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…”

Kids Count Report – West Virginia

  • WV child well-being improved, but not enough, says advocacy group, By Lydia Nuzum, April 13, 2016, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Child well-being in West Virginia has improved in many respects in the last decade, but two big indicators of childhood health — low birth weight and poverty — have gotten worse, according to data released Wednesday. The 2015 West Virginia Kids Count Data Book, which focuses on key trends in child well-being, measures child well-being in four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community. The report includes county-by-county data in 11 core measures, including infant mortality rates, the percentage of four-year-olds enrolled in preschool, the teen birth rate and the high school dropout rate…”

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 – Rhode Island, West Virginia

  • Positive trends in Factbook on RI’s kids, By Jen Rodrigues, April 18, 2014, Warwick Beacon: “Rhode Island KIDS COUNT released its 2014 Factbook this week, celebrating 20 years of providing data in nearly 70 different areas related to children. The annual report is often used to craft legislation and policy changes affecting youth. The report – an inch-thick volume packed with charts and graphs – was released during a breakfast at the Crowne Plaza attended by about 500 policy makers and community leaders from government and the areas of education, health and human services…”
  • Report: 90% of W.Va. kids lack early educational opportunities, By Lydia Nuzum, April 16, 2014, Charleston Gazette: “More than nine out of 10 West Virginia children aren’t receiving the early childhood education that would help them excel later in life, according to a report released by one of the state’s largest child-advocacy organizations. According to the 2013 data released by West Virginia KIDS COUNT, 93 percent of children under 6 are receiving unknown or minimum-quality child care, and only one in five of those children is enrolled in preschool. West Virginia ranks 45th in the nation for the number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, despite ample evidence to suggest early education has high returns for kids down the road, according to Margie Hale, executive director of KIDS COUNT…”

States and the Affordable Care Act

  • Without Medicaid expansion, no insurance for 500,000 in N.C., By John Murawski and Karen Garloch, October 12, 2013, Charlotte News and Observer: “The last time Dee Baginski worked was 2-1/2 years ago as a manager for Walmart. Then a car wreck and cancer diagnosis slammed the door on ‘a whole life in retail management.’ Now, at age 54 and two surgeries later, Baginski finds herself at an Urban Ministries of Durham homeless shelter – uninsured and applying for disability. Her former $28,000-a-year job today seems like an unattainable dream. While Baginski’s reversal of fortune is beyond anyone’s control, the fate of her health care rests in the hands of North Carolina politicians. She is among a half-million state residents who would have been eligible for Medicaid in January had officials here opted to expand that government program for the poor and disabled…”
  • W.Va. to benefit more from ACA than most other states, By Paul J. Nyden, October 12, 2013, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “West Virginians will see more benefits from the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, than residents of almost any other state, according to a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In West Virginia 81 percent of currently uninsured residents will receive some sort of financial help in getting health insurance, either through Medicaid or through subsidies in the health insurance marketplace, the study found. That number is tied with Michigan and Kentucky for the highest in the nation…”
  • Ohio gains federal approval to expand its Medicaid program to cover state’s working poor, By Robert Higgs, October 11, 2013, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The federal government has granted Ohio authority to expand its Medicaid program to provide health coverage to the state’s working poor, an authorization that would be worth more than $1 billion to the state in its first year. The notification, received Thursday, would allow the state to increase eligibility to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, adding an estimated 275,000 Ohioans beginning Jan. 1…”
  • 146,000 Michiganders – at least – face loss of cheaper policies under new health care reform rules, By Robin Erb, October 14, 2013, Detroit Free Press: “At least 146,000 Michiganders — and possibly thousands more — with health coverage purchased directly from insurers now are learning their polices will end Dec. 31 because they don’t meet the minimum requirements of the federal health care act. Under the law, each policy must cover essential benefits in 10 categories. Instead of beefing up these policies, insurers are opting to drop them, advising consumers to consider other policies that are now available either from the insurers directly or though the Michigan Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as the state exchange.The policies that are ending were often less expensive on the individual market because they provided limited benefits and were sold to healthier consumers…”
  • Local health care changes limited so far, doctors say, By Bill Dries, October 15, 2013, Memphis Daily News: “The Oct. 1 start of enrollment in health care exchanges may be the most visible part of the Affordable Care Act so far. But changes to insurance and health care nationally already are about something other than lowering health care costs or widening access to health care and health insurance coverage…”

State Medicaid Programs – Utah, West Virginia

  • Fewer Utah doctors willing to care for Medicaid patients, By Jennifer Dobner, July 17, 2013, Salt Lake Tribune: “The number of Utah medical providers willing to treat Medicaid patients has been dropping since 2008 — even as the number of Utahns on the public health program has climbed, according to new data from state analysts. And with Utah’s Medicaid rolls expected to grow in 2014 — when penalties in the Affordable Care Act spur eligible Utahns to apply — even more patients may be relying on the dwindling number of providers…”
  • Delays threaten W.Va. Medicaid expansion, By Dave Boucher, July 16, 2013, Charleston Daily Mail: “Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin cast further doubt Monday on the prospect of West Virginia meeting the federal deadline for expanding its Medicaid program coverage under the Affordable Care Act. In a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Tomblin asked a series of questions he believes are crucial to the state meeting the deadline. He blamed federal delays for the state’s problems with rolling out its new Medicaid system and new insurance exchange…”

School Meals Programs – West Virginia

W.Va. tries to tackle childhood hunger and obesity through expanded school meals, Associated Press, April 22, 2013, Washington Post: “In West Virginia’s Mason County, children walk to the cafeteria together so they can start the day’s lessons with a side of whole grain waffles, cereal, fruit and milk. Here, among the coal mines and farms so familiar across Appalachia, the old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is taken literally as a way to tackle two problems: improving achievement in a state that ranks 47th nationally in public education, according to an annual study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and improving health in a state where federal officials say 29 percent of high schoolers are obese…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Christie says he’ll take U.S. money to expand Medicaid, By Kate Zernike, February 26, 2013, New York Times: “Gov. Chris Christie, one of the most strident Republican critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul, announced on Tuesday that he would accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program in New Jersey. The expansion, which the governor described in his annual budget address to the Legislature, would provide health insurance to 104,000 of the poorest 1.3 million residents currently living without it, though some groups say the number could be higher…”
  • Gov. Chris Christie agrees to expand Medicaid in NJ, still ‘no fan of affordable care act’, Associated Press, February 26, 2013, Washington Post: “Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday that he would expand Medicaid health insurance coverage to more low-income New Jersey adults as part of President Barack Obama’s health insurance overhaul — all while making it clear he’s ‘no fan of’ the president’s program…”
  • Medicaid expansion could save Iowa counties up to $60 million on mental health, state experts say, By Tony Leys, February 28, 2013, Des Moines Register: “Iowa counties could save up to $60 million per year in mental-health costs if the state agrees to expand its Medicaid program, state experts estimate. The estimate, which comes from within Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration, could increase pressure on the governor to accept the Medicaid expansion. Branstad, a Republican, has steadfastly resisted the idea, saying he doubts the federal government’s promise to pay nearly all the cost…”
  • W.Va. Medicaid expansion would create 6,000 jobs, activists say, By Lori Kersey, February 26, 2013, Charleston Gazette: “Expanding Medicaid in West Virginia would create about 6,200 new jobs across the state in 2016, according to a study released today by the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and Families USA…”
  • Medicaid expansion a short-term money maker for Utah, By Kirsten Stewart, February 28, 2013, Salt Lake Tribune: “As Gov. Gary Herbert awaits the results of a study predicting what it would cost Utah to expand Medicaid, lawmakers have produced their own estimate. Not only would the expansion cost Utah nothing the first three years, it would save the state $222,000 in general and education funds in 2014 and $444,000 in 2015…” 

Child Poverty – West Virginia

  • Report says high child poverty rate is obstacle, By Shay Maunz, February 19, 2013, Charleston Daily Mail: “Without its persistently high rate of child poverty, West Virginia could reduce other nagging societal problems like the rates of divorce, obesity, addiction and teen pregnancy. That’s the premise of a new report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. That report, released Tuesday, details the state’s ‘growing and persistent’ problem with child poverty — an issue that has plagued West Virginia for generations…”
  • Child poverty in W.Va. a persistent problem, report says, By Lori Kersey, February 19, 2013, Charleston Gazette: “While West Virginia has reduced the number of seniors living in poverty, child poverty is a growing problem, according to a report released by two organizations Tuesday. The state’s senior poverty rate fell from 39.2 percent in 1969 to just more than 10 percent today, the report stated. It was released by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition…”

Kids Count Report – West Virginia

  • W.Va. has 10th-highest teen birth rate in US, By Shay Maunz, February 5, 2013, Charleston Daily Mail: “West Virginia’s teen birth rate has improved over the last year, but the gap between the percentage of teen mothers in the state versus the country is bigger now than ever. For years, the number of teen births in West Virginia was trending slowly but steadily down, right along with national figures. But in 2006, the teen birth rate in West Virginia began to worsen while the national rate continued to improve. The disparity between the two became worse than ever. New data from Kids Count, a child advocacy group, shows that in 2011, West Virginia’s teen birth rate was 46.3 per 1,000 teens. That’s far worse than the national average of 37.5 for every 1,000 teens…”
  • W.Va.’s teen birth rate down, Kids Count data says, By Lori Kersey, February 5, 2013, Charleston Gazette: “Fewer West Virginia teenagers had babies in 2010 than in 2009, but the state still ranks among the 10 highest in the country for children born to teenage mothers, according to a study released to Tuesday from Kids Count West Virginia. The teen birth rate for West Virginia and the nation had been on the decrease for decades until 2006 and 2007, when both rates increased. In 2008, the national rate declined again, while West Virginia’s rate continued to increase. But the latest data shows that in 2010, West Virginia’s teen birth rate fell to 45 births per 1,000 teenage girls. That’s down from 50 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2009. Officials are hopeful, but they aren’t sure what to make of the decline…”

Foster Care Programs – Arizona, West Virginia

  • Many Arizona foster children living far from home, By Mary K. Reinhart, September 1, 2012, Arizona Republic: “A steady decline in foster homes combined with a record number of Arizona children in foster care means hundreds of kids taken from their families every month are being sent to live dozens, sometimes hundreds, of miles away from home. And nearly 1,900 of the state’s 13,500 foster children, including babies and toddlers, are living in crisis shelters and group homes because there are no family foster homes for them. Despite policies that require Arizona’s Child Protective Services to place kids as close to their homes as possible when they are removed from their parents because of suspected abuse or neglect, the state often fails to make that happen, to the detriment of the children and their families…”
  • U.S. finds W.Va. not in compliance on foster care, By Lori Kersey, September 3, 2012, Charleston Gazette: “While West Virginia officials cut child-care assistance to hundreds of low-income working parents, federal reviews show the state could do better at accessing other federal resources for children. West Virginia receives federal money to care for some children in state custody, often called Title IV-E money after the section of law that defines the program. In three out of the last four federal reviews of the state’s foster care program over a 10-year period, officials found that the state did not substantially comply with eligibility requirements to receive federal assistance. Most recently, in 2011, the state was not in compliance with eligibility requirements and paid over $200,000 back to the federal government…”

2012 Kids Count Data Book – Southern States

  • Report says 1 in 4 Kentucky children and 1 in 5 Hoosier kids are mired in child poverty, By Jessie Halladay, July 25, 2012, Louisville Courier-Journal: “One in four Kentucky children lives in poverty, and their numbers have increased starkly since 2005, according to the latest Kids Count report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Mirroring a national trend, the number of the state’s children living below the poverty line – defined in 2010 as $22,113 for a family of two adults and two children – rose 18 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the annual report, which provides an annual snapshot of child well-being. In Indiana, one in five children lives in poverty, a 29 percent increase between 2005 and 2010…”
  • Maryland ranks 10th in child well-being, national study says, By Yvonne Wenger, July 25, 2012, Baltimore Sun: “Fewer Maryland children are living in high-poverty neighborhoods than a decade ago, but the lingering economic slump has left more parents without a steady paycheck, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported Wednesday. The Baltimore-based charity ranks Maryland 10th in the nation for overall child well-being in its 2012 Kids Count Data Book, which analyzed nationwide research and statistics on children’s economic well-being, education, health, family and community…”
  • Study: More SC kids living in poverty, By Gina Smith, July 26, 2012, The State: “South Carolina ranks near the bottom – 43rd among the 50 states – in a ranking of children’s well being. That is according to the newly released Kids Count report, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that assesses the overall health of the nation’s children, including their economic health, family situation and education. The most-troubling S.C. finding is the number of children living in poverty…”
  • Kids Count report ranks W.Va. as one of worst in education, By Megan Workman, July 24, 2012, Charleston Gazette: “With nearly four out of five eighth-grade students who are not proficient in math, West Virginia received one of the worst education rankings in the country, a national report being released today shows. Nationwide, the percentage of eighth-graders who are not proficient in math decreased from 72 percent in 2005 to 66 percent in 2011, according to the report. West Virginia ranks 47th in the nation in education, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book. Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada join West Virginia as the five states ranked weakest for education…”
  • Alabama 45th of 50 for child well-being in 2012 Kids Count Data Book, By Kim Chandler, July 25, 2012, Birmingham News: “Alabama made its best showing ever in an annual ranking of child well-being, but it still came in 45th among the 50 states. The 2012 Kids Count Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed Alabama made gains in education but continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty. The report ranked Alabama 45th, the state’s best ranking since the Data Book began publication in 1990…”
  • Oklahoma lags in child well-being ranks, By Mike Averill, July 25, 2012, Tulsa World: “Despite slight improvement, Oklahoma remains near the bottom of the country for child well-being, according to a national report that ranks states using an index of 16 indicators in four categories. Oklahoma ranked 40th overall, up from last year’s 43rd spot, according to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation…”
  • Texas 44th in children’s well-being, By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, July 26, 2012, San Antonio Express-News: “Texas ranks 44th among the states when it comes to the health and well-being of its children, according to a study by a Baltimore nonprofit that advocates for at-risk kids. Using the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources, the study found the child poverty rate in Texas was higher in 2010 than the national rate of 22 percent, with 26 percent living in poverty. Texas was second from the bottom in children who lack health insurance, with an uninsured rate of 14 percent in 2010, although that’s been decreasing…”
  • Report ranks Florida behind most states on child health and education, By Margie Menzel, July 26, 2012, Daytona Beach News-Journal: “A new report Wednesday shows Florida trailing most other states in the health and education of its children — with an especially low ranking in economic well-being. The effects are harmful and could be long-term — not just for the children but for the state, advocates say. The annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Florida 44th in the economic well-being of its children, 38th in their health outcomes and 35th in their educational performance. The state ranks 38th overall. The number of Florida children living in poverty is up 28 percent from 2005 to 2010, the last year for which data was included in the study. That measurement considers such factors as whether the parents have secure employment or the ability to cover their housing costs…”

Teen Birthrates – West Virginia, Milwaukee

  • W.Va. is only state with rising teen birthrate, By Megan Workman, October 18, 2011, Charleston Gazette: “Teenage birthrates decreased in every state in the country from 2007 through 2009 except in West Virginia, which saw a 17 percent increase, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statistics from the Natality Data File in the National Vital Statistics System showed that the teenage birthrate declined 8 percent in the United States from 2007 through 2009, the most recent data available. The nation’s teen birthrate reached its lowest in 70 years, at 39.1 births per 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19, according to the CDC. West Virginia’s 15- to 19-year-old population’s birthrate has steadily been on the rise, as the 2009 rate was 49.7 births per 1,000 teenagers…”
  • Milwaukee’s teen birthrate plunges for second straight year, By Karen Herzog, October 12, 2011, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Milwaukee’s teen birthrate plunged by 5.6 births per 1,000 teens last year, keeping the city well ahead of the pace needed to reach its goal of being in line with the state rate by 2015. This is the second year in a row that Milwaukee’s rate has dropped dramatically. From 2008 to 2009, the rate fell from 46.73 births per 1,000 teens to 41.30 births per 1,000. The preliminary data released Tuesday shows a drop to 35.68 in 2010. The city counts births between ages 15 and 17…”

Food Deserts – West Virginia

  • USDA: Parts of W.Va. qualify as ‘food deserts’, By Taylor Kuykendall, July 24, 2011, Register-Herald: “West Virginia, a state that conjures up memories of wooded valleys, streams, rivers, lakes and lush fields, is also a land of desert – not a hot, dry expanse, but instead areas with extensive droughts in regard to food access. According to the USDA, a ‘food desert’ is a ‘low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.’ This is defined as communities with a poverty rate of 20 percent or higher or a median family income at or below 80 percent of the area’s median family income or a community with one-third of its population more than a mile (or 10 miles in a rural area) from a supermarket or grocery store. The effort has largely been spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama, who has promoted various healthy initiatives since moving into the White House…”
  • Michelle Obama, Wal-Mart and the ‘food desert’ problem, By Daniela Hernandez, July 22, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “Nothing’s ever as simple as we’d like it to be. A case in point: Policies that simply increase access to supermarkets may not get people to choose an apple over ice cream, a recent study reported. Changing people’s eating habits is difficult, in other words. One reason is money. Healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy, can often be pricey. For the cost of a couple of peaches, a person can get a full meal on the dollar menu at a fast-food outlet. Another problem: The produce in stores in low income neighborhoods is often of low quality.This is a hefty problem, given that 1 in every 3 children and adults is overweight or obese. Policy-makers and health-food advocates across the country are developing programs to increase access to healthful foods-and make it easier for people to buy them…”

Poverty and Mountaintop Mining – West Virginia

Appalachian poverty concentrated around mine sites, WVU study says, By Ken Ward Jr., July 23, 2011, Charleston Gazette: “Poverty in Appalachia is concentrated in the communities around mountaintop removal mines, and people living in those areas suffer greater risk of early deaths, according to a new scientific paper by a West Virginia University researcher. Michael Hendryx, an associate professor in the WVU Department of Community Medicine, compared data on poverty, mortality and mining in counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. He was trying to determine if residents near mountaintop removal mines experience greater poverty and higher death rates compared to other kinds of mining or other areas of Appalachia…”

States and Medicaid Costs

  • Obama administration looking to help states cut Medicaid costs, By Noam N. Levey, February 3, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “Facing a brewing revolt among states wrestling with massive budget shortfalls and tattering healthcare safety nets, the Obama administration is intensifying a drive to help state leaders find ways to wring savings from their Medicaid programs. Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to the nation’s 50 governors suggesting a range of cuts they can make to Medicaid, including dropping some people from the program…”
  • Fla. lawmakers could expand Medicaid privatization, By Kelli Kennedy (AP), February 2, 2011, Miami Herald: “Florida legislators seem poised to pass a bill during its coming session aimed at reducing the state’s Medicaid expenditures by expanding privatization of the program, but that may not get federal approval. The Republican Legislature wants to put more of the state’s nearly 3 million Medicaid recipients into privately managed care, expanding a 2006 pilot program implemented under former Gov. Jeb Bush that affects five counties – Broward, Duval, Baker, Clay and Nassau. Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he’d like to expand the program statewide. Scott recently talked with federal health officials about the waiver and said he hopes it’s extended without changes. Florida’s Medicaid program cost about $18 billion during the last fiscal year, with the state paying $8 billion and the federal government footing $11 billion. The cost is expected to rise to more than $20 billion during the current fiscal year…”
  • As many as 182,000 to join state Medicaid, By Ry Rivard, February 1, 2011, Charleston Daily Mail: “Three years before national health care reform’s most expensive provisions take effect, West Virginia officials are struggling to guess how many residents will suddenly be insured by the government-run Medicaid program and how much the state will owe because of it. As many as 182,000 new people could enroll in the state Medicaid program, costing the state as much as $175 million a year starting in 2017, officials from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said Monday. And as many as half of those people may already have insurance, including about 29,000 who currently pay for private insurance, according to separate estimates made by DHHR. Officials are still struggling to understand the effects of the Obama administration’s overhaul of the nation’s health care system. A tangle of administrative rules and shifting projections makes every number tentative and subject to change…”

Home Weatherization Program – West Virginia

‘Successful weatherization’ effort?, By Alison Knezevich, September 4, 2010, Charleston Gazette: “In April 2009, West Virginia received nearly $38 million in federal stimulus funds to make the homes of needy residents more energy-efficient. Eighteen months later, many are wondering why that weatherization aid never reached them. Karen Hoffman, 55, got a letter last June saying she had been approved for repairs at her mobile home in Cross Lanes. ‘No one has ever been here,’ Hoffman said. Peggy Coleman of Cedar Grove said a weatherization crew replaced her 33-year-old furnace late last year. The crew was supposed to return to install an air conditioner. ‘They just never came back,’ the 79-year-old widow said. Weatherization is meant to help cut the energy bills of low-income, disabled and elderly people. Crews can install insulation, seal ducts, and tune up or replace heating and cooling systems. The U.S. Department of Energy says families can save an average of $437 a year. The federal stimulus package pumped $5 billion into the program, but across the nation, states have failed to meet goals set when the stimulus was rolled out. They’ve blamed complex federal regulations and other challenges…”

State Medicaid Programs – Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia

  • Medicaid cuts: Can Kentucky limit the pain?, By Deborah Yetter, August 8, 2010, Louisville Courier-Journal: “State lawmakers trying to cut Medicaid costs might consider Morgan Drugs in Bedford, Trimble County’s only pharmacy. Owner and pharmacist Bob Yowler depends on business from Medicaid patients to help make ends meet. Many of his customers – especially elderly and low-income people who lack transportation – have no other good option for prescriptions and advice. And the store provides about a dozen jobs – not bad for a farm community with an unemployment rate of 14 percent, Yowler said. ‘It’s a Main Street business,’ he added. While pharmacy benefits are one of Medicaid’s most expensive programs, the services provided by Morgan Drugs show that the impact of the cuts will go well beyond the poor and disabled who receive benefits. And it provides a good example of the difficult decisions lawmakers face as they look for savings in the sprawling, $5.2 billion-a-year health plan…”
  • Medicaid growth burning budget, By Catherine Candisky, August 8, 2010, Columbus Dispatch: “The cost of Ohio’s largest safety-net program has nearly doubled in the past decade. Taxpayers spent $14.7 billion last year to provide health coverage to poor and disabled Ohioans as Medicaid – the largest and fastest growing segment of state government – now consumes about 26 percent of the state budget. ‘That is true of health care, period,’ Greg Moody, interim director of the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, said of skyrocketing costs. “If you look at a person’s paycheck or a business’ bottom line that offers coverage, health care has been this constantly growing component and the same is true for state government…”
  • Medicaid changes will hurt kids, dentists say, By Alison Knezevich, August 7, 2010, Charleston Gazette: “Fewer poor children in West Virginia will get dental care when the state changes the way it administers Medicaid later this year, a group representing dentists says. The West Virginia Dental Association believes the new set-up will burden dentists, resulting in more tax dollars being spent on administrative costs, rather than on services for needy kids, said the group’s director, Richard Stevens. The state Department of Health and Human Resources plans to contract with managed-care companies to administer benefits of patients enrolled in Medicaid, the state/federal health insurance program for the poor. These companies also are called health maintenance organizations…”

Welfare-to-Work Program – West Virginia

Welfare-to-work program not working, audit finds, By Phil Kabler, January 11, 2010, Charleston Gazette: “It’s called ‘welfare to work,’ but a legislative audit released Monday found that only about 14 percent of the state program’s recipients actually find employment before their benefits end. The study of West Virginia Works welfare benefits from 2001 to 2006 found that, at the time recipients’ cases were closed, an average of only 14 percent had found employment. Another 14 percent were unemployed but looking for work, while roughly 72 percent were unemployed and not actively seeking employment. Those figures trended downward over the five years: In 2001, nearly 31 percent of welfare recipients were employed when their cases closed. By 2006, that figure was below 6 percent…”

High School Graduation Rates – West Virginia, Indiana

  • Graduation rate worse than thought, By Ry Rivard, January 12, 2010, Charleston Daily Mail: “One of every four West Virginia high school students doesn’t graduate within four years, if ever, according to a study by the Legislative Auditor’s Office. The audit, presented Monday to lawmakers, also found a connection between large high schools and lower graduation rates. In a review of the state Department of Education, auditors recalculated the state graduation rate for 2007-2008 using a new federal standard and found the state school system is doing worse than previously reported at producing high school graduates. The education department had reported the graduation rate as about 85 percent. Under the new calculations by the auditors, it was likely about 75 percent. That rate has been flat for the past decade, so is likely still about the same…”
  • Indiana’s High school graduation rates rising, By Andy Gammill, January 8, 2010, Indianapolis Star: “The percentage of students in Indiana’s class of 2009 who graduated in four years increased nearly 4 points over the class of 2008. Marion County — where most districts have significant dropout problems — mirrored the increase. State education officials said the increase was good news and demonstrated hard work by leaders at the state and local levels but also said that too many children still are dropping out or otherwise not earning a high school diploma. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has set a goal that 90 percent of the state’s students graduate from high school in four years…”