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

Month: July 2018

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • As federal Medicaid money fades, how are states funding expansion?, By Mattie Quinn, July 23, 2018, Governing: “In his last few months in office, Maine Gov. Paul LePage is taking his yearslong battle against Medicaid expansion — a central provision of President Obama’s signature health care law — to the state Supreme Court.  LePage refuses to grant lawmakers’ and voters’ wishes to make 70,000 more people (adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level) eligible for Medicaid, the nation’s government-run health insurance program. After he vetoed five expansion bills in five years, Medicaid advocates took the issue to voters, who sided with their state legislators. Still, LePage resists. The reason, he says, is money…”
  • A vote expanded Medicaid in Maine. The governor is ignoring it., By Abby Goodnough, July 24, 2018, New York Times: “Brandy Staples, a 39-year-old breast cancer survivor, had expected to become eligible for Medicaid coverage this month after Maine voters approved an expansion of the program last fall. Instead, she found herself in a courtroom here on Wednesday, watching the latest chapter unfold in a rancorous, drawn-out battle over whether she and thousands of other poor people in the state will get free government insurance after all. Ignoring the binding vote, Gov. Paul LePage has refused to expand the program, blasting it as a needless, budget-busting form of welfare. He vetoed five expansion bills before the issue made the ballot, plus a spending bill this month that provided about $60 million in funding for the first year…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Changes to food stamps could deny benefits to thousands, By Alfred Lubrano, July 23,2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “For Ceyeissha McKim, it’s all pretty simple: ‘If I lose food stamps, I don’t survive,’ said McKim, 26, a mother of three and a professional caregiver who works 25 to 30 hours a week in West Grove, Chester County. Her eligibility for food stamps could one day disappear, thanks to proposed changes in the benefits program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP…”
  • Food-stamp use is still at recession-era levels despite job gains, By Reade Pickert and Alan Bjerga, July 19. 2018, Chicago Tribune: “Judging by the number of Americans on food stamps, it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, fell to 39.6 million in April, the most recent government data show. That’s down from a record 47.8 million in 2012, but as a share of the population it’s just back to where it was as the economy emerged from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression…”
  • Why crackdown fears may keep legal immigrants from food stamps, By Teresa Wiltz, July 24, 2018, Stateline: “It’s that time of the week — food pantry day — and before the doors even open at the Spanish Catholic Center, the patrons begin queueing up, lugging roller carts and empty grocery bags, the line stretching out onto the hot sidewalk. Immigrants all, they hail from the Congo and Costa Rica, from Nicaragua and El Salvador, from Togo and Vietnam. Most are seniors. And all of them, they say, are afraid…”

Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity Report

  • Ohio report ties poverty, race and geography to lifelong success, By Laura Hancock, July 25, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio children who are not ready for kindergarten have a hard time catching up over the years, with their scores in third grade reading and eighth grade math continuing to lag, according to a study released Wednesday. The report, by the education advocacy organization Groundwork Ohio, found poverty is often tied to insufficient kindergarten readiness. It also found children who are black or who live in the 32-county Appalachian region tend to more often be poor…”
  • Report: Minority, Appalachia kids at greater risk of remaining poor for life, By Catherine Candisky and Mary Beth Lane, July 26, 2018, Canton Repository: “Young children of color or who live in rural Appalachia are more at risk of starting behind — and staying behind, well into adulthood — than their more-affluent peers elsewhere in Ohio, a new report shows. Groundwork Ohio released the Ohio Early Childhood Race & Rural Equity Report 2018 on Wednesday. Shannon Jones, executive director of the nonpartisan child-advocacy organization, said it was the most-comprehensive early childhood report in the state’s history…”

Homelessness and Housing

  • ‘It’s the new form of affordable housing’: more people are living in their cars, By Mattie Quinn, July 24, 2018, Governing: “When a homeless count was conducted in Seattle this year, the city realized that more people are living in their car than ever before and 46 percent more than the year prior. In King County, which surrounds Seattle, around 25 percent of the homeless population is reported to live in their vehicles. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Seattle…”
  • 22% surge in number of older homeless people catches L.A. officials off guard, By Gale Holland, July 19, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Andrea Colucci’s long, slow slide into homelessness began, as it does for many, with medical bills. At the age of 67, she had decided to finally transition as a transgender woman. Her insurer balked at paying her surgeon’s bills, so she put them on credit cards. Then her post-surgery housing plans fell through. A hospital put her out on the sidewalk in a paper gown…”
  • Tiny home village for homeless thriving in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, By Joe Rubino, July 27, 2018, Denver Post: “From the start, supporters have hoped Beloved Community Village would help people beyond the 13 residents who moved off Denver’s streets and into its 8-foot-by-12-foot tiny homes last July. The village, 11 homes, a bathhouse, two portable toilets and a circular common building bounded by a brightly decorated chain-link fence at the corner of 38th and Blake streets, was meant to be a pioneer. It’s a pilot project designed to demonstrate tiny homes, arranged in a community where rules are set by the residents themselves,  should be part of the solution to combating homelessness in Denver…”
  • Seattle citywide day of media coverage on homelessness, compilation of articles, July 19, 2018, Crosscut: “It’s nearly impossible to avoid the tent-homes clustered in the nooks and crannies of Seattle’s cityscape. Every night and every day, thousands of this booming city’s residents find respite in these meager shelters. Others rest their heads on park benches, bus seats and concrete. Today, Crosscut joins a host of local media organizations in dedicating our website and social channels to the stories of these people. Below we’ll be tracking all of the stories produced today, including a joint project by Crosscut, The Seattle Times, KUOW and SeattlePI.com featuring a series of in-depth stories on the changing dynamics of homelessness in Seattle…”

Debt Collection and the Poor

  • Chicago hiked the cost of vehicle city sticker violations to boost revenue. But it’s driven more low-income, black motorists into debt., By Melissa Sanchez and Elliott Ramos, July 26, 2018, ProPublica Illinois: “During negotiations for Chicago’s 2012 budget, newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then-City Clerk Susana Mendoza agreed to hike the price of what was already one of the priciest tickets vehicle owners can get in the city. Citations for not having a required vehicle sticker rose from $120 to $200. The increase, approved unanimously by the City Council, was pitched by Mendoza as an alternative to raising the price of stickers as well as generating much-needed revenue from ‘scofflaws…'”
  • IRS outsources debt collection to private firms, and the poor feel the sting, watchdog charges, By Jeff Stein, July 23, 2018, Washington Post: “Private tax collectors acting on the Internal Revenue Service’s behalf have collected tax payments from more than 5,000 poor people in the past year, payments that an in-house IRS watchdog says should have been avoided. Nina E. Olson, head of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, says a private debt collections program is not doing enough to spare people struggling to pay for food and shelter from additional drains on their income. She has also urged the IRS to stop referring to the private companies cases of individuals whose incomes put them below 250 percent of the poverty line…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

Is the war on poverty ‘a success,’ as the Trump administration proclaims?, By Alfred Lubrano, July 27, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Nearly 1 percent of all the people in poverty in the United States live in Philadelphia — one out of every 100 impoverished Americans. Simple math explains that stark story: Nationwide, around 40 million people are at or below the poverty line, $21,000 annual salary for a family of three. Here, in a city of 1.5 million people where the poverty rate is 26 percent, the highest among the country’s biggest cities, there are nearly 400,000 residents living in poverty. That’s why it surprised people in Philadelphia to hear the Trump administration declare this month: ‘Our War on Poverty is largely over and a success…’”

Teen Birth Rate – Wisconsin

Teen births decline in Wisconsin, By Shamane Mills, July 25, 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio: “Fewer Wisconsin teens are having babies. The latest data from state health officials shows the birth rate to mothers age 15-19 has dropped dramatically. Teen births have been on a downward trend across the United States. And in Wisconsin they’ve dropped by half over a span of eight years…”

State Medicaid Programs – Oklahoma, Maine, Ohio

  • Oklahoma Medicaid approved for drug pricing experiment, By Ken Miller and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), July 13, 2018, ABC News: “The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved Oklahoma’s Medicaid program for a first-in-the-nation drug pricing experiment that supporters say could save taxpayer dollars and provide patients with the most effective medications for their ailments. Under the ‘value-based purchasing’ program approved in late June, the state and a pharmaceutical company would agree to a set payment if its medication works as advertised, but only a fraction of that if the drug is not as effective as promised…”
  • Lawmakers await details on LePage’s plan for hospital tax to fund Medicaid expansion, By Kevin Miller, July 18, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “Maine’s highest court will hear arguments Wednesday over the LePage administration’s refusal to begin offering Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands of additional adults. Meanwhile, lawmakers and a representative for Maine’s hospitals say they have yet to see a formal plan from Gov. Paul LePage’s office detailing his 3-week-old proposal he made last month to pay for Medicaid expansion by increasing taxes on hospitals…”
  • Ohio Medicaid’s mental, addiction benefits achieve equality with physical care: state report, By Laura Hancock, July 18, 2018, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Once Ohio Medicaid patients with mental health or addiction problems enter the health care system, they must be treated on par as those with physical ailments. That means no extra co-pays, prior authorizations or limits on hospitalization or counseling that wouldn’t be imposed on physical health care in Medicaid. The barriers that many patients in the mental health system know too well are supposed to have been recently eliminated. According to a recent report, the Ohio Department of Medicaid is now complying with a federal law that requires equality – technically called ‘parity’ in the health care world – between benefits for mental and physical health care…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • The Trump administration has a new argument for dismantling the social safety net: It worked., By Jeff Stein and Tracy Jan, July 14, 2018, Washington Post: “Republicans for years have proclaimed the federal government’s decades-old War on Poverty a failure. ‘Americans are no better off today than they were before the War on Poverty began in 1964,’ House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) wrote in his 2016 plan to dramatically scale back the federal safety net. Now the Trump administration is pitching a new message on anti-poverty programs, saying efforts that Republicans had long condemned as ineffective have already worked. The White House in a report this week declared the War on Poverty ‘largely over and a success,’ arguing that few Americans are truly poor — only about 3 percent of the population — and that the booming economy is the best path upward for those who remain in poverty…”
  • 7,000 people fail to meet Arkansas Medicaid work requirement, By Andrew DeMillo, July 13, 2018, Associated Press: “More than 7,000 people on Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion didn’t meet a requirement that they report at least 80 hours of work in June and face the threat of losing their coverage if they fail to comply sometime before the end of this year, state officials said Friday…”

Rural Hospitals and Obstetric Care

It’s 4 A.M. The baby’s coming. But the hospital is 100 miles away., By Jack Healy, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “A few hours after the only hospital in town shut its doors forever, Kela Abernathy bolted awake at 4:30 a.m., screaming in pain. Oh God, she remembered thinking, it’s the twins. They were not due for another two months. But the contractions seizing Ms. Abernathy’s lower back early that June morning told her that her son and daughter were coming. Now. Ms. Abernathy, 21, staggered out of bed and yelled for her mother, Lynn, who had been lying awake on the living-room couch. They grabbed a few bags, scooped up Ms. Abernathy’s 2-year-old son and were soon hurtling across this poor patch of southeast Missouri in their Pontiac Bonneville, racing for help. The old hospital used to be around the corner. Now, her new doctor and hospital were nearly 100 miles away…”

Incarceration and Childhood Trauma – Wisconsin

Cycles of incarceration hit African Americans, children especially hard, By Dean Mosiman, July 14, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “When people commit certain crimes or pose an extreme danger to others, most agree, they need to be locked up. Incarceration can also concentrate the mind, forcing offenders to confront the alcohol and drug dependencies that often led to their crimes, allow them to address anger problems and further their education. But it’s also true that incarceration can compound the effect of childhood trauma, make some problems worse, separate families, and renew cycles of trauma, making everyone less safe…”

Juvenile Life Sentencing – Philadelphia, PA

Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences from those in the rest of Pennsylvania?, By Samantha Melamed, July 10, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Judge Rea Boylan called a brief recess at her courtroom in the Bucks County Criminal Justice Center so the lawyers could consult actuarial tables on the current life expectancy of an American male: 76.1 years. Then, a lawyer for Richard Mazeffa, who has been locked up 32 years for shooting his grandparents when he was a teenager, urged Boylan to give him some chance at release from prison before he reaches that age…”

Bike-Share Program – New York City

Citi Bike expands discount memberships to reach more low-income New Yorkers, By Zoe Greenberg, July 17, 2018, New York Times: “Citi Bike has long struggled to expand its bike-share program to reach more low-income New Yorkers. On Tuesday, the city announced that residents who receive food stamps can purchase a Citi Bike membership for $5 a month, a third of the standard $14.95 monthly rate. That discount has been offered since 2013 to public housing residents who signed a yearlong commitment. An annual contract, however, is no longer required for the discounted rate…”

Safety Net Programs and Work Requirements

  • Mississippi Medicaid adds back beneficiary protections in work requirement proposal, By Anna Wolfe, July 6, 2018, Mississippi Clarion Ledger: “In an attempt to avoid pushback states have received on Medicaid work requirements, Mississippi reinstated beneficiary protections into its waiver proposal. A Medicaid waiver is a state request to the federal government to deviate from various program requirements. Mississippi is one of several states that has asked the Trump administration for permission to impose work requirements on low-income, able-bodied caretakers otherwise eligible for Medicaid…”
  • As Arkansas ushers in new Trump-era Medicaid rules, thousands fear losing benefits, Reuters, July 10, 2018, CNBC: “Gregory Tyrone Bryant left his last stable job at a meatpacking factory to fight a cocaine addiction eight years ago. When he returned to the workforce a year later, his options were limited: mostly temporary jobs without healthcare benefits. Since 2014, he’s relied on medical coverage offered under Arkansas’ expanded Medicaid program for low-income households…”
  • Food stamp work requirements would force states to provide job training. Many aren’t ready., By Teresa Wiltz, July 10, 2018, Stateline: “The House version of the food-stamp-to-work program Congress is considering this week would require recipients to enroll in job training programs if they can’t find work — but in many states, those programs won’t be fully available for at least another decade. This will have a big impact on the people who depend on food stamps, some 42 million in 2017. The average beneficiary receives about $125 a month, and a family of four must have an annual income of about $25,000 or less to qualify. Many are already working…”
  • Declaring war on poverty ‘largely over,’ White House urges work requirements for aid, By Jim Tankersley and Margot Sanger-Katz, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers declared on Thursday that America’s long-running war on poverty ‘is largely over and a success,’ as it made the case for imposing new work requirements on Americans who benefit from federal safety net programs. The report contends that millions of Americans have become overly reliant on government help — and less self-sufficient — and provided data intended to support the administration’s goal of tying public benefit programs more closely to work…”

Youth Unemployment – Milwaukee

Aldermen unveil new app to help combat unemployment in Milwaukee, By Ahmed Elbenni, July 12, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “For young people searching for employment, the job hunt just got a little easier. DirectConnectMKE, a workforce development social media platform that went online Thursday morning, aims to facilitate the job search by connecting potential employees with employers and with each other…”

SNAP and Farmers Markets

Some food stamp recipients may soon lose access to farmers market benefits, By Jane Black and Leah Douglas, July 9, 2018, Washington Post: “On Saturday morning, Ludy Arnold arrived at the H Street farmers market in Northeast Washington just minutes after it opened. Arnold is 70 and lives in nearby public housing for seniors. She comes every week, and has for the past four years, to buy fruit, greens and summer tomatoes with benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. That allowance is boosted by matching dollars, provided by a nonprofit group, so that Arnold has $20 to spend each week. ‘I only have my Social Security,’ she said. ‘So this is how I get my food. I depend on it.’ But technical difficulties may put an end to Arnold’s weekly shopping here…”

Poverty in Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphians feel squeezed as U.S. economy seems to hum. That’s a poverty problem, By Alfred Lubrano, July 9, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “You’ve got your wallet on your mind, and your mind on your wallet. At least, that’s what you told us when you voted on which story idea should launch Curious Philly, our new question-and-response forum that allows you to submit questions about your community and have our journalists seek the answers. This is what you asked us to look into first: ‘Despite seeing improvement in the national economy, what we hear about the average income for Philadelphians is that it’s still down. Why is that..?'”

Low-Wage Work

  • As economy hums, fewer workers make minimum wage, By Laurent Belsie, July 6, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “It’s ‘flip flop frenzy’ week at the Dollar Tree here on Valley Street, which is celebrating another milestone. Eight months after coming on board, the manager finally has a full complement of workers in place. He has been training the final two associates this week. Starting pay: $8 an hour – 75 cents above the federal minimum wage. It’s almost impossible to find anyone in Manchester, N.H., paying the $7.25 minimum…”
  • 7 fast-food chains to end ‘no poach’ deals that lock down low-wage workers, By Rachel Abrams, July 12, 2018, New York Times: “Seven major restaurant chains, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s, agreed to drop a hiring practice that critics say may be keeping tens of thousands of fast-food workers locked in low-wage jobs…”

Extreme Poverty

India is no longer home to the largest number of poor people in the world. Nigeria is., By Joanna Slater, July 10, 2018, Washington Post: “It is a distinction that no country wants: the place with the most people living in extreme poverty. For decades, India remained stubbornly in the top spot, a reflection of its huge population and its enduring struggle against poverty. Now, new estimates indicate that Nigeria has knocked India out of that position, part of a profound shift taking place in the geography of the world’s poorest people..”