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…”

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…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • Millions of children could lose health coverage starting next month, By Haeyoun Park, December 14, 2017, New York Times: “Lawmakers have yet to renew federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, also known as CHIP, which insures nearly nine million children in low-income families. Most states will run out of money in the next few months if Congress does not act…”
  • Parents worry Congress won’t fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program, By Alison Kodjak, December 12, 2017, National Public Radio: “It’s a beautiful morning in Pittsburgh, but Ariel Haughton is stressed out. She’s worried her young children’s health insurance coverage will soon lapse.  ‘So, we’re like a low-middle-class family, right?’ she says. ‘I’m studying. My husband’s working, and our insurance right now is 12 percent of our income — just for my husband and I. And it’s not very good insurance either…'”

Health Care and Social Services

Study: States get big Medicaid savings from social services, outreach to sickest patients, By Jayne O’Donnell, December 5, 2017, USA Today: “Some states have achieved dramatic savings in health care costs for their sickest Medicaid patients by providing intensive one-on-one assistance and social services that help the patients better address their multiple, overlapping ailments…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

The CHIP program is beloved. Why is its funding in danger?, By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear, December 5, 2017, New York Times: “Laquita Gardner, a sales manager at a furniture rental store here, was happy to get a raise recently except for one problem. It lifted her income just enough to disqualify her and her two young sons from Medicaid, the free health insurance program for the poor. She was relieved to find another option was available for the boys: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, that covers nearly nine million children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other coverage…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

US Children in Foster Care

  • Number of American children in foster care increases for 4th consecutive year, By Richard Gonzales, November 30, 2017, National Public Radio: “A new government report says the number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, due largely to an uptick in substance abuse by parents. The report, issued annually by the Administration for Children and Families of the Department of Health and Human Services, shows that 437,500 children were in foster care by the end of fiscal year 2016. A year earlier the number was 427,400…”
  • More US kids in foster care; parental drug abuse a factor, By David Crary (AP), November 30, 2017, ABC News: “The number of children in the U.S. foster care system has increased for the fourth year in a row, with substance abuse by parents a major factor, according to new federal data released on Thursday. The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services counted 437,500 children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2016, up from about 427,400 a year earlier…”

Child Support and Income Withholding

Gig economy gives child support scofflaws a place to hide, By Jen Fifield, December 1, 2017, Stateline: “The rise of the gig economy and a broad shift to contract work is making it easier for people to evade paying child support, causing headaches for parents and for state officials charged with tracking down the money. About 70 percent of child support payments are collected by withholding income from paychecks. It’s possible to capture the wages of an Uber driver, Airbnb renter or a contractor — but only if state officials know that a person owing child support is earning wages that can be garnished, and only if the employer cooperates…”

Public Defense System

Public defenders fight back against budget cuts, growing caseloads, By Teresa Wiltz, November 21, 2017, Stateline: “Public defenders have complained for decades they’ve got too many cases and not enough money — or time — to do their clients justice. Now, more public defense advocates are suing states for more funding. Overwhelmed public defenders also are increasingly trying other tactics: refusing to take on new cases, raising money through crowdfunding, even trying to assign a case to a sitting governor…”

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, “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…”