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

Tag: States

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…”

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…”

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…”

School Funding

Why school spending is so unequal, By Mike Maciag, August 2018, Governing: “The Hopatcong School District, serving a solidly middle-class borough of Sussex County, N.J., has a lot of money to work with. It spent approximately $40,000 per student in fiscal 2016 — more than any other school district in the country with at least 1,000 students. A few other New Jersey districts of similar size were spending less than a third of that. Such vast differences in education spending are common across districts, and come as debates over teacher pay and demands for more overall state support have garnered a lot of attention this year…”

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…”

Minimum Wage – Birmingham, AL

In battle pitting cities vs. states over minimum wage, Birmingham scores a win, By Yuki Noguchi, July 27, 2018, National Public Radio: “A federal appeals court handed workers in Birmingham, Ala., a significant win this week. The city is in a battle against state lawmakers over whether it has the right to raise its minimum wage…”

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

  • 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…”