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

Category: Economy

August 2018 US Unemployment Rate

State Medicaid Programs

  • Thousands in Arkansas lose Medicaid because of new work requirements, By Tami Luhby, September 6, 2018, CNN: “As many as 4,600 Medicaid recipients in Arkansas have lost their benefits for the rest of this year after failing to meet the state’s new work requirements. Arkansas became the first state ever to implement work requirements, after gaining approval from the Trump administration earlier this year. Under the new rules, which took effect in June, recipients must work, go to school, volunteer or search for jobs for at least 80 hours a month or be stripped of their coverage until the following year…”
  • Medicaid expansion would impact wide range of Nebraska workers, study finds, By Don Walton, September 7, 2018, Lincoln Journal Star: “Voter approval of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska would have the greatest impact on food service workers, as expected, but also cover a wide range of working Nebraskans engaged in other job activities…”
  • One-third of New Yorkers are on Medicaid, similar programs, By Joseph Spector, September 5, 2018, Democrat and Chronicle: “More than one-third of New Yorkers are now on Medicaid or other publicly funded health-care plans, a spike of 57 percent over the past decade, a new report found. The findings from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoliin a report Wednesday highlighted New Yorkers’ growing dependency on health-insurance programs run by the state and federal government amid uncertainty over the programs’ future in Washington…”

Minimum Wage Increases

Minimum wage increases in six cities working as intended, Berkeley study of food-service jobs finds, By Benjamin Romano, September 6, 2018, Seattle Times: “The minimum wage increases that started four years ago in SeaTac are spreading across the country, but economists continue to study – and disagree about – the impact of the new policies on pay and jobs. The latest look at increased wage floors in six U.S. cities, including Seattle, finds that food-service workers saw increases in pay and no widespread job losses. That reinforces the conclusions that the same group of University of California, Berkeley, researchers reached in 2017 after studying the impact just in Seattle…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Red-state voters look to expand Medicaid this fall, despite Trump’s enduring hostility to Obamacare, By Noam N. Levey, August 24, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “Even as President Trump launches new attacks on the Affordable Care Act, voters in four deep red states are poised this fall to expand access to government Medicaid coverage through the 2010 law, often called Obamacare. Nebraska last week became the fourth state to qualify a Medicaid expansion initiative for the November ballot, giving voters there the chance to do an end-run around the state’s Republican political leaders who have fought the healthcare law for years…”
  • Thousands plead with the feds to stop Bevin’s Medicaid overhaul, By Deborah Yetter, August 28, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “Some people are profoundly grateful, including this Kentuckian with pancreatic disease. ‘I am so thankful for Medicaid expansion,’ the person said in comments posted on a  federal website. ‘Without it I would be dead.’ Others express anger and fear the potential loss of health coverage from Medicaid under changes proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin that include work requirements and monthly premiums for some Kentuckians…”

Cost of Living and Basic Needs

  • Many Americans struggling to get by despite strong economy, By Sarah Skidmore (AP), August 28, 2018, Chicago Sun-Times: “Despite a strong economy, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one of their basic needs last year, including paying for food, health care, housing or utilities. That’s according to an Urban Institute survey of nearly 7,600 adults that found that the difficulties were most prevalent among adults with lower incomes or health issues. But it also revealed that people from all walks of life were running into similar hardships…”
  • 40% of Americans struggle to pay for at least one basic need like food or rent, By Quentin Fottrell, August 31, 2018, MarketWatch: “Many people still struggle to pay bills — even for something as basic as food. That’s the difficult conclusion of a new report released this week by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit policy group based in Washington, D.C., which surveyed almost 7,600 adults last December…”
  • Cost of living increasing at fastest rate in 10 years, August 10, 2018, CBS News: “Consumer prices climbed 2.9 percent in July from a year earlier, a rate of inflation that suggests Americans are earning less than a year ago despite an otherwise solid economy. The Labor Department said Friday that the consumer price index ticked up 0.2 percent in July. Annual inflation matched the 2.9 percent pace from June, which had been the highest level since February 2012. Core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy categories, rose 0.2 percent in June and 2.4 percent from a year earlier…”

Working Poor Families – Wisconsin

  • United Way report finds poverty rise even among people with jobs, By Mike Tighe, August 28, 2018, La Crosse Tribune: “If you ask ALICE whether La Crosse County households can meet their basic needs, the answer is mixed: Increasing poverty is erasing gains, according to a United Way analysis. Half of the households in La Crosse County are struggling to make ends meet. The statistics are in the second United Way ALICE Report, which United Way of Wisconsin will release today in conjunction with chapters across the state, including Great Rivers United Way based in La Crosse…”
  • Report: Rock County’s ‘working poor’ population is growing, By Neil Johnson, August 28, 2018, Janesville Gazette: “The number of families considered to be among the ‘working poor’ in Rock County has continued to march upward, according to a new United Way report on poverty. In Rock County, 42 percent of all households were either in poverty or at risk of not being able to meet financial burdens despite having people in those households who are working…”

Job Corps Program

$1.7 Billion federal job training program is ‘failing the students’, By Glenn Thrush, August 26, 2018, New York Times: “The North Texas Job Corps Center squats behind a chain-link fence here in a suburb north of Dallas, accessible only through a gate manned 24 hours a day by guards hired to keep out intruders — and to keep in the center’s 436 students. ‘It’s a little bit like prison,’ said Donnell Strange, 17, who joined the electrical apprenticeship program about six months ago after struggling in school back home in Mansfield, near Dallas. This is not what the founders of a flagship federal program with a $1.7 billion annual budget — an iconic Great Society program meant to prepare impoverished young people for the work force — had in mind…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Thousands could lose Medicaid coverage as states enforce work requirements, By Stephanie Ebbs, August 17, 2018, ABC News: “Thousands of Americans — many low-income — are at risk of losing Medicaid health care insurance coverage as states implement work requirements pushed and approved by the Trump administration…”
  • Kentucky governor loses another round in Medicaid fight, By Bruce Schreiner (AP), ABC News: “Kentucky’s Republican governor lost another round Monday in a legal fight over his efforts to revamp the state’s Medicaid program to require poor people to get a job to keep their benefits…”
  • Oklahoma officials say challenges ahead for Medicaid work requirement, By Meg Wingerter, August 22, 2018, The Oklahoman: “Matilda Williams doesn’t rely on Soonercare for her insurance, but she still decided to make the hourlong drive from Seminole on Tuesday to state her opposition to proposed work requirements. Williams, 70, was one of a handful of members of the public who attended a forum held by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority on Tuesday afternoon at Variety Care’s Lafayette clinic…”

Minimum Wage – Minnesota

Minnesota sets new minimum wage for 2019, By Don Davis, August 23, 2018, Twin Cities Pioneer Press: “The 219,000 Minnesotans paid minimum wage will get a raise Jan. 1. State officials announced Thursday that employees of large businesses will be paid at least $9.86 an hour, up from $9.65 that is required today. Those who work for smaller businesses will be paid a minimum of $8.04, compared to the current $7.87…”

Health Care for Foster Children

Foster parents often struggle to find doctors to treat the kids in their care, By Phil Galewitz, August 22, 2018, National Public Radio: “Sherri and Thomas Croom have been foster parents to 27 children — from newborns to teenagers — during the past decade. That has meant visits to dozens of doctors and dentists for issues ranging from a tonsillectomy to depression. While foster parenting has innumerable challenges, health care coverage for the children isn’t one of them. Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, picks up the tab for nearly all children in foster care and often continues to cover them if they are adopted, regardless of their parents’ income. And as a result of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, foster kids who have Medicaid when they reach 18 can keep the coverage until they turn 26…”

Hurricane Recovery – Houston, TX

Year after Harvey, poor having toughest time recovering, By Juan A. Lozano (AP), August 23, 2018, Houston Chronicle: “Shirley Paley’s life before Hurricane Harvey was already a struggle: The 61-year-old former postal worker was raising her 17-year-old autistic grandson while dealing with a workplace injury that left her legally blind, on disability and in need of three cornea transplants. Harvey’s torrential rainfall flooded Paley’s modest home near Kashmere Gardens, one of Houston’s historically African-American neighborhoods, forcing her to live out of her SUV for more than a month and triggering severe depression and anxiety in her 12-year-old granddaughter that led to several suicide attempts. Still unable to move back home and desperate to speed up the repair process, Paley has accumulated thousands of dollars in debt from high-interest payday and car title loans…”

Youth Unemployment

Youth unemployment hits a 50-year low, but there’s a catch, By Aimee Picchi, August 17, 2018, CBS News: “There’s a good news/bad news situation with youth unemployment. More young Americans — defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as people between the ages of 16 to 24 — are working this summer, pushing the unemployment rate for the group to a 52-year low. But there’s a catch: the labor force participation rate for young Americans remains below its 1989 peak…”

Medicaid Programs

  • A judge blocked a Medicaid work requirement. The White House is undeterred., By Robert Pear, August 11, 2018, New York Times: “Trump administration officials, whose push to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries was dealt a blow by a federal judge in June, say they have found a way around the ruling and will continue to allow states to put the restrictions in place…”
  • Trump’s Medicaid work requirements face new legal challenge, By Zachary Tracer and John Tozzi, August 14, 2018, Bloomberg: “Advocacy groups are mounting a new challenge to the Trump administration’s effort to limit health benefits for the poor by letting states impose work requirements. The suit, filed in federal district court for the District of Columbia Tuesday, seeks to block the U.S. Health and Human Services Department from allowing Arkansas to kick people off Medicaid if they’re not employed or looking for work…”
  • Diabetes: Medicaid expansion making meds more accessible, By Pauline Bartolone, August 13, 2018, Union Leader: “Low-income people with diabetes are better able to afford their medications and manage their disease in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a new study suggests. The Health Affairs study, released last Monday, found a roughly 40 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled for diabetes drugs in Medicaid programs of the 30 states (including Washington, D.C.) that expanded eligibility in 2014 and 2015, compared with prior years. By contrast, states that didn’t embrace the Medicaid expansion saw no notable increase…”
  • Ohio firing pharmacy middlemen that cost taxpayers millions, By Lucas Sullivan and Catherine Candisky, August 14, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “The Ohio Department of Medicaid is changing the way it pays for prescription drugs, giving the boot to all pharmacy middlemen because they are using ‘spread pricing,’ a practice that has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Medicaid officials directed the state’s five managed care plans Tuesday to terminate contracts with pharmacy benefit managers using the secretive pricing method and move to a more transparent pass-through pricing model effective Jan. 1…”

Retirement Income Inequality

Retirement incomes will become more unequal, study finds, By Annie Nova, August 7, 2018, CNBC: “If income inequality continues to grow, so too will the gap between wealthy and struggling retirees. That’s the takeaway from a new report by the Urban Institute, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., and funded by the Department of Labor, which analyzed how rising inequality will shape the landscape of American retirement…”

State Medicaid Programs – Arkansas, Ohio

  • State’s Medicaid spending falls off; $22 million drop first in officials’ memory, By Andy Davis, August 6, 2018, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Arkansas’ Medicaid spending fell by $22 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, the first annual drop in spending for the program state officials could remember. The overall decrease came despite slightly higher spending on Arkansas Works, as the expanded part of the state’s Medicaid program is known…”
  • Medicaid rule frustrates advocates for homeless, By Ginny Monk, August 9, 2018, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “Homelessness service providers said they are confused and frustrated when it comes to filing for exemptions and reporting hours worked to the state so their homeless clients can keep their health insurance. At Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Arkansas Homeless Coalition, advocates said a difficult-to-maneuver filing system for good-cause exemptions related to homelessness, slow responses to phone calls for help and a website that isn’t always functional made the reporting process challenging…”
  • States question costs of middlemen that manage Medicaid drug benefits, By Alison Kodjak, August 8, 2018, National Public Radio: “Several states are questioning the cost of using pharmacy middlemen to manage their prescription drug programs in a movement that could shake up the complex system that manages how pharmaceuticals are priced and paid for…”

Employment of Less-Educated Workers

Workers hardest hit by recession are joining in recovery, By Nelson D. Schwartz and Ben Casselman, August 3, 2018, New York Times: “The least educated American workers, who took the hardest hit in the Great Recession, were also among the slowest to harvest the gains of the recovery. Now they are a striking symbol of a strong economy…”

Financial Literacy

It’s hard to manage your credit when you’ve never heard of ‘interest’, By Marsha Mercer, August 7, 2018, Stateline: “When Kentucky state Treasurer Allison Ball and a colleague talked with high school seniors last year about credit cards and other pieces of the personal finance puzzle, something wasn’t right. “We kept using the word ‘interest’ and we kept getting blank stares,” Ball recalled. Finally, she asked the students who knew what interest is. No one did…”

July 2018 US Unemployment Rate

Medicaid Programs

  • Red states may be ready to expand Medicaid — in exchange for work, By Christine Vestal, July 30, 2018, Stateline: “Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin says he doesn’t want more able-bodied poor people to get Medicaid in his state unless a portion of them are required to work. And when Republicans in Virginia agreed to expand Medicaid this year, they also said recipients who are able would have to work. In several states this year, the march to bring health care benefits to more low-income residents came with the insistence that able-bodied adults — who are just a fraction of all Medicaid recipients — put in hours of work or volunteer time each month to retain the assistance…”
  • Trump spurns Medicaid proposal after furious White House debate, By Robert Pear, July 30, 2018, New York Times: “Hoping to head off a full expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, some senior officials in the Trump administration and Republican governors have been pushing hard for a smaller expansion to satisfy a growing political demand in their states. But President Trump decided on Friday to shut down the debate until after the midterm elections, administration officials said…”
  • Puerto Rico’s wounded Medicaid program faces even deeper cuts, By Sarah Varney and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, August 1, 2018, National Public Radio: “Blue tarps still dot rooftops, homes lack electricity needed to refrigerate medicines, and clinics chip away at debts incurred from running generators. Yet despite these residual effects from last year’s devastating hurricanes, Puerto Rico is moving ahead with major cuts to its health care safety net that will affect more than a million of its poorest residents…”
  • Major changes whipsaw Kentucky Medicaid in recent weeks, By Deborah Yetter, July 27, 2018, Louisville Courier Journal: “Kentucky’s Medicaid program has undergone several major changes in recent weeks, confusing health providers and some of the 1.4 million Kentuckians covered by the government health plan. Here’s a look at the major developments…”