Health and Poverty News

The Boston Globe, August 28, 2014: Aid to disabled children now outstrips welfare

"A controversial federal benefits program provided about $20 billion to low-income families with disabled children over the last two years, quietly eclipsing traditional welfare programs to become the biggest source of monthly cash for the nation’s poorest families, new data shows. The dramatic growth of the children’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program has led some researchers to suggest it has simply replaced welfare as a primary source of cash for many families who lost benefits due to the much-touted welfare reforms of the mid-1990s."

The New York Times, August 28, 2014: Expansion of Mental Health Care Hits Obstacles

“The Affordable Care Act has paved the way for a vast expansion of mental health coverage in America, providing access for millions of people who were previously uninsured or whose policies did not include such coverage before. Under the law, mental health treatment is an ‘essential’ benefit that must be covered by Medicaid and every private plan sold through the new online insurance marketplaces.”

USA Today, August 28, 2014: Mental disorders strand thousands on the streets; Illnesses untreated among homeless

“’There are so many people out there who are mentally ill that need to be treated,’ says Deborah Zelinsky, 45, of Pacoima, Calif., who spent more than two decades homeless before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, getting treatment and finding an apartment. ‘On the streets, you don't have time to get treated. You are trying to survive.’ As they cycle between street corner, jail cell and hospital bed, the homeless who are mentally ill cost local, state and federal agencies millions of dollars a year. This fiscal year, the federal government will spend $5 billion on programs for the homeless. Next year, that figure is likely to grow to nearly $5.7 billion.”

Montgomery Herald, August 28, 2014: Fayette public school students can eat free

“Fayette County Schools this school year have the opportunity to eat breakfast and lunch at school at no cost. The county is participating in a program called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, is an innovative universal free meal service option designed to make it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP is an alternative to collecting, approving and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high poverty local education agencies.”

The State, August 28, 2014: Medicaid expansion effort focuses appeal on low-income voters

“The South Carolina Progressive Network plans to focus its get-out-the-vote efforts this year on the 176,530 people who didn’t get health care coverage because the state’s political leaders turned down federal Medicaid expansion. Using voter registration information and census data, the network came up with estimates on the number of registered voters in each county denied government-provided health care because the state turned down Medicaid expansion. The 176,530 statewide includes 12,018 in Richland County, 2,888 in Lexington County and 1,914 in Kershaw County.”

The Miami Herald, August 27, 2014: Advocates for poor say Jackson Health System bars needy from charity care

“Demanding onerous paperwork from low-income applicants is just one way that Jackson has barred eligible Miami-Dade residents from accessing the charity care program, according to administrative complaints filed this week with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The complaints lodged by Florida Legal Services and the National Health Law Program, nonprofit groups that provide civil legal help to the indigent, allege that Jackson fails to meet new requirements for nonprofit hospitals under the Affordable Care Act and other laws.”

The Dallas Morning News, August 27, 2014: New initiative aims to help Dallas area's working poor to help themselves

“Many nonprofits act as triage units for needy families, while others believe writing aid checks merely treats the symptoms instead of the disease. The Communities Foundation of Texas is trying to steer nonprofits toward educating the working poor in basic financial literacy, so that one medical emergency or layoff won't plunge them into poverty. The foundation is funding a new initiative called the Working Family Success model to serve those barely living above the federal poverty line. The model, developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, bundles services such as job training, financial counseling and income support.”

The Houston Chronicle, August 27, 2014: (Op-Ed) Lawmakers need to stop the losses at Texas hospitals

“Emergency room doctors see critically ill poor people every day who waited too long to seek help because they lack health insurance. The ER doctors provide them with just enough care to responsibly send patients on their way, knowing full well that while the patients will likely return, they will probably never pay the bill. Hospitals have complained about this problem for at least 15 years and have coped by quietly padding the bills sent to insurance companies, driving up health care costs for the rest of us.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 27, 2014: Health-premium dip set 2% drop for state exchange needs U.S. OK

“Gov. Mike Beebe's spokesman, Matt DeCample, called the preliminary rates ‘great news for the state.’ He credited the so-called private option, which uses Medicaid dollars to buy coverage for low-income adults on the insurance exchange, with adding more young, healthy people to insurance companies' plans, thus lowering the insurers' risk. Arkansas Surgeon General Joe Thompson agreed. About 65 percent of private option enrollees are younger than age 44, compared with 38 percent of those in non-Medicaid plans, he said. Thompson said the preliminary rates show that insurance companies ‘overshot what they thought the risk was’ in setting their initial rates for this year.”

The New York Times, August 26, 2014: (Op-Ed) How to Get Kids to Class

“For the 16 million American children living below the federal poverty line, the start of a new school year should be reason to celebrate. Summer is no vacation when your parents are working multiple jobs or looking for one. Many kids are left to fend for themselves in neighborhoods full of gangs, drugs and despair. Given the hardships at home, poor kids might be expected to have the best attendance records, if only for the promise of a hot meal and an orderly classroom. But it doesn't usually work out that way. According to the education researchers Robert Balfanz and Vaughan Byrnes at Johns Hopkins, children living in poverty are by far the most likely to be chronically absent from school (which is generally defined as missing at least 10 percent of class days each year).”

Plain Dealer, August 26, 2014: Kasich urged to ease food stamp rules statewide

“Advocates for the poor on Monday called on Gov. John Kasich to reinstate the statewide waiver of work requirements to receive food stamp benefits. Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can receive up to three months of food stamp benefits within three years. To continue receiving benefits, able-bodied adults without dependents must work or attend job training at least 20 hours per week.”

The Montgomery Advertiser, August 26, 2014: Grant offers homeless access to health care

“Access to health care for sheltered homeless is being made possible through a grant received by The Wellness Coalition. The Wellness Coalition applied for a $27,473 grant to hire a case manager who would visit homeless shelters and help residents enroll in an insurance plan and also apply for free medication. Funding for the project is through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the city of Montgomery.”

Telegram and Gazette, August 26, 2014: More school districts consider free meals for all

“The Southbridge schools are participating in a federal government-sponsored universal meal program called the Community Eligibility Provision, the latest opportunity for schools with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. Qualifying schools must have at least 40 percent of their students either in foster care, Head Start, or are confirmed as homeless, migrant or living in households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance, or Food Distribution on Indian Reservation benefits. The meals program is a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and it was phased in by the U.S. Department of Agriculture over three years.”

The Montgomery Advertiser, August 26, 2014: (Editorial) Hungry children need help

“School is back in session, and many impoverished parents in Alabama who struggle to keep food on the table can breathe a sigh of relief. Children once again, if needed, can eat a free or reduced-price cafeteria meal. But not all working poor families qualify for help. Alabama has one of the highest rates of food-insecure households with children. Nearly one third of the state's 1 million children often can't be sure dinner will be served. And the bad numbers on food insecurity show no sign of letting up, as unemployment creeps higher, particularly in north Alabama, where thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost in recent months.”

Redding Record Searchlight, August 26, 2014: Survey offers emerging profile of Redding's homeless (Subscription Only)

“A survey of Shasta County’s homeless population by police officers working side by side with social services is far from over, but a profile of the homeless camper is emerging. Two-months worth of data show two-thirds of the people interviewed either have a mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction. Half of those interviewed do not have a single source of income, posing one of the most significant challenges to securing housing. The majority are locals.”

Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2014: L.A. accuses Glendale Adventist of patient dumping on skid row

“Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit accusing Glendale Adventist Medical Center of dumping mentally ill and disabled homeless patients on L.A.'s skid row over the last four years. The six-page complaint, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, said the hospital improperly transported elderly and dependent patients to the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood, a 50-block area ‘known for extreme poverty, homelessness, rampant sale and use of illegal drugs and violent crime.’”

The Washington Times, August 25, 2014: Medicaid payment woes plague Idaho mental health service providers

“The state's effort to rein in Medicaid costs has created deep friction between small businesses that deliver behavioral-health services to Medicaid patients and a new contractor hired to manage them. Service providers across Idaho have raised complaints over the last 11 months that the contractor, Optum Idaho, a unit of United Behavioral Health, has created red tape and cut services needed by at-risk patients. Now providers in the Treasure Valley have raised another complaint: Optum isn't paying them promptly, putting their businesses' survival and employees' jobs at risk. Optum says it has fixed a glitch that resulted in tiny claims payments to the companies, which provide counseling and other behavioral health services to low-income and disabled adults and children on Medicaid.”

The Boston Herald, August 25, 2014: (Op-Ed) Obama's team creates crisis after crisis

“A potentially game-ending crisis for our nation is the growing number of people dependent on welfare - now at epidemic levels. The Census Bureau reports that in 2012, nearly 110 million Americans lived in a household that received some sort of means-tested aid. A whopping 35 percent of our population is on welfare. These figures don't include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment or veterans benefits. It does include 82 million people on Medicaid, with an additional 9 million expected to enroll this year due to Obamacare. In 2000, there were only 17 million people with EBT cards. That's up to 51 million now - 300 percent larger. Then there are 22 million on WIC; 13 million in public housing; 20 million on supplemental security income; 5 million on temporary assistance for needy families; and 4 million with other forms of tax-funded assistance.”

The Daily Athenaeum, August 25, 2014: (Op-Ed) Food insecurity hitting hard on college campuses

“This year, more college students will experience food insecurity - the lack of ability to find or afford nutritious food - than ever before. This trend has much more serious consequences than you may think. A study published in the January 2014 edition of the "Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior" found that nearly 60 percent of students at a midsized university were threatened with food insecurity sometime during the previous year, and that figure is only expected to grow. In fact, college students are four times more likely to experience this concern when compared to all U.S. households, although this problem has received scarcely any attention targeted toward the college demographic.”

Winston-Salem Journal, August 25, 2014: (Editorial) We're still facing challenges of poverty and hunger

“The need for assistance with food is growing across the 18-county area served by the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, according to a new study produced by Second Harvest and Feeding America, which showed that the organization and its affiliates are currently feeding nearly 300,000 individuals — or one in every six people living in Northwest North Carolina. This is higher than the national average of one in seven. Sixty-two percent of Second Harvest's partner programs report increases in the number of requests for food assistance.”

Post and Courier, August 25, 2014: New primary care program may benefit former inmates

“An estimated 9,000 inmates discharged from the South Carolina corrections system each year may soon benefit from a modified Medicaid program that would address some of their basic health care needs after they leave prison. Officials from the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the S.C. Department of Corrections recently discussed enrolling these adults into a new program upon their release called Healthy Connections Checkup, which provides primary care screenings and family-planning benefits for residents whose income falls below 194 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $22,600 a year for a single adult.”

The Oklahoman, August 25, 2014: Glitches delay Medicaid enrollment for former foster kids

“An estimated 2,300 former foster youth - these two examples included - are now eligible to remain on the state's Medicaid program until age 26. Some advocates are worried, however, that not enough former foster children are being enrolled into the program. That change in eligibility is thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that expanded the Medicaid program to allow young people who were in foster care when they turned 18 to remain on the state health insurance coverage plan until age 26.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 25, 2014: Mobile health clinic provides care to homeless

“Just steps from the incident, the Touro University Nevada mobile health care clinic was parked — treating the down and out on the street of broken dreams. A few weeks ago, the college started the outreach program to provide medical care to people living on the streets. Students from Touro’s physician assistant studies program get on-the-job training providing basic medical needs. The team treats patients with medical problems that include rashes, colds and spider bites.”

Investor’s Business Daily, August 25, 2014: Government Dependency In U.S. Nears The Tipping Point

“New data on federal public assistance programs show we've reached an ignominious milestone: More than 100 million Americans are getting some form of ‘means-tested" welfare assistance. The Census Bureau found 51 million on food stamps at the end of 2012 and 83 million on Medicaid, with tens of millions of households getting both. Another 4 million were on unemployment insurance. The percentage of American households on welfare has reached 35%. If we include other forms of government assistance such as Medicare and Social Security, almost half of all households are getting a check or other form of government assistance.”

San Francisco Chronicle, August 24, 2014: Medi-Cal has booby trap for estates

“Many low-income Californians who became eligible for Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid, under the Affordable Care Act were happy to get free health care. But for those 55 and older, it came with a booby trap. When they die, the state will attempt to recover anything it spent on their health care from their estates, including their home. This so-called estate recovery program has been a feature of Medi-Cal for many years, but the act allowed California to expand Medi-Cal coverage to a much larger group of people, including those with low incomes but unlimited assets. Some who are 55-plus are deeply concerned about asset recovery, because the rules are confusing and it's hard to know how much of their estate is at risk.”