago by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute of Research on Poverty…”

State Medicaid Programs – Florida, Ohio, Indiana

  • Florida deal would reverse key part of Obama’s Medicaid expansion, By Robert Pear, April 30, 2017, New York Times: “The Trump administration appears to have scrapped one of the key tools the Obama administration used to encourage states to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The shift involves funding that the federal government provides to help hospitals defray the cost of caring for low-income people who are uninsured. Under a deal with Florida, the federal government has tentatively agreed to provide additional money for the state’s ‘low-income pool,’ in a reversal of the previous administration’s policy…”
  • Ohio GOP renews fight over Medicaid, By Jessie Balmert, May 1, 2017, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Republican lawmakers have backed off from an attempt by some to kill Gov. John Kasich’s expansion of Medicaid to lower-income Ohioans, but they are battling to rein it in. A new Ohio House proposal would force the Medicaid director to get approval for Medicaid expansion money every six months. To get the money, the director would go before the Controlling Board, a panel of six lawmakers and a Kasich appointee – the same group Kasich leveraged in 2013 when his party would not move the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare through the Legislature…”
  • How Medicaid can help you find a job, or get a ride, or land a free cellphone, By Shari Rudavsky, May 4, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “When Leona Cullen moved to Noblesville from Hawaii in December, she knew she would need health insurance in her new home. She also knew she would need a job. What she didn’t know was that an Indiana Medicaid provider could help her achieve both those goals. One month away from giving birth, Cullen, 42, visited a hospital emergency room in January, where staff helped her sign up for CareSource’s Healthy Indiana Plan. Not only did the plan cover the medical expenses associated with the birth of her daughter at the end of January, it also connected Cullen with Jessica Rockhill, a life coach who helped her organize her life…”

Drug Testing and Medicaid – Wisconsin

Wisconsin seeks to mandate drug tests for Medicaid recipients, By Astead W. Herndon, April 25, 2017, Boston Globe: “Low-income residents seeking government help in Wisconsin often slog through a frustrating, outdated bureaucracy at a run-down state building in Milwaukee, enduring a process that generates complaints about the difficulties of signing up for food assistance, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid. Now, in a first-in-the-nation experiment, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plans to raise the bar higher for people seeking Medicaid, with an expansive program of mandatory drug screening, testing, and treatment as a condition of receiving benefits…”

Drug Testing and Public Assistance Programs

  • Want Medicaid coverage? A drug test should come first, Wisconsin governor says, By Paige Winfield Cunningham, April 2, 2017, Washington Post: “Now that House Republicans have squandered their shot at reordering Medicaid, governors who want conservative changes in the health program for ­low-income Americans must get special permission from the Trump administration. Near the front of the line is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who not only supports work requirements and premium payments but also a new additional condition: to make applicants undergo a drug test if they’re suspected of substance abuse…”
  • In need of public assistance? You might need $40 and a drug test to get it., By Michael Auslen, March 13, 2017, Miami Herald: “Welfare recipients with a history of drug convictions could have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits under legislation pushed by two Tampa Bay lawmakers, a narrow rewrite of a much-maligned 2011 state law that federal judges threw out as unconstitutional…”
  • Few Maine welfare recipients tested for drugs despite state law, By Maria Villeneuve (AP), Portland Press Herald: “Republican Gov. Paul LePage has long contended that drug-testing welfare recipients will help protect taxpayers’ dollars, but only a handful have submitted to tests under the current law. His administration blames Democrats for the scant results…”

Immigrant Families and Assistance Programs

  • Deportation fears prompt immigrants to cancel food stamps, By Pam Fessler, March 28, 2017, National Public Radio: “Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration…”
  • Trump’s anti-immigrant policies are scaring eligible families away from the safety net, By Annie Lowrey, March 24, 2017, The Atlantic: “As the evening rush hour peaked, Blanca Palomeque stationed herself by the carts selling roasted corn, tamales, and ice cream at the exit to the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue subway stop in Queens. She spotted a woman pushing a baby in a pink stroller and tugging along two school-aged girls with pigtails. ‘Excuse me, good afternoon, how are you?’ Palomeque said in Spanish. ‘Do you have food stamps for your children? Here is some information.’ She pushed a flyer into the mother’s hand before rushing over to a pregnant woman to speak with her as well. Palomeque repeated this process over and over again until the trains became less crowded, urging mothers and fathers and grandparents to look into their eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid, for themselves, for their children, for a friend, for a neighbor…”

Refugee Resettlement – North Dakota

Federal funds give refugees a start, but communities offer local safety net, By Andrew Haffner, March 28, 2017, Grand Forks Herald: “When she’s not behind the counter at Al Amin Grocery in Grand Forks, Ilhaam Hassan is helping fellow members of the local Somali refugee community find their way in a new land. Hassan, a native of Somalia, came to the U.S. in 1999 when she was just a child. Now in her early 30s, Hassan’s fluency in English has opened a role for her as an interpreter with the local office of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the agency tasked with resettling refugees, many of whom are Somalis, in the state’s most populous cities: Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks. With her own passage a distant memory, Hassan now works with those refugees from Somalia who now find themselves in northeast North Dakota. Even with help from the federal government and local civic groups, she says the transition is difficult for new arrivals…”

Drug Overdose Deaths and Indigent Burial

Drugs are killing so many people in West Virginia that the state can’t keep up with the funerals, By Christopher Ingraham, March 7, 2017, Washington Post: “Deaths in West Virginia have overwhelmed a state program providing burial assistance for needy families for at least the fifth year in a row, causing the program to be nearly out of money four months before the end of the fiscal year, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). Funeral directors in West Virginia say the state’s drug overdose epidemic, the worst in the nation, is partly to blame…”