Health and Poverty News
"The difference between right and wrong in the Florida Legislature is as obvious as light and darkness. Senators met in the sunshine Tuesday to discuss the considerable benefits of accepting federal Medicaid expansion money and revamping payments to hospitals for treating the uninsured. House Republicans met in secret and were asked to trust their leadership's rigid opposition to providing health coverage to low-income Floridians. It's hard to meet in public when your position is financially and morally irresponsible."
"The head of UF Health in Jacksonville painted a dire picture Tuesday of the future of his hospital without the pool of money that helps cover the cost of uninsured adults' unpaid bills. 'If I lose it, I'll close in a few months,' UF Health Jacksonville Chief Executive Officer Russell Armistead told the Florida Senate about the pot of money known as the low-income pool (LIP)."
"By rejecting an expansion of Medicaid, the House of Representatives is standing guard over a broken system that forces you to pay twice to care for the working poor:"
"An estimated 850,000 uninsured Floridians would be newly eligible for coverage under the plan, though they would be required to work or to attend school, and to pay monthly premiums.
But House leaders and Gov. Rick Scott oppose any Medicaid expansion because they say they don’t trust the federal government to keep its promise to pay for covering more Floridians. Other states have overcome political opposition to Medicaid expansion and adopted plans to bring government-subsidized coverage to more of their low-income residents: 28 states and the District of Columbia, as of April. Expansion is under discussion in Missouri, Montana, Utah, Alaska and Tennessee."
"Scott is pointing to the state’s loss of federal money for safety net hospitals called the Low Income Pool. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made it crystal clear in February 2015 that some $1.3 billion in Florida’s LIP funding won’t be renewed after June 30. That left a billion-dollar hole in Scott’s proposed budget, which assumed that LIP money would be available. And on Thursday Scott announced he was suing the federal government for allegedly coercing Florida to expand Medicaid."
"A new study led by researchers at MIT and Harvard University offers another dimension to this so-called 'achievement gap': After imaging the brains of high- and low-income students, they found that the higher-income students had thicker brain cortex in areas associated with visual perception and knowledge accumulation. Furthermore, these differences also correlated with one measure of academic achievement—performance on standardized tests."
"In the latest escalation of a complicated standoff between the federal government and the state, Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday he will sue federal officials for tying funding for some hospitals and other health-care providers to Medicaid expansion."
"To catch you up, Florida had been in talks with the administration over expanding Medicaid to 800,000 or more Floridians. But Scott recently reversed his previous support for the expansion. Scott did this because the federal government is close to nixing some of the billions in Medicaid funding for another program — the Low-Income Pool, or LIP — which funnels money to hospitals for low-income patients. Scott says this shows the feds can’t be trusted to honor their commitment under the Medicaid expansion."
"The feud between Scott and the Senate blew out into the open last week, with Scott blaming senators for sabotaging his Medicaid negotiations with the federal government, and senators publicly scolding his agency heads. The main source of the disagreement is over Medicaid. Scott is negotiating with the federal government to extend the Low Income Pool, a $2.2 billion Medicaid program paid with county and federal funds for health care for low-income and uninsured patients."
"About 46 million Americans are living on SNAP. And there are 23.5 million Americans living in food deserts, 13.5 million of whom are low-income."
"A new grant program will make it easier for thousands of low income families to buy fruits and vegetables. The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant is expected to increase farmer revenue by $2.1 million dollars."
"Food pantries, where students in need can stock up on groceries and basic supplies, started cropping up on campuses in large numbers after the recession began in 2007. More than 200 U.S. colleges, mostly public institutions, now operate pantries, and more are on the way, even as the economy rebounds."
"When the earnings of low-income consumers change over the course of the year, a family can risk losing their health coverage if they shift between eligibility for Medicaid and eligibility for coverage on the health insurance exchanges that were set up under the Affordable Care Act."
"Atlanta city officials say they're planning to offer a federally-supported program to provide meals to low-income children during summer break from school."
"Thousands of low-income adults and children have gained access to dental services in recent years as the number of dentists accepting Medicaid and HUSKY patients has soared, according to state data."
"The University of Colorado Hospital is the largest and highest-ranked hospital in the state, an academic institution nationally renowned for its cancer and other specialty care. The complex on the Anschutz Medical Campus towers over Aurora's Montview Park, an area where the poverty rate is around 40 percent, roughly in line with the poverty rate in the Mississippi Delta. A persistent complaint has dogged the hospital in recent years. The thrust: low-income patients have trouble getting in the door."
"he only thing lawmakers are required to do is craft a budget for the fiscal year, which begins July 1. But the House and Senate have some big differences in their proposed budgets. The biggest difference is a $5-billion gap regarding healthcare costs. The Senate has a plan to continue receiving federal money to pay for healthcare for low-income people."
"On April 1st, Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the recipients of $31.5 million in grants from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program. The FINI program was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill."
"For uninsured families, the task of putting food on the table is often difficult enough without having to worry about medical care. 'Unfortunately, families with no insurance who are working hard to provide a roof over their head let vision and dental care take a back seat,' said Centre Volunteers in Medicine Executive Director Cheryl White. In a lot of cases, she said, the children in these families have never had the chance to see a vision or dental specialist."
"The Ecology Center in Berkeley and Mandela Marketplace in Oakland received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to encourage low-income residents receiving federal food assistance to eat more fruits and vegetables."
"Latinos in Idaho experience barriers that make the process of enrolling in healthcare through the state's insurance exchange more challenging. That's according to a report released Thursday by a liberal advocacy group, the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN)."
"Abdull's request that her state fund a health plan enabling access to these therapies was finally granted last week, and now the 1 million poor and disabled Minnesotans who receive aid through Medical Assistance have access to these treatments, according to the Star Tribune."
"The federal government has approved a new benefit for families dealing with autism in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Human Services announced today that the state will provide 'early intensive intervention' for children and young adults on the autism spectrum who are on Medical Assistance."
"Federal health care officials are temporarily suspending negotiations with Florida over a $2.2 billion program that helps safety-net hospitals, the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Wednesday."
"The environment itself has been one of the biggest obstacles to healthy living. There are few parks for calisthenics. Crime poses a threat to early morning or late afternoon runs. And traditional gyms are virtually nonexistent. All these factors make it particularly challenging for residents to stay in shape, according to Gabriela Gonzalez, a project manager for health programs at Esperanza Community Housing Corporation."