Health and Poverty News
"The number of state low-income children eating breakfast at school jumped 55 percent in the past four years, according to an annual report released Tuesday by Advocates for Children of New Jersey. Nearly all major urban school districts now serve breakfast 'after the bell,' according to Nancy Parello, spokeswoman for the nonprofit."
"The City of Minneapolis will be ridding 280 low-income homes of lead-based paint and other hazards thanks to a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city says the funds will be focused on homes with children under 6 who already have been lead poisoned."
"A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey reports that health-insurance premiums rose by a 'modest' 3% in 2013. Even more modest, however, was the 2.3% growth of workers’ earnings last year. These figures merely illustrate a long-term trend of rising health costs eating away at wages. The real story is even more dramatic: Government data show that health costs are the biggest driver of income inequality in America today."
"A new study released by the Health & Wellness Coalition of Wichita has found specific barriers preventing Wichitans in three ZIP codes from buying healthier foods. Last year, the coalition discovered 44 square miles in Wichita considered food deserts — areas where low-income residents have little to no access to healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and who live more than a mile from a full-service grocery store."
"In a preliminary trial, an interactive website developed in England called StopAdvisor was found to be especially helpful to low-income people in quitting smoking. Health researchers worry that people with low income or low education levels may be left out when it comes to digital innovations in health and wellness, but in this study, poorer participants benefited even more from the online tool than wealthier ones."
"Despite the tiny fact that purchasing alcohol with welfare money is illegal in Colorado, nearly $500,000 in taxpayer money was used in liquor stores across the state over the past two years."
"The unemployment rate fell below 6 percent for the first time since July 2008, but people are still struggling. They're either dropping out of the labor force or can only get a part-time job. Here's an interesting trend. That share of the population, what's known as the U6 rate, tracks pretty closely with the share of Americans who receive food assistance through the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP."
"Rauner's words mark the first time he has publicly staked out that position after sidestepping the question of a possible rollback of the state's Medicaid expansion during a joint appearance in March with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and at a Chicago Tribune editorial board meeting a month earlier. The new disclosure comes as President Barack Obama comes to the Chicago area Wednesday to help raise cash for Quinn, who enacted the 2013 expansion necessitated by the president's health-care reform."
"When Gov. John Kasich bucked his party to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Ohio, the fight wasn't over. In a fraught political maneuver in 2013, the Ohio Controlling Board voted to accept about $2.6 billion from the federal government over 18 months to expand eligibility to low-income single adults and more parents."
"Gov. Gary Herbert isn't ready yet to announce a final deal has been reached with the federal government on his Healthy Utah alternative to Medicaid expansion, even though he's holding his annual health summit today. The governor will only be able to provide an update on the ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration in his opening address today to the fourth annual gathering to discuss health care reform."
"A year ago, hospitals worried that they’d lose money and have to cut staff or expenses because of the Affordable Care Act. The full results are not in yet, but in some areas, hospitals report seeing gains, not losses. For President Barack Obama’s administration, these gains, largely from hospitals seeing more patients who have health insurance, are part of the ACA’s good-news story."
"Enrollment in Medicaid is surging as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but the Obama administration and state officials have done little to ensure that new beneficiaries have access to doctors after they get their Medicaid cards, federal investigators say in a new report. The report, to be issued this week by the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, says state standards for access to care vary widely and are rarely enforced. As a result, it says, Medicaid patients often find that they must wait for months or travel long distances to see a doctor."
"Six years after auditors discovered signs that some Texas orthodontists were putting unneeded braces on teeth of the state's poorest children, an army of lawyers is battling over who is liable for one of the biggest instances of Medicaid abuse in recent history. The state's estimate for how much was spent between 2007 and 2012 on Medicaid dental and orthodontic services that were medically unnecessary, improperly documented or not provided at all has climbed to $823 million."
"Medicaid-focused managed-care firm Centene is having its moment as states turn over Medicaid patients to managed-care firms. St. Louis-based Centene has been expanding in Florida and Mississippi, and may get a lot bigger in Illinois next year. It already gets a big slice of Medicaid business from Texas. And Texas will likely hand over more business to Centene next year for a new pilot program for low-income "dual eligibles" -- those on Medicare and Medicaid."
"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 128,531 Montanans were in the SNAP program last year. A family of two must earn less than 11,293 monthly to qualify. There's no comprehensive data to show how many college students struggle with food insecurity. An increasing body of anecdotal and numeric evidence, however, suggests that it is becoming a more pressing problem. A study conducted by Oregon State University researchers in 2011 found 59 percent of OSU students interviewed went hungry at some point the year prior."
"Texas taxpayers and hospitals pay a steep price for the state's refusal to expand Medicaid, top White House officials said Wednesday, citing fresh cost projections for treating the uninsured.
Hospitals nationwide will see uncompensated care drop $5.7 billion this year, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report. Three-fourths of that savings will go to the states that expanded Medicaid."
"While the total number of SNAP enrollees decreased by 7,850 from August of last year, enrollment is trending upward. In August 2010, nearly 1.7 million Illinois residents were receiving SNAP benefits; today that number is approaching 2.03 million, an increase of almost 20 percent."
"Last winter, Virginia's Republican legislative majority blocked Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's plan to extend Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians without medical insurance. Afterwards, McAuliffe vowed to take executive action but discovered legal restrictions limited him to adding 25,000 people to the rolls, mostly those with mental illnesses, though he included funds to encourage 160,000 more to enroll in private insurance. As a result, he was denounced for failing to live up to his vow by the same Virginia GOP whose legislators blocked Medicaid expansion in the first place."
"Eleven people who were arrested last fall following a two-year investigation into $3.6-million worth of food stamp fraud have been convicted of federal crimes and sentenced to prison terms.
The convenience stores that the convicted felons worked out of also have been disqualified from participating in the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP. Investigators from a host of federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Office of the Inspector General and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, said the investigation revealed that the store owners charged with crimes and their employees allowed recipients of SNAP benefits to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and exchange their SNAP benefits for cash."
"An estimated 9,000 people in Randolph County do not have health insurance today because North Carolina did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Based on income levels reported in census data, that's how many adults may have been eligible for the program, according to figures from the Randolph County Department of Social Services (DSS). But not getting access to Medicaid is only part of their trouble."
"Ohio's prison system saved $10 million in medical expenses as a result of changes to Medicaid and is on the verge of releasing inmates with health care in hand. The savings from fiscal year 2014, which ended on June 30, are expected to climb to $18 million for the current fiscal year. Officials credit the savings to a combination of changes implemented with the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. The expansion occurred midway through the 2014 fiscal year."
"For many Americans, this is the reality. They are part of a household that can afford good health insurance and they have come from a culture that goes to the doctor when needed and can pay for medicines when prescribed. Another sizable number are able to access basic medical services thanks to the Medicaid programs administered by the states with funding from the federal government."
"The House of Delegates on Thursday took less than an hour to debate, and dispose of, the one proposal on expanding coverage for low-income Virginians to come before it during its special session on Medicaid. It voted 64 to 33 to kill the measure, with virtually all Republicans opposing the plan and virtually all Democrats supporting it."
"The number of people without health insurance fell by 47,000 during the past year in Ohio, one of 15 states that saw a decline in its pool of uninsured from 2012 through 2013, the federal government reported yesterday."
"This much is clear: Obamacare has already put a major dent in the nation's uninsured rate. By just how much is less clear, and a couple of new government surveys out this morning could make the situation seem a bit more confusing. The U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey out Tuesday morning found that the nation's uninsured rate in 2013 was 13.4 percent, or about 42 million people. The Census data, though, covers the year leading up to the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion, so it doesn't offer much information on Obamacare's impact — though it provides a baseline of the country just before the law went into effect."