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

Category: Health

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…”

Infant Mortality – North Carolina

As NC babies die at one of the fastest rates in the country, Cooper calls for action plan, By John Murawski, August 31, 2018, News & Observer: “North Carolina has struggled with some of the nation’s worst infant mortality rates for decades, and now it’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s turn to wrestle with the stubborn public health challenge. Thirty years ago the state had plummeted to the nation’s second-worst infant mortality rate, prompting the creation of Smart Startand other government programs to reverse the trend…”

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…”

Environmental Hazards and Poor Communities

A leader in the war on poverty opens a new front: pollution, By Kendra Pierre-Louis, August 24, 2018, New York Times: “The air in the Shiloh Baptist Church was thick with the heat of human bodies. The crowd, a mix of black and white faces, filled the pews in what was ostensibly the black side of town, straining the capacity of this good-sized church. On the dais stood the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, draped in a black robe, a black vest and a cream stole emblazoned with the credo ‘Jesus was a poor man.’ Al Gore, the former vice president, sat behind him. Dr. Barber’s message to the community members in the church last week would have been largely recognizable to civil rights leaders of generations past, addressing issues of poverty and racism. But he and Mr. Gore were here in Greensboro to focus on another concern that many in the audience believed was just as insidious: pollution from North Carolina’s coal-powered electrical plants…”

Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Southern US

In rural Africa, lessons for the U.S. South about eradicating poverty-related diseases, By Lyndsey Gilpin, August 30, 2018, Montgomery Advertiser: “It’s been a decade since Dr. Adamu Keana Sallau saw the last case of guinea worm in Nigeria. But he talks about the medical breakthrough as if it happened yesterday. In the early 1990s, Sallau began traveling to remote villages throughout his home country to research nearly 700,000 cases of guinea worm, a neglected tropical disease transmitted when villagers drank stagnant water contaminated with the worm’s larvae…”

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…”

Kids Count Report – New Jersey

  • New Jersey kids better off than most in U.S., but poverty rates vary widely by county, By Nina Feldman, August 22, 2018, WHYY: “Overall, children in New Jersey are better off than other kids around the country. About 15 percent of kids in the Garden State live in poverty, while the national average is 21 percent. That’s according to the annual Kids Count report released Tuesday that rates each county in the categories of family economics, health, education, and child safety…”
  • Percentage of uninsured kids in New Jersey reaches all-time low, By Stephanie Noda, August 22, 2018, North Jersey Record: “The rate of uninsured children in New Jersey is at an ‘all-time low,’ according a new report from a children’s advocacy group.  The 2018 New Jersey Kids Count County Rankings, which is produced by the Advocates for Children of New Jersey, reported a 32 percent drop in the number of children without health insurance between 2012 and 2016, from nearly 103,000 to just over 70,000…”

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…”

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…”

Food Deserts and Food Swamps – Dallas, TX

On top of food deserts, Dallas’ Hispanic and black populations also flooded with food swamps, By Obed Manuel, August 16, 2018, Dallas Morning News: “Maria Amaya gazes at the Texas wildflowers growing in the butterfly-shaped garden at Edwin J. Kiest Elementary, fearless of the hefty mason bees buzzing by her. The scorching Texas sun shines down on her this morning. Beads of sweat roll down her forehead. Even when school’s out, Amaya and her six-year-old daughter, Sophia, work this community garden three to four days a week, tending to the herbs, Texas wildflowers and vegetables the school grows. When it’s time to harvest, Amaya takes home a small share to prepare healthy meals for her husband and three kids, something that helps her stretch the family’s single-income budget. But Amaya said she knows that she’s one of the lucky parents with the time to do this at the predominantly Hispanic school in east Dallas, an area that, on top of being identified as a food desert, is littered with what researchers have recently coined food swamps — areas where fast food options and convenience stores outnumber healthy food options…”

Disability in the US

1 in 4 U.S. adults has a disability, CDC says, By Ashley Welch, August 16, 2018, CBS News: “New government research finds 61 million U.S. adults – about 1 in 4 Americans – have a disability that impacts a major part of their life. According to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common disability type, mobility, affects 1 in 7 adults. With age, disability becomes more common, affecting approximately 2 in 5 adults age 65 and older…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

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…”

Low-Income Women’s Health Program – Texas

Texas health program served more low-income women, but improvement since funding cuts is unclear, By Jackie Wang, April 27, 2018, Dallas News: “A new report shows more people enrolled in a health program for low-income women in 2017, but it doesn’t show if the numbers are an improvement over the years before funding was cut. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission report published Thursday, Healthy Texas Women increased its total number of clients served from 70,336 in 2016 to 122,406 in 2017. The Family Planning Program increased its clients from 38,404 in 2016 to 96,990 in 2017. Overall, Texas served 29 percent more women in one year…”

Families and the Opioid Crisis

  • Keeley and the Vial, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Keeley Ashbaugh puts one hand on the arm of the couch, another on the electric fireplace, and pushes up with her thin arms so that her feet are inches off the floor. And then, because 8-year-olds don’t stay still, she swings her feet back, forward, back, forward, all the while babbling about a relative’s kitten, which is, oddly, named Puppy…”
  • Opioids swamping child welfare system, By Rich Lord, April 30, 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “First came an anonymous tip that a young girl was living in a building with no utilities. When police arrived at the boarded-up apartment on East Warrington Avenue, in Allentown, they saw no sign that anyone was inside, and no clear way in. A half-hour later on that September morning last year, though, another call reported an overdose at that address. Medics busted in, and revived Connie Hartwick, 46, from a heroin overdose, according to a police affidavit…”
  • In rural areas hit hard by opioids, a new source of hope, By Jen Fifield, April 30, 2018, Stateline: “For people addicted to opioids, the first time in detox isn’t necessarily the last. For Brian Taylor, the second time wasn’t the last, either — nor was the third, fourth or fifth. The sixth time, though, was different. It has been nearly 17 months since Taylor, 33, walked out of his last treatment at the Withdrawal Management Center in Harrington, Delaware, and he hasn’t used drugs since. If the detox center hadn’t been so accessible — just 20 miles from where he was living, in the small town of Seaford — he said he may have lost his children, his family and even his life…”