State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • Millions of kids may lose health insurance over missed deadline by Congress, By Elizabeth Chuck, November 17, 2017, NBC News: “The diagnosis was dire: Roland Williams, a St. Louis boy with a megawatt smile and a penchant for painting, had an extremely rare form of lung cancer, oncologists told his mother in May 2016. ‘They didn’t think he would make it to see his 10th birthday,’ Myra Gregory said. ‘But thankfully the insurance was covering everything at that time, so we were happy to make it to see number 10 and 11.’  Roland is covered under the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal health insurance program that provides inexpensive coverage to nearly 9 million children in low-income families…”
  • Nevada wants $11.3M for Children’s Health Insurance Program, By Jessie Bekker, November 20, 2017, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Nevada has requested an extra $11.3 million in federal funding to continue the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program while Congress decides if it will renew funding for the decades-old program…”
  • Minnesota dipping into own funds to keep kids’ health program running, By Michael Ollove, November 22, 2017, Stateline: “The state of Minnesota has run out of federal funds for its Children’s Health Insurance Program this month, requiring the state to contribute more of its own resources to keep the health plan in operation. It appears to be the first state to run out of federal funds for the program since Congress failed to meet a September deadline to reauthorize the program…”
  • End of Children’s Health Insurance Program looming in Colorado, Virginia, By Michael Ollove, November 21, 2017, Stateline: “Colorado and Virginia are preparing to send out letters to low-income families who get health services through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, notifying them that the program will end in those states in two months unless it is reauthorized by Congress before then…”

State Licensing and Employment

  • When unpaid student loan bills mean you can no longer work, By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Natalie Kitroeff, November 18, 2017, New York Times: “Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job. Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work. As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans…”
  • The disappearing right to earn a living, By Conor Friedersdorf, November 17, 2017, The Atlantic: “In most states, a person who desires to install home-entertainment systems for a living, or as a part-time gig for extra cash, faces relatively few barriers to entry. This is work teenagers routinely do for grandparents after they make a technology purchase. But in Connecticut, a home-entertainment installer is required to obtain a license from the state before serving customers. It costs applicants $185. To qualify, they must have a 12th-grade education, complete a test, and accumulate one year of apprenticeship experience in the field. A typical aspirant can expect the licensing process to delay them 575 days…”

Medicaid and Work Requirements

  • Trump administration plan to add Medicaid work requirement stirs fears, By Phil Kalewitz, November 15, 2017, Washington Post: “The Trump administration’s recent endorsement of work requirements in Medicaid and increased state flexibility is part of broader strategy to shrink the fast-growing program for the poor and advance conservative ideas that Republicans failed to get through Congress…”
  • Mississippi seeks OK for job training for some on Medicaid, Emily Wagster Pettus (AP), November 16, 2017, Clarion Ledger: “Mississippi is seeking federal permission to require job training for some able-bodied adults who receive Medicaid, and the Trump administration has signaled that is open to approving such plans…”

Medicaid and Retroactive Eligibility

  • Several states roll back ‘retroactive Medicaid,’ a buffer for the poor, By Michelle Andrews, November 14, 2017, National Public Radio: “If you’re poor, uninsured and have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there’s a chance in most states to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months. This ‘retroactive eligibility’ provides financial protection as patients await approval of their Medicaid applications. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients. But a growing number of states are rescinding this benefit…”
  • Legislator: ‘We made a mistake’ on policy changing Medicaid benefits, By Brianne Pfannenstiel, November 14, 2017, Des Moines Register: “A bipartisan group of legislators expressed concern Tuesday over a new law that will reduce coverage for thousands of new Medicaid beneficiaries in Iowa…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • LePage says he’ll block voter-approved Medicaid expansion unless legislators fund it, By Scott Thistle, November 8, 2017, Portland Press Herald: “Just hours after a Medicaid expansion was endorsed by nearly 60 percent of Maine voters, Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies vowed to delay, if not derail, the citizen-initiated law that would provide health care to as many as 70,000 low-income residents of the state…”
  • Election results invigorate Medicaid expansion hopes, By Abby Goodnough and Margot Sanger-Katz, November 8, 2017, New York Times: “The election results in Maine and Virginia have energized supporters of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in several holdout states. After months of battling Republican efforts to repeal the law, they now see political consensus shifting in their direction…”
  • Medicaid expansion takes a bite out of medical debt, By Alex Smith, November 10, 2017, National Public Radio: “As the administration and Republicans in Congress look to scale back Medicaid, many voters and state lawmakers across the country are moving to make it bigger. On Tuesday, Maine voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Advocates are looking to follow suit with ballot measures in Utah, Missouri and Idaho in 2018…”

Medicaid Enrollment

Report: Medicaid enrollments, costs begin to stabilize, By Christina A. Cassidy (AP), October 19, 2017, Washington Post: “States are seeing more stability in their Medicaid programs after experiencing a surge in enrollment and costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that one of the major pillars of former President Barack Obama’s health overhaul may be nearing its peak. At the same time, they are experiencing a high level of uncertainty as Republicans in Congress continue to advocate for a major overhaul of a program that provides health insurance to tens of millions of lower-income and disabled Americans…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • Funding disagreements put Children’s Health Insurance Program at risk, By Caroline Kelly, October 12, 2017, Dallas News: “Children’s health advocates are worried that lawmakers’ different ideas about how to fund a federal insurance program will leave nearly 1 million Texas children without coverage.  House and Senate committees each approved bills last week to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expired Sept. 30, for five years. Most states have leftover CHIP funds, but four expect to run out by December. Last week, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission estimated that the state program would run out of funding in January instead of February, in part because of demands following Hurricane Harvey…”
  • These 5 states just got a little money to continue CHIP, By Michael Ollove, October 12, 2017, Stateline: “While Congress has failed to restore funding to the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Trump administration has made $230 million in excess funds from previous years available to five states and four U.S. territories that were in danger of running out of money the soonest…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

States scramble to overcome Congress’ failure to move on CHIP, By Michael Ollove, October 6, 2017, Stateline: “By failing to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program before last week’s deadline, Congress has nudged the state of Minnesota toward a painful solution to the loss of federal funds: Unless it can find $95 million, the state said it will continue to provide full health care for certain low-income pregnant women in the program, while either reducing the number of children eligible for CHIP or scaling back their benefits.  That is the sort of agonizing choice that all states in the country will face in the coming months unless Congress acts quickly to restore federal funding to a program that is immensely popular with both parties…”

Digital Divide – Minnesota

Digital divide lingers in Minnesota, nationally, By Jeff Hargarten, September 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “Digital gaps still divide Minnesota and the nation along racial, economic and geographic lines, even as high-speed Internet becomes more widespread and indispensible to people’s lives. Nationally, about 77 percent of Americans have a high-speed internet connection, served up via broadband networks either on their home computers, tablets, phones or other devices, according to 2015 data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016

  • How health-care reform affected America, in 51 graphs, By Philip Bump, September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Last year, 8.6 percent of Americans lacked health insurance. Three years earlier, that figure was 14.5 percent, meaning that the rate dropped by 5.9 percentage points over the period that the Affordable Care Act went into effect, a 40 percent decline from the 2013 figure. In real terms, that’s about 19 million fewer people lacking health insurance, per estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau…”
  • States with the highest and lowest uninsured rates, By Mattie Quinn, September 13, 2017, Governing: “As discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue on Capitol Hill, at least one thing is certain: The law has led to a record number of people having health insurance. According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. That’s down from 13.3 percent in 2013, the year before much of the ACA took effect. Since then, every single state has seen their uninsured rate drop…”
  • Obamacare keeps shrinking the ranks of N.J.’s uninsured, Census data shows, By Disha Raychaudhuri, September 12, 2017, NJ.com: “About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest data shows that the number of uninsured N.J residents has continued to drop, a trend that policy analysts attribute to the success of the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Uninsured rate continues to drop in Indiana under Obamacare, By Maureen Groppe, September 13, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “The number of Hoosiers without health insurance fell 41 percent after the coverage expansion elements of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to new federal data. The 8.1 percent of residents who still lacked insurance last year is now lower than the national 8.6 percent rate, the Census Bureau reported. But Indiana still has a higher share of its population uninsured than do its neighboring states, which expanded their Medicaid programs before Indiana did…”
  • Young, low-income Kansans more likely to be uninsured than counterparts in other states, By Jim McLean, September 14, 2017, KCUR: “Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The uninsured rate among Kansans living below the federal poverty level has been worse than the national rate for many years. But the gap has widened in recent years, mainly because of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, said Robert St. Peter, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Kansas Health Institute…”

Prison Diversion Programs for Mothers

Breaking the  cycle of incarceration by keeping mothers and children together, By Rebecca Beitsch, September 13, 2017, Stateline: “When Stephanie Petitt was arrested for violating probation for prior drug and robbery convictions, she learned two things: She was 16 weeks pregnant, and she would probably deliver her baby while incarcerated at an Oklahoma prison. In most places, an incarcerated woman who gives birth almost immediately hands over her newborn to a social worker, who places the child with a relative or with foster parents. Petitt said she was told she would have an hour to hold her newborn. Just a few states offer alternatives that allow mother and child to stay together longer. At least eight states have so-called prison nurseries where nonviolent female offenders live with their children for a few months to several years…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Oregon removes nearly 55,000 people from Medicaid after they failed eligibility checks, By Hillary Borrud, August 31, 2017, The Oregonian: “Oregon has kicked nearly 55,000 people off its Medicaid program, after the state found they no longer qualified or failed to respond to an eligibility check…”
  • How much Health-care freedom should Trump give states?, By Mattie Quinn, September 2017, Governing: “From the onset of the Affordable Care Act, critics protested that it amounted to federal overreach and was too strict on states. That fight has besieged the two political parties for the past decade. Now, much of the federal battle over health care has coalesced around how much freedom states should have in crafting their Medicaid programs…”
  • As health care debate simmers, Mead laments lack of Medicaid expansion in Wyoming, By Seth Klamann, August 27, 2017, Casper Star-Tribune: “Gov. Matt Mead lamented the $100 million that Wyoming left on the table by choosing not to expand Medicaid, and he expressed concern for the state’s hospitals while discussing health care with the Star-Tribune recently…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • More people remain insured since Obamacare, CDC says. But many pay more out of pocket, By Daniel Chang, August 29, 2017, Miami Herald: “More Americans had health insurance during the first three months of 2017 than before the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey released Tuesday — but more have coverage with high out-of-pocket costs, which can discourage patients from visiting the doctor and filling a prescription…”
  • Bipartisan group of governors calls on Congress to shore up elements of Affordable Care Act, By Amy Goldstein, August 31, 2017, Washington Post: “A bipartisan group of governors is trying to jump-start efforts to strengthen private insurance under the Affordable Care Act, urging Congress to take prompt steps to stabilize marketplaces created by law while giving states more freedom from its rules…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away, By Melissa Etehad, August 28, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Ontario Pope has long struggled to stretch his McDonald’s paycheck to cover the basics and provide for his four young children. But even after more than nine years with the fast-food chain, the 31-year-old St. Louis man said he still lived with relatives or in motels, the fear of becoming homeless never far from his thoughts.  Pope was hopeful when the city passed an ordinance in May that raised the minimum wage from the state’s $7.70 to $10…”

Health Disparities in Appalachia

  • Report: Appalachians’ health ‘dramatically’ poorer than the US as a whole, By Kristi L. Nelson, August 24, 2017, Knoxville News Sentinel: “Heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, drug overdose, diabetes, stroke and suicide – they’re all killing Appalachians at a higher rate than the rest of the country as a whole. On Thursday, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky issued a report, ‘Health Disparities in Appalachia,’ outlining what it called ‘dramatic disparities’ in both health issues and outcomes in the 420-county Appalachian Region, compared to nationwide numbers…”
  • Death comes sooner in Appalachia. It comes much sooner in Eastern Kentucky, By Bill Estep, August 24, 2017, Lexington Herald-Leader: “The years of life Appalachian Kentucky residents lose to health maladies such as heart disease and cancer is 63 percent higher than the national average, according to a report released Thursday. The news was not good in Eastern Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia on just about every indicator of health: heart disease deaths were 17 percent higher in Appalachia than the country as a whole; cancer deaths were 27 percent higher; stroke deaths were 14 percent higher; and the rate of deaths from poisoning, which mostly means from drug overdoses, was 37 percent higher…”

SCHIP Reauthorization

Deadline looms for Congress to reauthorize insurance program for low-income kids, By Jennifer Brooks, August 22, 2017, Star Tribune: “Time is running short for Congress to fund a program that covers health care for more than 100,000 Minnesota children. When federal lawmakers return to work in September, they will have until the end of the month to hammer out the entire 2018 federal budget, avoid a government shutdown, reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from lapsing and tackle tax reform…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota minimum wage set to rise with inflation in 2018, By Erin Golden, August 17, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s minimum wage will increase next year by 15 cents to keep up with inflation, rising to $9.65 per hour for workers at many businesses across the state.  The increase, announced Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, is effective Jan. 1, 2018. It’s the result of a 2014 law that boosted the minimum wage to $9.50 and required the state to begin calculating automatic inflationary increases for each year, starting with 2018…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • In Florida, Medicaid is a matter of life and death, By Noreen Marcus, August 14, 2017, U.S. News & World Report: “The first thing Kristina Iavarone wants to buy when her son gets Medicaid is an asthma inhaler. He and his sibling lost their health insurance six months ago due to family finances. ‘They’ve been off health care for six months and six months is long enough,’ says Iavarone, a waitress in Tampa. Fortunately her son, 16, hasn’t had to go to the emergency room.  Since the teenaged Iavarones should be able to qualify for Florida KidCare, the state’s main Medicaid program for residents under 19, they shouldn’t have to wait much longer…”
  • Climbing cost of decades-old drugs threatens to break Medicaid bank, By Sydney Lupkin, August 14, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs — some generic and some still carrying brand names — proved more than two decades old…”
  • With changes approved, Nebraska will continue Medicaid program that pays premiums for some, By Martha Stoddard, August 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Federal officials have approved changes that will allow Nebraska to continue a program in which Medicaid helps pay private health insurance premiums for some people…”
  • New life for Medicaid after GOP’s health care debacle, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), August 14, 2017, Washington Post: “It may not equal Social Security and Medicare as a ‘third rail’ program that politicians touch at their own risk, yet Medicaid seems to have gotten stronger after the Republican failure to pass health care legislation…”

State Medicaid Programs – Texas, Maine

  • How Medicaid expansion could help Texas mothers, By Behrouz Zand, August 3, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate doubled. And the rate in Texas between 2012 and 2014 remained high, with approximately 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas’ rates are about seven times greater than in Canada and European countries. As a result, the Texas Legislature established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force in 2013. This 15-member task force of mostly physicians and healthcare experts set out to find out why pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed and what can be done to decrease them…”
  • Maine moves ahead with plan to charge Medicaid recipients, make them work, By Patty Wight, August 3, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone…”