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…”

High-Poverty Schools

  • Rich school districts will benefit more than poor ones from Washington’s budget, new analysis suggests, By Neal Morton, October 31, 2017, Seattle Times: “In the days after the Washington Legislature approved a new state budget in June, school-finance experts began reading the fine print. They soon started warning that while lawmakers may have increased state spending on schools, some richer districts would get a bigger boost than many poorer ones…”
  • Report: Virginia’s high-poverty schools don’t have same opportunities for students, By Justin Mattingly, October 30, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “There are ‘striking deficiencies’ in educational opportunities for students in high-poverty Virginia schools, a new report has found. Students in high-poverty schools, or schools where at least 75 percent receive free and reduced-price lunch, have less access to core subjects like math and science, lower levels of state and local funding for instructors, who are less experienced in these schools, according to a report from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, a research organization based in Richmond that focuses on economics and policy…”

Suburban Poverty – Richmond, VA

Poverty growth in Richmond suburbs continues to outpace city’s, By Debbie Truong, Vanessa Remmers, K. Burnell Evans and Katie Demeria, March 10, 2017, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “The growth of suburban poverty continues to outpace that of the city’s, radiating from Richmond into neighboring Chesterfield and Henrico counties, fresh U.S. Census data show.  From 2000 to 2015,the brunt of poverty in the region shifted from the city into the counties — mirroring a national trend…”

Medicaid Expansion – Virginia

With Medicaid expansion blocked, McAuliffe unveils modest plan to insure more Virginians, By Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy, September 8, 2014, Washington Post: “Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who vowed in June to defy the Republican-controlled legislature and expand healthcare to 400,000 uninsured Virginians, unveiled a much more modest plan Monday after being thwarted by federal rules and a last-minute change to state budget language. McAuliffe outlined measures to provide health insurance to as many as 25,000 Virginians, just a fraction of those he had hoped to cover by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act…”

ACA and Medicaid Coverage – Minnesota, Virginia

  • Minnesota’s uninsured get public aid at historic levels, By Chris Serres, April 13, 2014, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “On a recent weekday evening, Ibrahim Hassan was pacing the narrow corridor outside a Somali mosque in south Minneapolis, buoyantly shaking hands and waving like a politician at a campaign stop. His mission: To sign up every eligible uninsured person he met for public health coverage through the state’s MNsure website. His mobile ‘office’ consisted of a foldout table, a laptop and a small sign that read, ‘We can help you’ in Somali and ‘Obama Care.’ Though much attention has focused on the March 31 deadline to buy private health insurance — and the consumer frenzy that resulted — federal health reform and the debut of MNsure have also led to a historic surge in the number of Minnesotans enrolling in public programs…”
  • Va. Republicans aren’t blinking in showdown over Medicaid expansion, By Laura Vozzela, April 13, 2014, Washington Post: “Virginia Republicans were supposed to be squirming by now. For months, their opposition to expanding Medi­caid under the Affordable Care Act has put them at odds with some traditional allies in the business world. Hospitals, the state chamber of commerce and corporate leaders have been calling, writing, visiting and buttonholing, pushing what they call ‘the business case’ for expanding coverage to thousands of uninsured under the health-care law, with the federal government promising to pay most of the cost. Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats who favor expansion have been betting on that pressure to sway Republicans, particularly in rural areas where hospitals are often the largest employer and are ­eager for the financial girding that the coverage expansion would provide…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott supports Medicaid expansion, By Tia Mitchell and Steve Bousquet, February 21, 2013, Miami Herald: “Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday he supports expanding Medicaid and funneling billions of federal dollars to Florida, a significant policy reversal that could bring health care coverage to 1 million additional Floridians. ‘While the federal government is committed to pay 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians the needed access to health care,’ Scott said at a hastily called news conference at the Governor’s Mansion. Scott, a former hospital executive, spoke with unusual directness about helping the ‘poorest and weakest’ Floridians — a stunning about-face for a small-government Republican who was one of the loudest voices in an aggressive, and ultimately unsuccessful, legal strategy to kill a law he derided as ‘Obamacare…'”
  • McDonnell urges no Medicaid expansion, By Laura Vozzella, February 21, 2013, Washington Post: “Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is urging state budget negotiators not to open the door to Medicaid expansion until reforms to the federal program have been approved and implemented. In a letter to the heads of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees, McDonnell (R) said Medicaid spending, which has grown 1,600 percent in Virginia in the past 30 years, presents a huge burden to the state even without expansion…”

Student Homelessness – Washington DC

Homeless student population to crest 2,500 in Fairfax County for first time, By T. Rees Shapiro, October 20, 2012, Washington Post: “The number of homeless students in Fairfax County public schools is likely to surpass 2,500 by the end of this school year, according to school officials, what would be a new record for one of the most affluent communities in the nation. Experts say the increase in homelessness among students, from kindergarten to high school, is related to the lingering effects of the recession. This year’s total will be nearly 10 times the number of homeless students counted in county schools just 15 years ago…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Va. to stagger food-stamp payouts to ease crowding, By Jennifer Jiggetts, July 2, 2012, Virginian-Pilot: “The first of every month, about 440,000 households in the state get their monthly allotment of food stamps – now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits – and many promptly head to their local grocery stores. Checkout lines can be much longer. Items such as Cheerios and broccoli can disappear from shelves. Some stores bring in extra staff. Only nine states do business this way. Now, that’s about to change in Virginia, as the state Department of Social Services will begin to alter the way it issues SNAP benefits in September. By October the benefits will be dispersed on the 1st, 4th, 7th and 9th of the month, based on the last digit of the recipient’s case number…”
  • Funds at risk: Once known as food stamps, SNAP provides food to poor, By Melissa Miller, July 1, 2012, Southeast Missourian: “She used to work two jobs and made good money. Now a health condition keeps her from working full-time. So a 32-year-old Cape Girardeau single mom depends on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, to help her take care of her 3-year-old son. The $342 a month the woman, who asked not to be named, receives from the SNAP program could be cut as part of a plan to save taxpayer dollars and reduce fraud under the 2012 Farm Bill approved in June by the U.S. Senate. The bill, known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, provides subsidies to farmers and funds the USDA’s nutrition assistance programs for low-income Americans…”

Medicaid and Affordable Care Act – Virginia

Medicaid decision looms for Va. in health care debate, By Michael Martz, June 17, 2012, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Nothing is more important to health care reform in Virginia than expansion of Medicaid. With an estimated 1 million Virginians uninsured, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would make up to 425,000 people in the state eligible for Medicaid health coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014. As the U.S. Supreme Court nears a decision within two weeks on the constitutionality of the 2-year-old law, Virginia is preparing for an outcome that would leave most of the act intact, even if the “individual mandate,” requiring that almost all Americans have insurance, is overturned. “If all we get out of the Affordable Care Act is the Medicaid expansion, that wouldn’t be a bad thing in terms of coverage for people,” said Deborah A. Oswalt, executive director of the Virginia Health Care Foundation. The expansion would most benefit parents who aren’t eligible now if they earn more than 24 percent of the federal poverty level. . .”

Medicaid Programs – Virginia, Illinois

  • Initiative places Medicaid recipients back home, By Elizabeth Simpson, March 25, 2012, Virginian-Pilot: “When Linda Archie moved into a Virginia Beach nursing home five years ago, she thought her days of being independent were over. Archie, 71, is paralyzed on one side of her body because of brain aneurysms. She had to get used to sharing a room, eating and sleeping according to schedule, and putting up with the assumption that ‘I wasn’t right up here,’ she said, tapping her head. That’s where they were wrong. In 2009, someone showed up at her bedside with a question: Did she want to move out? She did. ‘I felt like I had my life back,’ said Archie, who’s been living in an apartment for the past two years. It’s a question required by the government to be asked of nursing home residents at least four times a year, and it’s bolstered by a federal initiative called ‘Money Follows the Person’ that helps people on Medicaid move out of long-term care facilities…”
  • Cutting Medicaid drug spending not a simple task, By Carla K. Johnson (AP), March 25, 2012, Springfield State Journal-Register: “The search for Medicaid savings might drive some lawmakers to drugs – examining drug spending, that is. Medications for 2.7 million poor and disabled Illinoisans now cost the Medicaid program more than $1 billion annually. Medicaid covers drugs for a wide variety of illnesses, from asthma to schizophrenia, and the cost per prescription ranges from $1 for aspirin to $1,600 for an HIV drug. So, for lawmakers trying to figure out how to meet Gov. Pat Quinn’s goal of cutting the $14 billion program by $2.7 billion, it makes sense to scrutinize the big-ticket cost of the pharmaceuticals…”

Drug Testing and Assistance Programs – Virginia, Indiana

  • Welfare drug testing bill whips up debate in state legislature, By Mike Sluss, January 25, 2012, Roanoke Times: “A House of Delegates committee has advanced legislation that would require drug testing of Virginia welfare recipients, despite objections from Democrats who argued that the proposal amounts to a targeted attack on poor people. The legislation – House Bill 73 – would require local social services agencies to screen recipients in the state welfare program to determine whether they use illegal drugs. Those who refuse to comply or fail a drug test would lose Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits for one year unless they enter a drug treatment program. A recipient would have one opportunity to be reinstated to the program by complying with screening, assessment and treatment requirements…”
  • Welfare drug-testing bill passes on to vote from full House, By Maureen Hayden, January 25, 2012, News and Tribune: “Indiana lawmakers are pushing forward on legislation that would cut off cash assistance to welfare recipients who fail drug tests. In a 15-5 vote that crossed party lines, the House Committee on Ways and Means approved a bill that would require the state’s Family and Social Services Agency to test out a drug-screening program on a small scale before it was launched statewide. It now goes to the full House for a vote. The focus is narrow: The FSSA would implement the drug-screening program in three test counties for a two-year period, then report back to the legislature. The drug-screening would only apply to adults who are receiving cash payments through a program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF…”

Child Poverty – Virginia

Poverty level of children in Bristol, Va., among worst in the state, By David McGee, January 17, 2012, Bristol Herald Courier: “One out of every three city children lives below the poverty level – a figure that ranks among the worst in Virginia, a new report shows. Nearly 34 percent of children in Bristol, Va., live in a household where the median income is below $22,000, according to a report released Monday by Voices for Virginia’s Children. The city is tied with Roanoke for having the seventh highest rate statewide. The problem is acute across Southwest Virginia, where the number of children living in poverty is double the state average and significantly higher than the national figure. Released Monday, the report uses information from the 2010 census, which is the most recent data available…”

Medicaid Program – Virginia

Ineligible Medicaid recipients cost Va. millions, By Jim Nolan, October 13, 2011, Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Errors by local Department of Social Services caseworkers in enrolling ineligible Medicaid recipients are responsible for the greatest number of improper payments in Virginia’s share of the program, according to an extensive review by the legislature’s watchdog agency. It found that the state’s administration of the Medicaid program is overly complex and not automated. It also needs investments in technology and greater oversight to guarantee it is not overpaying managed-care organizations for services. Errors in enrolling ineligible recipients could have cost the state somewhere between $18 million and $263 million in fiscal 2009, according to the report – requested by lawmakers in 2010 and presented Tuesday to lawmakers by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission…”

The Low-Income and Access to Dental Care

  • Reduced state dental benefits create dire situation for patients, By Anna Gorman, September 12, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “Little surprises Nagaraj Murthy, a dentist in Compton for the past 32 years. He has seen patients who have suffered toothaches for years. Others who haven’t been to the dentist in a decade. Some who can’t chew hard food. But in the two years since California sharply reduced dental benefits for roughly 3 million Medi-Cal recipients, he and other dentists say the situation has become dire for patients who are waiting until their infections land them in an emergency room or their rotted teeth have to be immediately pulled…”
  • Lower-income Northern Virginians struggle to get dental care, report finds, By Lena H. Sun, September 7, 2011, Washington Post: “In Northern Virginia, 16 percent of lower-income adults have not gone to a dentist in more than five years, according to a report that looks at disparities in oral health in one of the most prosperous regions in the country. Among lower-income adults who have health coverage, only one-fourth have coverage that includes dental care, compared to 64 percent for higher-income adults. Those were among the key findings in a survey of oral health in Northern Virginia released Thursday. The survey was commissioned by the Northern Virginia Health Foundation, a nonprofit group that focuses on health-care safety nets…”

SNAP and Farmers Markets – Virginia

SNAP cards give low-income customers access to farmers markets, By Lindsey Nair, August 17, 2011, Roanoke Times: “Elbert “Tee” Reynolds has become the official greeter at the West End Community Market in Roanoke, where every Tuesday afternoon he swipes customers’ benefit cards and hands them wooden tokens. The cards represent Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for low-income families, while the tokens represent welcome cash for hardworking local farmers. Reynolds, a SNAP recipient who volunteers at the market, said some families who live in the surrounding neighborhoods do not have easy access to fresh, healthy food. Until recently, residents did not shop at the farmers market because they didn’t have the money…”

Car Title Lending – Virginia

First-ever data shows 25,000 car title loans worth $21M issued in last 3 months of 2010 in Va, By Dena Potter (AP), Washington Post: “Virginia car title lenders doled out nearly 25,000 loans worth more than $21 million in the last three months of 2010, according to data collected for the first time since the state started regulating the lenders. Car title lenders were unregulated in Virginia until October, when a new law took effect that limited how much the companies can charge, how much they can lend and for how long. Despite the protections, more than 3,500 borrowers missed payments for at least 60 days during those three months, and nearly 200 had their vehicles repossessed. Meanwhile, the new State Corporation Commission data shows that laws enacted in 2008 to curb the repeated use of their close cousin, payday loans, have dramatically reduced their use. Both are short-term loans that charge borrowers triple-digit interest rates. Payday loans hold a paycheck as collateral for a loan, whereas a car title loan uses a vehicle…”

Increased Need for Assistance – Virginia

In southwest Va., as more need help, aid organization has less to give, By Eli Saslow, April 16, 2011, Washington Post: “The destitute people who line up outside her office are asking for more help than ever. The organization where she works has less than ever to give. It falls on Denise Hancock to navigate the chasm in between, so she rubs her forehead, opens her office door and calls out into the waiting room. ‘Come on in,’ she says. The first client this morning at the Pulaski Community Action office is a young woman with tangled hair and smudged eyeliner, a single mother of two who lost her job at Shoney’s restaurant. ‘You’re my last resort,’ she says, handing over a piece of paper stamped, ‘Urgent: Termination Notice.’ It is an electric bill for $510.15 with full payment due immediately. ‘Can you help me?’ she asks. Hancock purses her lips, already knowing what will come next. She punches numbers into a calculator and then begins the same conversation she will have 14 more times on this day alone. ‘I’m really sorry,’ she says. ‘All we can afford to give right now is $35…'”

Household Financial Security – Virginia

Study: Many Va. households lack financial security, By Zinie Chen Sampson, March 1, 2011, Washington Post: “A significant number of households across the state lack enough income and assets to cover basic needs and unplanned expenses, and the federal poverty level inadequately measures how much it costs to be economically self-sufficient, according to a University of Virginia study. The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service report said the average two-adult, two-child family in Virginia needs about $44,000, or twice the federal poverty level, to pay for their monthly living expenses. The study shows that 24.2 percent of Virginia’s families earn below $44,000…”

Foster Care System and Program Eligibility – Virginia

Va. Tech helps with foster care, By Kafia A. Hosh, January 10, 2011, Washington Post: “In the 1990s, Fairfax County experienced a surge in the number of foster care cases, mirroring a national increase. Yet the county’s budget was stretched thin, and busy social workers and other county employees had little time to navigate a maze of external government programs from which certain clients could benefit. Facing an overwhelming case-load, the county teamed up with Virginia Tech to launch a pilot program that checked whether a child was eligible for federal and state funding. ‘It was tough for [social workers] to have these responsibilities and work with the families,’ said Melony A. Price-Rhodes, a principal investigator and the program’s director with Virginia Tech. Since then, the program, which officials say is the first and most extensive of its kind in the United States, has saved Fairfax millions of dollars. It has been a model for similar programs in Hawaii and California. The annual contract, valued at about $500,000, saved Fairfax $4.63 million in fiscal 2010, county officials said – for every $1 the county spent on the program, it got back $8…”

Uninsured Adults and Dental Care – Virginia

Uninsured Virginians may lose free dental care, By Phillip Lucas, July 6, 2010, Washington Post: “Advocates for uninsured Virginians say slow action from state and federal officials means that thousands of residents who could have received free dental care this summer will go unserved unless Congress intervenes. Virginia received authorization from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to use money from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund to provide dental care to uninsured residents. The emergency fund is a federal block grant established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and it is supposed to serve as a safety net for families looking for employment opportunities and other types of assistance. Virginia requested permission to use some of the money for dental care for uninsured adults…”