Health and Poverty News

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.”

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, August 24, 2014: (Op-Ed) Treat root causes of homelessness

“Although all possible solutions for ending homelessness must be on the table, the premise that treating only the symptoms or simply moving the problem without dealing with the root causes is a disservice to those we desire to help. In order to end the cycle of homelessness and poverty permanently, we must engage in the hard work of supportive services and programs, including recovery, transformation, and restoration to productive citizenship, and it must be in agreement with those individuals who need it the most.”

Williamson Daily News, August 24, 2014: Mingo school system participating in new free meal project

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released data reporting high levels of food insecurity and hunger across the country. In West Virginia, nearly 14 percent of residents live in food insecure households and more than 88,500 children live below the poverty line. The CEP was enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and provides universal meal service to children in high poverty areas. This is the second year for the option. 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 (LEA). If at least 40 percent of a school’s students are directly certified for free meal benefits, the entire school qualifies for the option.”

Deseret News, August 23, 2014: Transit, health care discussions dominate poverty summit

“The metropolitan area can have as many buses as there are streets, but if the fares aren't affordable, the transit system isn't working. While Salt Lake City may boast it has top-ranked, quality health care in its stable of state-of-the-art hospitals, the system fails if people can't get treated due to financial hurdles. This paradox that exists for many low-income people dominated the discussion at the 11th annual Poverty Partnership Summit Saturday hosted at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark.”

The Spectrum, August 22, 2014: Health community pushes Healthy Utah Plan

“Utah’s top health official said Thursday he is optimistic about the prospects of gaining federal approval for a state-tailored private expansion of Medicaid, but some strides still need to be made. David Patton, director of the Utah Department of Health, met privately with elected officials and other community leaders during a visit to Washington County, part of a campaign to gather support for Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah Plan, proposed as a compromised alternative to a full Medicaid expansion under the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act.”

The Boston Globe, August 20, 2014: Medicaid insurers prod state on funds; Tie costly drug, surge in members to a need for higher payments

“Buckling from more than $140 million in losses racked up since the start of the year, the companies that contract with the state to insure Medicaid patients are pressing the Patrick administration to boost health payments for low-income residents. The health insurers' losses are tied to a high-cost hepatitis C drug approved by federal regulators last December and a surge of nearly 190,000 new members, many with expensive medical needs, assigned by MassHealth, the state Medicaid program. State funding budgeted for the current year falls far short of covering these costs, the insurers say.”

Boston Business Journal, August 20, 2014: MassHealth insurers look to state, other markets to solve operating losses

“Health insurers that cover low-income residents are reacting in different ways to financial struggles brought on by the health care overhaul and expensive drugs, with some turning to new markets while others petition the state for help. Many insurers that cover Medicaid populations, and those that offer the fee-per-member model for Medicaid clients known as ‘Managed Medicaid,’ have seen drastic operating losses in the last several months.”

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 20, 2014: Fewer in state filing for U.S. disability aid (Subscription Only)

“Fewer low-income children and adults are filing for federal disability benefits in Arkansas this year, according to the state's Social Security disability determination agency. Physically or mentally disabled people up to age 64 who have little or no Social Security trust funds are eligible for Supplemental Security Income, SSI. Those approved for the federal program, which is funded through general tax revenue, are automatically enrolled in Medicaid. The 19 percent drop - from 17,497 first-time SSI applications to 14,160 applications from Oct. 1 to Tuesday - is the largest seen by the agency since 2006.”

The Washington Times, August 19, 2014: Chris Christie is lone GOP presidential prospect to expand Medicaid

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare puts him alone among Republican governors vying for the 2016 presidential nomination, and could come back to haunt him among primary voters. Some of his potential rivals who are also governors have sought ways to leverage federal money, and others have spurned the Medicaid expansion altogether. Mr. Christie, however, embraced President Obama’s vision of expanding the federal-state health care program for the poor to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level.”

The Messenger-Inquirer, August 19, 2014: Uninsured adults fall in state

“Kentucky showed one of the largest drops in the percentage of uninsured adults since expanded Medicaid went into effect last January, according to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index poll. The latest state figures show that 512,000 Kentuckians were newly enrolled in health coverage, with nearly three-fourths of them qualifying under Medicaid expansion that happened as part of the Affordable Care Act. One-fourth purchased private insurance through the state-based marketplace, kynect.”

The Plain Dealer, August 19, 2014: Food stamp discrimination alleged in civil rights complaint brought against Ohio

“Advocates for the poor have filed a civil rights complaint against Ohio officials for failing to renew the state's food stamp waiver for all 88 Ohio counties, which resulted in thousands of Ohioans losing the federal benefits. In a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the advocacy groups argued the decision disproportionately hurt minority Ohioans.”

The Pitt News, August 19, 2014: What we must do to combat poverty

“The apparent disparity of income inequality among low- and high-income families in the United States is at an all-time high. Income inequality, or poverty to be exact, is one of the most deprecating issues hindering society and, for decades now, little has been done to reverse the trend. Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and Supplemental Security Income are all directed to helping those in need, particularly those troubled by a serious gap in income, resources and education from their wealthier, more adept counterparts."

The Miami Herald, August 18, 2014: Pediatricians in Florida could see relief from low Medicaid payments

“After years of hearings and delays, the possible resolution this fall of a class-action lawsuit against Florida health and child-welfare officials could mean that physicians will at last receive what they consider to be adequate compensation for treating children of the poor. The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by pediatricians, dentists and nine children against the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families and the Department of Health, claimed that Florida violated federal law by providing inadequate Medicaid services to children, and that their care had been hampered by low Medicaid payments to doctors. A federal judge is expected to rule on the case in October.”

The Huffington Post, August 18, 2014: The Percentage Of Americans Who Can't Afford Food Hasn't Budged Since The Recession Peaked

"More than five years into an economic recovery, with unemployment falling and the stock market at record highs, millions of Americans like Taormina still can't afford basic nutrition, according to a blockbuster study released Monday by the relief charity Feeding America. The 160-page report, titled Hunger in America 2014, claims to be the largest, most comprehensive study of hunger in the U.S. ever conducted. It took four years to produce and involved interviews with 60,000 people whose households are served by the charity."

The Washington Post, August 17, 2014: Hospitals reassess charity as Obamacare options become available

“As more Americans gain insurance under the federal health law, hospitals are rethinking their charity programs, with some scaling back help for those who could have signed up for coverage but didn't. The move is prompted by concerns that offering free or discounted care to low-income, uninsured patients might dissuade them from getting government-subsidized coverage. It also reflects hospitals' strong financial interest in having more patients covered by insurance as the federal government makes big cuts in funding for uncompensated care.”

The Myrtle Beach Sun-News, August 16, 2014: SC seventh worst for underprivileged children, national study says

“The study by WalletHub, primarily a financial advice website, relied partly on Kids Count data to rank South Carolina as 45th for the percent of children in households with below-poverty income, 32nd in the percent of maltreated children, 41st in the child food insecurity rate, 42nd in the infant death rate and 39th for the percent of children without health insurance.”

Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 16, 2014: Florida leads nation in turning down Medicaid money

“Florida is No. 1 again. But state officials may not be accepting many accolades for this latest distinction. Florida leads the nation in turning down Medicaid funding from the federal government, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute. By refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Florida will lose out on $66.1 billion in federal funding over the next decade. Florida even edges out Texas, which comes in at a close second with $65.6 billion in lost federal cash.”

The Tennessean, August 16, 2014: TennCare blames feds for application delays

“Officials with the state of Tennessee have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them, contending the federal government, not TennCare, is to blame for a backlog of Medicaid applications.”

Miami News-Record, August 15, 2014: The Harbor, Walmart get involved with 'Feeding America'

“According to the ‘Feeding America’ website, although the recession is officially ended, unemployment rates are down, contributing to the high levels of food insecurity throughout the nation in every county.”

The Chippewa Herald, August 15, 2014: (Opinion) More health care coverage, though not enough

“Gov. Scott Walker’s rejection of federal money to expand Medicaid didn’t help the cause. Yet the Republican governor’s decision not to set up a state-run insurance exchange is looking better, given the trouble Minnesota has experienced with its MNSure website.”

Federal Way Mirror, August 15, 2014: Federal Way Council opposes potential closure of Public Health Center

“While Public Health clinics will remain open in downtown Seattle, Lake City, Bellevue, Renton and Kent, Councilwoman Lydia Assefa-Dawson pointed out upcoming King County Metro bus cuts will make it even harder for low-income families to access health care. According to a city memorandum, more than 90 percent of the Federal Way Public Health Center’s clientele have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, 73 percent are people of color, 7 percent are homeless, 59 percent of family planning clients are uninsured, 20 percent of those who are pregnant and served by the maternity support services are involved with drugs or alcohol and 11 percent of client visits require an interpreter.”

Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2014: Joining forces to aid homeless; A city-county program offers services to get people off skid row

“Los Angeles city and county workers launched a major effort Wednesday to clean up skid row and offer medical, mental health and social services to help an estimated 1,700 homeless people get off the streets. Dr. Susan Partovi, the medical field director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, joined 35 city sanitation and street service workers, and a couple dozen mental health, medical and outreach workers, on San Julian Street between 5th and 6th streets.”

Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2014: Can Medi-Cal still work?

“California is coming face to face with the reality of one of its biggest Obamacare successes: the explosion in Medi-Cal enrollment. The numbers -- 2.2 million enrollees since January -- surprised healthcare experts and created unforeseen challenges for state officials. Altogether, there are now about 11 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries, constituting nearly 30% of the state's population. That has pushed the public insurance program into the spotlight, after nearly 50 years as a quiet mainstay of the state's healthcare system, and it has raised concerns about California's ability to meet the increased demand for healthcare.”

The Tennessean, August 14, 2014: TennCare call center has no answers

“Tennesseans calling for help with Medicaid applications reach someone who can't view their file, can't answer basic questions, and probably won't call them back. Because of delays with a $35.7 million computer system, call center employees can do little except answer the telephone and pass along messages to TennCare. They cannot tell whether the state has received applications from the federal health insurance marketplace, and they cannot tell people the status of their eligibility. An attorney with a law firm representing TennCare acknowledged those failings in a letter. That letter has become part of a federal lawsuit that lawyers for three nonprofits filed against TennCare last month.”

Tulsa World, August 14, 2014: (Opinion) Arkansas made the most of the insurance mandate

“Most Americans disapprove of the Affordable Care Act and its mandate requiring adults to purchase health insurance. Despite the opposition, the public is complying with the law: The number of uninsured Americans is dropping precipitously. No state has made progress faster than Arkansas. A new Gallup survey released this past week shows that the percentage of the state's population without insurance dropped nearly in half, down from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent today.”