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

Tag: States

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…”

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…”

Foster Care System

  • This new federal law will change foster care as we know it, By Teresa Wiltz, May 2, 2018, Stateline: “A new federal law, propelled by the belief that children in difficult homes nearly always fare best with their parents, effectively blows up the nation’s troubled foster care system. Few outside child welfare circles paid any mind to the law, which was tucked inside a massive spending bill President Donald Trump signed in February. But it will force states to overhaul their foster care systems by changing the rules for how they can spend their annual $8 billion in federal funds for child abuse prevention…”
  • Judges wrestle over whether Texas mistreats foster kids so badly, it tramples their rights, By Robert T. Garrett, April 30, 2018, Dallas News: “A panel of three judges appeared divided Monday on whether Texas has breached the U.S. Constitution in how it treats foster children — and if so, what should be done about it. A top assistant to Attorney General Ken Paxton and a Houston lawyer who’s the lead counsel in a class action suit on behalf of nearly 11,000 children in long-term foster care clashed for an hour at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Their argument was over whether judges should embrace or reject U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack’s 2015 ruling that the state’s system is ‘broken’ because it subjects already vulnerable youths to mayhem and harm and that remedial orders must be implemented…”

Welfare Reform

  • Wisconsin is the GOP model for ‘welfare reform.’ But as work rules grow, family faces the hard reality, By Robert Samuels, April 23, 2018, Northwest Herald: “The shock absorbers in James Howlett’s Ford Fusion were busted, but he and his partner, Nadine, packed their two children inside anyway. They were already homeless, and their time on food stamps was running out. They needed to fix the car and dig up documents to try to get back on welfare. The suburban homeless shelter where they slept the night before was now in the distance as they made their way through the familiar blight of the city neighborhood that was once home. Howlett dropped Kayden, 5, at kindergarten and Cali, 3, at day care in a community center that stood amid the boarded-up houses and vacant fields surrounded by barbed wire that dot Milwaukee’s north side. That’s when he found himself gripped by a new worry: His run-down Ford might be another barrier to government assistance…”
  • Farm bill creates latest push for ‘welfare reform’, By Jessica Wehrman, April 22, 2018, Columbus Dispatch: “Republicans’ next big push for ‘welfare reform’ comes courtesy of a bill designed to pay for the nation’s farm programs. The federal farm bill, which expires on Oct. 1, is aimed at providing federal support to farmers who may need it during tough times. But roughly 80 percent of the bill goes to federal food assistance, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That typically makes the bill’s passage a bipartisan affair, with urban and rural lawmakers joining forces to both help feed the poor and to keep farmers facing financial difficulty from being driven out of business entirely. But this year’s bill has been different. Instead, to Democrats’ fury, House Republicans see the farm bill as an opportunity to take a crack at revamping SNAP, formerly known as food stamps…”

Minimum Wage

  • How big is the minimum-wage workforce in your state?, By Mike Maciag, April 25, 2018, Governing: “The last time the federal minimum wage increased, Barack Obama was only a few months into his first term as president and the country was mired in the depths of the Great Recession. Nearly nine years later, a small segment of the workforce is still earning $7.25 an hour or less. The latest Labor Department estimates indicate that just over 1.8 million hourly workers were paid at or below the federal minimum last year. While that’s a small part of the overall workforce — a mere 2.3 percent of hourly workers — it makes up a larger portion in some states…”
  • The case for raising the minimum wage keeps getting stronger, By Lydia DePillis, April 27, 2018, CNN Money: “It’s been too cold to campaign in frozen North Dakota. But as spring has crept across the state, an unusual ballot initiative is starting to emerge: One that would more than double the minimum wage, from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2021…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

How Medicaid work requirements could hurt older Americans, By Lisa Esposito, April 20, 2018, US News and World Report: “For some lower-income Americans, Medicaid is their lifeline to health care. That includes ‘older nonelderly’ adults from 50 to 64 – an age range when chronic health conditions and mobility issues are common. Other people use Medicaid benefits so they can serve as family caregivers. On Jan. 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that states can apply for waivers to implement work requirements for people who receive Medicaid benefits. Some older Americans will be affected…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Trump executive order strengthens work requirements for neediest Americans, By Tracy Jan, April 10, 2018, Washington Post: “President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing federal agencies to strengthen existing work requirements and introduce new ones for low-income Americans receiving Medicaid, food stamps, public housing benefits and welfare as part of a broad overhaul of government assistance programs…”
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs new limits on welfare programs into law, By Jason Stein, April 10, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday signed new limits on welfare programs into law, committing state and federal taxpayers to nearly $80 million in spending to draw more people into the labor force…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

Republicans lead Medicaid expansion push in 2 holdout states, By Mattie Quinn, March 30, 2018, Governing: “After five years of failed attempts to expand Medicaid, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill last week to do just that. It may come as a surprise that the bill was sponsored by a Republican. Republicans have historically opposed making more low-income people eligible for the government health insurance program. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama’s signature legislation, the federal government pays 90 to 100 percent of the costs for any state that expands. But Republican-led states have been slow to expand Medicaid, and nearly 20 of them still have not…”

Medicaid Work Requirements

  • Northern Ky. expected to be first area affected by new Medicaid work/training requirement, By Lisa Gillespie, April 6, 2018, Cincinnati Public Radio: “A top Kentucky official says northern Kentucky will likely be the first area where Medicaid enrollees will have to meet the state’s new ‘community engagement’ requirement, starting July 1. Kristi Putnam, program manager for the Medicaid changes in Kentucky, said the state sent out post-cards this week…”
  • Ohio’s plan to add work requirements for Medicaid gets push back, By Kaitlin Schroeder, April 5, 2018, Dayton Daily News: “Dozens of medical and social service lobbying groups are pushing back against Ohio Medicaid’s request to create work requirements for able-bodied adults covered through Medicaid expansion. The Trump administration opened the door for states to add the first-ever work requirements associated with the state-federal health insurance program for the poor. In response, the Republican-dominated legislature inserted language in last summer’s budget bill ordering the Kasich administration to apply…”
  • Several groups sign letter opposing HIP work requirement, By Jill Sheridan, March 28, 2018, Indiana Public Media: “A group of non-profits organizations sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb this week, urging him to reconsider a new Healthy Indiana Plan, HIP, rule.  More than 400,000 Hoosiers are currently enrolled in HIP which is Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program.  Last month the state became the second state to receive federal permission to add a work requirement…”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

Felony voting laws are confusing; activists would ditch them altogether, By Rebecca Beitsch, April 5, 2018, Stateline: “Her sentencing made headlines across the country this week: A woman, recently released from prison in Texas and still on felony probation, is set to head back to prison for another five years after she unknowingly broke the law by voting in the 2016 election. Texas law prohibits people such as Crystal Mason from voting until they are no longer under supervision by corrections officers. Mason told the court she had no idea she was prohibited from voting. At her polling station, officials let her cast a provisional ballot. The confusion over felons’ voting rights is not limited to Mason’s situation or to Texas. Across the country, state felon voting laws vary widely…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Medicaid is a lifeline for nearly half of this county’s residents, By Phil Galewitz, March 27, 2018, CNN Money: “On a crisp sunny day, Tyson Toledo, a precocious 5-year-old boy, hobbled into a private health clinic to have his infected foot examined. Pediatrician Gayle Harrison told his mother to continue to apply antibiotic ointment and reminded them to come back if the swelling and redness worsened. The appointment at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services’ outpatient center in Gallup, New Mexico, comes at no charge for the Toledo family, who live 30 miles away on the Navajo Nation Reservation. That’s because Tyson is covered by Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor…”
  • California Medicaid expansion enrolled hundreds of thousands of ineligible people, federal report finds, By Chad Terhune, March 26, 2018, Los Angeles Times: “California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department’s chief watchdog…”
  • Utah governor signs Medicaid expansion bill. Now, Utah waits to see if the feds will approve it., By Luke Ramseth, March 28, 2018, Salt Lake Tribune: “Gov. Gary Herbert signed a measure Tuesday to give more than 70,000 needy Utahns access to government health coverage, ending years of failed attempts on Capitol Hill to expand Medicaid in the state. But whether House Bill 472 ever takes effect still remains uncertain. Under President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Utah law needs approval by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has sent mixed signals on whether it will fully sign off…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating aid program saved, expanded in Trump budget, By David Sharp (AP), March 24, 2018, Spokesman-Review: “A federal heating aid program for low-income residents has survived another attempt by President Donald Trump to kill it. The $1.3 trillion spending bill signed by Trump on Friday includes $3.64 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The energy assistance funding includes an extra $250 million, the first increase in five years…”

Assistance Programs and Work Requirements

  • Proposed work requirements could add uncertainties to Wisconsin’s Medicaid system, By Guy Boulton, March 28, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Wisconsin is among the 10 states that want to impose work requirements on some healthy adults who get health insurance through their Medicaid programs. However, unlike Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas, which have received federal approval for work requirements that they plan to implement immediately, Wisconsin’s requirement wouldn’t kick in until a healthy adult hasn’t worked for four straight years…”
  • Republicans’ new welfare reform focus: Low-income men, By Tami Luhby, March 28, 2018, CNN Money: “A generation ago, Republicans focused on reforming the nation’s safety net by requiring poor mothers to work. These days, the Trump administration and Republican leaders are once again looking to overhaul government assistance programs. But now they are zeroing in on a new group: low-income men.  Much of the focus this time centers on requiring able-bodied, working age recipients to get jobs or participate in other community activities if they want to receive Medicaid or food stamps — two of the largest public aid programs in the US with tens of millions of enrollees each…”
  • WV Gov. Justice quietly signs SNAP work requirement bill, By Jake Zuckerman, March 27, 2018, Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law Tuesday that will impose work requirements on certain adults receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…”

State Unemployment Benefits

In good times, safety net for the jobless frays, By Patrik Jonsson and Simon Montlake, March 27, 2018, Christian Science Monitor: “Jennifer Barkley looks down and apologizes for her sneakers, which are missing their laces. A well-worn polyester dress whips about her legs. It’s been a long day, and Ms. Barkley is headed home, jobless and frustrated. A call center operator in Jacksonville, Barkley has been let go three times in the past year after big corporations like Bank of America changed contractors. Since these redundancies were no fault of her own, she’s eligible for unemployment benefits, which means she’s a regular at CareerSource Florida, a state agency which has a branch here in a strip-mall office next to a Halloween-themed amusement park. Life on the dole in Florida isn’t easy street: Barkley’s benefits come to $270 a week and max out at three months…”

Legal Aid Funding – Kentucky

Kentucky could become third state not to fund legal aid, By Adam Beam (AP), March 27, 2018, Ledger-Enquirer: “Edna Bland had just adopted a child, her father was dying and her husband was having risky heart surgery when a mortgage company tried to take her house in 2009. Because Bland had not been charged with a crime, she was not guaranteed the right to an attorney. A judge ruled against her, and the mortgage company tried to put a lock on her house…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Virginia Republicans divided on Medicaid expansion, By Megan Pauly, March 14, 2018, National Public Radio: “Virginia is among 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But this year, the state legislature is going into a special session to continue discussions about whether or not to include it in its budget. By the time the regular session adjourned Saturday, members of Virginia’s GOP-controlled House of Delegates and Senate could not reach agreement on whether or not to expand Medicaid…”
  • Proposed Medicaid work requirements could end up costing Minnesota, By Glenn Howatt, March 18, 2018, Star Tribune: “Republican legislators who are proposing work requirements for Minnesota’s Medicaid recipients say it would promote personal responsibility and save taxpayer dollars, but doctors and county officials who work in the system predict that people would lose needed health care in exchange for savings that are likely to disappoint…”
  • Mississippi Medicaid saves $4.6M in one year by identifying unnecessary, expensive scripts, By Anna Wolfe, March 22, 2018, Clarion Ledger: “By identifying unnecessary, expensive prescriptions covered by the state’s Medicaid program, Mississippi officials say they’ve saved nearly $5 million…”
  • Expanding Medicaid to cut Medicaid: Texas turns to Trump administration to fund family planning, By Phil Galewitz and Anna Gorman, March 22, 2018, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing whether to allow Texas to receive millions of federal Medicaid dollars for its family planning program, which bars abortion providers.  The Lone Star State eliminated its Medicaid-funded family planning program five years ago when state officials said they wanted to specifically exclude Planned Parenthood because the group provides abortions. Dozens of women’s health clinics closed as Texas established a wholly state-funded program that officials say today serves 220,000 women…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid expansion’s troubled future, By Vann R. Newkirk II, March 13, 2018, The Atlantic: “In 2012, the Supreme Court’s decision in the NFIB v. Sebelius case sent shockwaves through the health-policy community, with Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion causing much teeth-gnashing all around. Among many conservatives, the preservation of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate constituted ‘one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in American history.’ For supporters of the law, the decision to turn the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid into a state-optional program threatened to destabilize the entire project of expanding coverage to the poorest Americans…”

Medicaid Work Requirements – Arkansas

Thousands of Arkansas Medicaid recipients must start working in June, By Tami Luhby, March 5, 2018, CNN Money: “Tens of thousands of low-income Arkansas residents will have to start working in June if they want to keep their Medicaid benefits. The state received approval from the Trump administration Monday to impose work requirements on certain non-elderly, non-disabled beneficiaries who don’t have dependent children at home. It joins Kentucky and Indiana in being granted such a waiver, but Arkansas plans to put the requirement into effect earlier than the other states…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • All those Medicaid experiments? States often fail to evaluate the results, By Phil Galewitz, February 26, 2018, Governing: “With federal spending on Medicaid experiments soaring in recent years, a congressional watchdog said state and federal governments fail to adequately evaluate if the efforts improve care and save money…”
  • Tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients don’t pay their premiums, By Phil Galewitz, February 28, 2018, CNN Money: “When Arkansas lawmakers debated whether to renew the state’s Medicaid expansion in 2016, many Republican lawmakers were swayed only if some of the 300,000 adults who gained coverage would have to start paying premiums. This ‘skin-in-the-game’ provision — endorsed by conservatives in Washington and in many statehouses — is designed to make Medicaid recipients value their government health insurance more and lead healthier lives…”

State Voting Restrictions for Felons

Most states disenfranchise felons. Maine and Vermont allow inmates to vote from prison, By Jane C. Timm, February 26, 2018, NBC News: “Joseph Jackson was one of the millions of Americans inspired by Barack Obama’s 2008 White House bid. A black man in the nation’s whitest state, he coordinated voter registration drives and cast his first-ever ballot for the candidate who would become the nation’s first African-American president. And he did it all while incarcerated in a maximum-security prison, serving 19 years for manslaughter.  That’s because Jackson, 52, was convicted in Maine, one of just two states that allow felons to vote from behind bars…”