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The Take-Up of Medicaid and Food Stamps by Welfare Leavers: The Case of Wisconsin

  • Maria Cancian; Robert Haveman; Thomas Kaplan; Daniel Meyer; Ingrid Rothe; Barbara Wolfe with Sandra Barone
  • June 2001
  • SR79
  • Link to sr79 (PDF)

Subsidized medical insurance and food purchases through the Medicaid and Food Stamp programs potentially improve the health and economic well-being of low-income people, but only if eligible participants receive program benefits. Reports of decreases in Food Stamp and Medicaid participation rates following passage of welfare reform legislation in 1996 raised concerns about the health care coverage and nutritional status of former recipients of cash welfare. This paper describes Food Stamp and Medicaid participation for two cohorts leaving welfare in Wisconsin: those who left cash welfare in 1995 (under early welfare reform) and those who left welfare 2 years later. The paper estimates initial take-up rates (that is, participation rates among those eligible immediately after exit from cash welfare) of 60 percent for Food Stamps and 80 percent for Medicaid among the 1995 leavers. Initial take-up rates were greater for those who left in 1997. Take-up rates among leavers declined steadily as time elapsed after their exit from cash welfare.


Food & Nutrition, Food Assistance, Food Insecurity, Health, Health General, WI Administrative Data Core


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