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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Day: March 26, 2010

General Assistance Medical Care – Minnesota

Pawlenty will sign health bill for poor, By Warren Wolfe and Baird Helgeson, March 24, 2010, Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune: “With just a week to spare before thousands of low-income Minnesotans were scheduled to lose state-sponsored health coverage, the House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve a compromise measure that would extend the state’s General Assistance Medical Care program (GAMC). The 121-12 vote ended weeks of political battle that brought the program to the brink of death, after a veto by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and produced intense lobbying by the state’s hospitals, Catholic bishops and advocates for the poor. The measure, which passed the Senate last week, allows GAMC to survive in a pared-down form and continue serving about 30,000 of the state’s sickest and poorest residents…”

Extension of Jobless Benefits

Unemployment benefits set to expire April 5, By Ben Pershing, March 26, 2010, Washington Post: “Unemployment benefits are set to expire for at least a week on April 5, as Congress plans to break for two weeks without agreeing on an extension of the program. Last week, the House approved a $9 billion measure containing one-month extensions of unemployment insurance, COBRA health benefits and federal flood insurance. Senate Democrats hoped to have their chamber approve the same bill Thursday. But Republicans refused, complaining that the bill is not offset with spending cuts elsewhere. They said the same thing in early March, when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) brought the chamber to a halt for five days over another extension that wasn’t offset…”

Health Reform and State Medicaid Programs

  • Healthcare reform fallout: Which states are the winners?, By Ron Scherer, March 26, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “Under the nation’s healthcare reform plan, the nation’s Medicaid system will grow as one of the main organizations to implement the goal of expanded medical coverage. But it appears that, from a financial standpoint, some states will be winners and some will be losers in this new arrangement. Here’s a look at why some states may stand to benefit. Later today, the Monitor will look at other states, which are complaining that it will cost their taxpayers a lot more money in the future. The biggest winners, state officials and Medicaid experts say, could be those states that have already taken an important step toward expanding their own Medicaid programs: covering childless adults…”
  • Healthcare reform fallout: Which states could lose financially?, By Ron Scherer, March 26, 2010, Christian Science Monitor: “Under the new healthcare reform plan, 16 million more people are expected to join state Medicaid rolls. Recognizing the costs involved, lawmakers have tried to cushion the financial impact on states. But many governors believe the expansion of Medicaid will still be too costly for them. Medicaid is a key part of the plan to expand healthcare coverage in America. From a financial standpoint, some states stand to benefit from the Medicaid provisions – and other states believe they stand to lose. Eleven states, plus the District of Columbia, could come out as winners. They’re so-called expansion states, which already cover childless adults to some extent. They could gain because the federal government will absorb an increasing amount of their obligations…”
  • S.C. Medicaid coverage to expand; cost to soar by $914 million, By John O’Connor, March 25, 2010, The State: “New federal health care legislation will cost the state of South Carolina and its taxpayers $914 million. That cost – the total of spending from July 1 to 2019 – will come as the state adds 480,000 low-income children and adults to a state health insurance program, as required by the new law, according to estimates by the state Department of Health and Human Services. The expansion represents a 4.4 percent increase in the $20.9 billion the state would have spent on Medicaid during that nine-year period, adding roughly $100 million a year to the state’s costs. With the state already facing a likely $1 billion budget shortfall next year, Republican lawmakers – who control the General Assembly – said the additional health care costs are one more reason they oppose implementing the law, which President Barack Obama signed Monday…”
  • Medicaid cost to soar, state says, By Frank Gluck, March 2010, Fort Myers News-Press: “When state Attorney General Bill McCollum announced his lawsuit this week to block new federal health care legislation, he came armed with an intimidating figure for cash-strapped Florida – more than $1 billion. That is the projected annual cost of expanding the Medicaid rolls in 2019 and thereafter, according to the state agency that oversees the insurance program. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s number, which assumes mass increases in Medicaid rolls in the coming decade, would amount to a 6 percent annual increase in the state’s current Medicaid costs…”

Food Stamp Application Process – Maryland

Social safety net to be quicker by June, By Brent Jones, March 26, 2010, Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore social service offices are planning to install an online intake system by June that could make the processing of food stamps and medical benefits applications up to 10 times faster, according to state human resource officials. The program was introduced at the city’s Hilton Heights office two months ago and is to expand to the seven other city offices in the summer. With the system, the center in West Baltimore has improved its rate of compliance with a state law governing the delivery of food stamps by more than a third, says Molly McGrath, the city’s director of social services…”