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

Category: Politics

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…”

Immigrants and Public Benefit Programs

  • How Trump’s plan for immigrants on welfare could hurt a million New Yorkers, By Liz Robbins, August 13, 2018, New York Times: “Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards…”
  • As Trump considers penalties, Seattle-area immigrants turn down public benefits they’re entitled to claim, By Nina Shapiro, August 12, 2018, Seattle Times: “A hotel housekeeper with a working adult son, Hudith received food stamps that weren’t worth a lot — about $50 a month. But she was nervous. Though she was entitled to food stamps as a legal permanent resident from Mexico, and her three children were all born in the U.S., she heard from a friend that getting the benefit could be counted against her if she applied for citizenship. And she was planning to do just that. So she disenrolled…”

Public Assistance Programs

  • The outsize hold of the word ‘welfare’ on the public imagination, By Emily Badger, August 6, 2018, New York Times: “The federal program known as welfare delivers cash assistance to less than 1 percent of the United States population. This is far smaller than the share of those aided by food stamps, or by other government support like disability benefits, unemployment insurance, college grants and medical benefits. But none of those other social programs have captured the public imagination or pervaded American politics as thoroughly as welfare, a piece of the safety net that helps about 2.5 million people. Its outsize influence has remained — and could soon become larger — even as the program itself has shrunk to its smallest size…”
  • What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits, By Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina, August 9, 2018, Miami Herald: “Reports that the Trump administration is preparing to deny U.S. citizenship to immigrants who receive any sort of income-based public assistance have unleashed a wave of concern in South Florida. But the plan has not been approved yet, the published reports are confusing and it could be months before any change related to public benefits and immigration could be approved and take effect…”
  • Plan to punish immigrants for using welfare could boost G.O.P. candidates, By Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, August 7, 2018, New York Times: “The Trump administration is advancing a plan to punish legal immigrants for accepting food stamps, public housing and other government benefits they are entitled to — a strategy that appeals to conservatives and could help to galvanize Republican voters before the midterm elections…”
  • Sacramento welfare investigators track drivers to find fraud. Privacy group raises red flags, By Kellen Browning, August 10, 2018, Sacramento Bee: “Police in recent years have tapped into a vast database of license plate images to track drivers and solve crimes. Few people know, however, that Sacramento County welfare fraud investigators have been using that same data since 2016…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Trump calls on Congress to attach work requirements to food stamps, By Caitlin Dewey, August 2, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Thursday expressed support for House Republicans’ plan to tighten food-stamp work requirements, pressing Senate Republicans to adopt the provision even though it would probably doom a major bill’s chances of passing their chamber…”
  • New Yorkers can still use food stamps at farmers markets under new agreement, By Bethany Bump, July 303, 2018, Albany Times Union: “Nearly 3 million New Yorkers who receive food stamps can continue to use them at farmers markets around the state following a new agreement the state reached with a software technology company…”

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…”

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…’”

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…”

Voting Rights and Registration

  • Automatic voter registration goes beyond the DMV, By J.B. Wogan, April 17, 2018, Governing: “New Jersey on Tuesday became the 12th state, plus the District of Columbia, to enact an automatic voter registration law, which is intended to increase participation in elections. While automatic voter registration (AVR) is itself a new trend — first adopted in Oregon in 2015 — New Jersey’s law represents a new twist: It allows the practice to extend beyond the DMV…”
  • This New Jersey law is blocking African Americans from voting in shocking numbers, By Samantha Melamed, April 12, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Thirty years in prison can teach you patience. That’s a good thing for Ronald Pierce, who was paroled last year, as he’s likely in for a long fight.  Pierce, a 59-year-old North Jersey man, accepts that he’s on parole and will be for the rest of his life. But one thing he can’t accept: He’s also being denied the right to vote…”
  • New York Governor to restore voting rights to parolees, By Rebecca Beitsch, April 18, 2018, Stateline: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans Wednesday to restore voting rights to 35,000 people in his state on parole. State law currently prohibits people from voting if they are serving parole for a felony conviction…”

School Choice

  • Battle over private school choice playing out at Texas polls, By Julie Chang, March 15, 2018, Austin American-Statesman: “The battle over whether public money should be spent on private school tuition played out at polls across the state this month and will continue in runoff contests on May 22. Public school teachers, who launched a noteworthy get-out-the-vote campaign, and supporters of so-called private school choice ended the March 2 Texas House primaries in a draw…”
  • Black students have longer commutes under school choice, By J. Brian Charles, March 15, 2018, Governing: “Black children often travel farther to school and face longer commute times than their white and Latino classmates, according to a new report from the Urban Institute. In cities including Denver, New York City and Washington, D.C., black children are more likely to leave their own neighborhood in search of a high-quality school, according to the study, which examined urban school districts that operate school choice programs…”
  • Inside the virtual schools lobby: ‘I trust parents’, By Anya Kamenetz, February 13, 2018, National Public Radio: “A free day at the aquarium! For Marcey Morse, a mother of two, it sounded pretty good. It was the fall of 2016, and Morse had received an email offering tickets, along with a warning about her children’s education. At that time, Morse’s two kids were enrolled in an online, or ‘virtual,’ school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, run by a company called K12 Inc. About 275,000 students around the country attend these online public charter schools, run by for-profit companies, at taxpayers’ expense…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s unprecedented welfare reform could inspire conservative changes elsewhere, By J. B. Wogan, February 27, 2018, Governing: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is poised to sign a sweeping package of bills aimed at reducing welfare rolls by expanding work requirements and adding other restrictions. The proposals include several changes that no other state has tried and would require approval from the federal government…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin

Assembly Republicans pass full slate of Gov. Scott Walker’s welfare limits, By Jason Stein, February 15, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday approved Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed welfare limits and sought federal help to cover more of the nearly $90 million in costs from the proposals…”

Welfare Reform – Wisconsin, Maine

  • Scott Walker calls special session on bills making changes to welfare programs, By Molly Beck, January 18, 2018, Wisconsin State Journal: “Gov. Scott Walker called on lawmakers Thursday to take up a slate of bills that would make sweeping changes to the state’s welfare programs — including requiring parents to work in order to receive food stamps and requiring residents in subsidized housing to be screened for drug use…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pushes welfare overhaul to include work requirement for parents on food stamps, By Jason Stein, January 18, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “With unemployment low and a tough election looming, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Thursday for a special legislative session to overhaul the state’s welfare programs. The GOP governor is pushing for a series of welfare bills, including requiring able-bodied parents of children on food stamps to work or get training to receive more than three months of benefits and increasing the existing work requirement for all able-bodied adults from 20 hours a week to 30…”
  • LePage says Trump administration again blocks ban on food stamps for junk food, By Eric Russell, January 19, 2018, Portland Press Herald: “For the second time in less than two years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a request by Maine Gov. Paul LePage to ban food stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugary drinks and candy. His spokeswoman, Julie Rabinowitz, said Friday that the administration would ‘revise our waiver request and resubmit it,’ but she did not offer a timeline…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Brownback cut welfare in Kansas. Is Congress about to follow?, By Jonathan Shorman, January 14, 2018, Wichita Eagle: “Welfare restrictions and work requirements have knocked tens of thousands of Kansans off assistance over the past few years. Many get kicked out for not working, but only a small percentage leave because they have a job, the latest federal data reveals. Republicans in Congress have said they want to tackle welfare reform. Some, including Rep. Ron Estes of Wichita, say Washington, D.C. should look to Kansas as an example, but it’s unclear whether program cuts in Kansas left recipients better off…”

Minimum Wage

After nine years of no change, is the federal minimum wage irrelevant?, By Jana Kasperkevic, January 15, 2018, Marketplace: “If President Donald Trump does not increase the federal minimum wage within the next two years, it will be more than ten years since its last increase — the longest that the federal minimum wage has remained unchanged since it was enacted. With the federal minimum wage stuck at $7.25, states and cities across the U.S. have increased their local minimum wages instead — some going as far as more than doubling the amount to $15 an hour…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

The CHIP program is beloved. Why is its funding in danger?, By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear, December 5, 2017, New York Times: “Laquita Gardner, a sales manager at a furniture rental store here, was happy to get a raise recently except for one problem. It lifted her income just enough to disqualify her and her two young sons from Medicaid, the free health insurance program for the poor. She was relieved to find another option was available for the boys: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, that covers nearly nine million children whose parents earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford other coverage…”

State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Payday Lending – Ohio

Curbs on payday loans a tough sell to Ohio lawmakers, By Jim Siegel, October 17, 2017, Columbus Dispatch: “When Ohio lawmakers pass a law that doesn’t come close to working as planned, they often fix it. Not so much with payday lending regulations approved nine years ago. Short-term lenders in Ohio today are charging the highest rates in the nation, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. A Republican lawmaker who wants to change that says he’s getting pushback from GOP colleagues who control the legislature…”

Minimum Wage – St. Louis, MO

St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away, By Melissa Etehad, August 28, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Ontario Pope has long struggled to stretch his McDonald’s paycheck to cover the basics and provide for his four young children. But even after more than nine years with the fast-food chain, the 31-year-old St. Louis man said he still lived with relatives or in motels, the fear of becoming homeless never far from his thoughts.  Pope was hopeful when the city passed an ordinance in May that raised the minimum wage from the state’s $7.70 to $10…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • In Florida, Medicaid is a matter of life and death, By Noreen Marcus, August 14, 2017, U.S. News & World Report: “The first thing Kristina Iavarone wants to buy when her son gets Medicaid is an asthma inhaler. He and his sibling lost their health insurance six months ago due to family finances. ‘They’ve been off health care for six months and six months is long enough,’ says Iavarone, a waitress in Tampa. Fortunately her son, 16, hasn’t had to go to the emergency room.  Since the teenaged Iavarones should be able to qualify for Florida KidCare, the state’s main Medicaid program for residents under 19, they shouldn’t have to wait much longer…”
  • Climbing cost of decades-old drugs threatens to break Medicaid bank, By Sydney Lupkin, August 14, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs — some generic and some still carrying brand names — proved more than two decades old…”
  • With changes approved, Nebraska will continue Medicaid program that pays premiums for some, By Martha Stoddard, August 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Federal officials have approved changes that will allow Nebraska to continue a program in which Medicaid helps pay private health insurance premiums for some people…”
  • New life for Medicaid after GOP’s health care debacle, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), August 14, 2017, Washington Post: “It may not equal Social Security and Medicare as a ‘third rail’ program that politicians touch at their own risk, yet Medicaid seems to have gotten stronger after the Republican failure to pass health care legislation…”

Reform of Safety-Net Programs

  • GOP challenge: Reforming widely accepted ‘safety net’ programs, By Mark Turnbull, July 19, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “The failure of Senate Republicans to close ranks on health-care reform this week put on display an old challenge: How conservatives can reform social safety-net programs when there’s a growing acceptance of them – even among Republican voters…”
  • Small tweaks to existing policies could make a huge difference for poor families, By Karen Weese, July 20, 2017, Washington Post: “It wasn’t much — just five bucks apiece — but both boys’ eyes sparkled when Carol Moore told them they could spend it on anything they wanted. ‘Meet me back here in 10 minutes,’ Moore told the boys, whom she’d met a few months ago when they came to her church’s homeless shelter. As the boys set out into the aisles of Walmart, she called after them: ‘Just get something you really want, okay?’ Ten minutes later, they came back and held out their treasure. It was deodorant…”