News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – April 14, 2017
In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: a study out this week shows the Medicaid expansion has paid off for many states. The In-Home Supportive Services program has become vital for thousands of Californians to safely stay in their homes but a plan by the state to shift costs to counties has patients, caregivers and counties worried about the future of the program and all county services. Finally, there’s still time for Californians to claim the state earned income tax credit as they file tax returns. Learn how to take advantage of the credit or help others earn back money.
Obamacare repeal bill is the zombie GOP can’t kill — or bring back to life | Politico | April 14, 2017
Republicans in Congress for the first time are lowering expectations for how much of Obamacare they can repeal and how quickly they can do it. As they meet constituents back home, GOP lawmakers seem trapped between the reality of their failed repeal effort and President Donald Trump’s renewed promises this week to finish off Obamacare before taking on tax reform. Vice President Mike Pence is also still trying to keep the repeal dream alive, working with conservatives on new tweaks to the stalled House bill. But even if the ultra-conservatives come on board, there’s no sign that the moderate Republicans needed to pass a bill are ready to sign on.
Trump administration issues final rule on stricter Obamacare enrollment | Reuters | April 13, 2017
The Trump administration on Thursday issued a final rule that will shorten the Obamacare enrollment period and give insurers more of what they say they need in the individual insurance market, likely making it harder for some consumers to purchase insurance, healthcare experts said. It could also raise out-of-pocket medical expenses, the experts said, because it gives insurers more flexibility in determining the value of their coverage.
New Data Show Medicaid Expansion Pays Off, As Some Holdout States Rethink It | California Healthline | April 12, 2017
Although the GOP-controlled Congress is pledging its continued intention — despite stalls and snags — to dismantle Obamacare, some “red state” legislatures are changing course and showing a newfound interest in embracing the health law’s Medicaid expansion. And a study out Wednesday in Health Affairs adds to these discussions, percolating in places such as Kansas, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina and Maine. Thirty-one states, including California — plus the District of Columbia — already opted to pursue the expansion, which provided federal funding to broaden eligibility to include most low-income adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,000 for an individual). Researchers analyzed data from the National Association of State Budget Officers for fiscal years 2010 to 2015 to assess the fiscal effects of expansion’s first two years.
Future of ACA subsidies is in limbo, awaiting Trump decision | San Francisco Chronicle | April 11, 2017
Every six weeks, Oakland resident Adeeba Deterville gets a blood test to monitor the effects of a medication she is taking to manage a thyroid disorder. Because Deterville, a full-time doctoral student, earns less than $30,000 a year, she qualifies for federal subsidies that lower her insurance deductible and out-of-pocket costs for services like prescription medication, as well as doctor’s visits. Deterville, 54, is one of 680,000 Californians who benefit from the financial assistance, known as “cost-sharing subsidies,” which were created under the Affordable Care Act to help the poorest Americans pay for health care. Without the extra financial help, Deterville said, medical services would be too expensive… The federal government spends $7 billion a year on these subsidies nationwide, and about $750 million of it goes to help low-income residents of California, like Deterville. The future of the subsidies is in limbo: A lawsuit challenging the legality of the payments is on hold before a federal appeals court.
Why in-home care for California’s needy could strain county budgets | The Press-Enterprise | April 7, 2017
It’s hard to pronounce but easy to see what afflicts Kristine Loomis. Ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease affecting the spine, robbed Loomis of movement in her joints. The 60-year-old’s spine and hips are paralyzed and she can’t bend at the waist or the hips. She can’t turn her head and relies on a motorized wheelchair. Loomis, who lives in the rural Sky Valley community outside Desert Hot Springs, relies on three caregivers who work in shifts to help her out of bed, use the bathroom and cook her meals. They’re reimbursed through In-Home Supportive Services, a government-funded program in California that pays for caregivers to help indigent clients. Without the program, people such as Loomis couldn’t live at home.
In Trump Era, L.A. Social Workers Seek Tighter Collaboration with Immigration Officers | Chronicle of Social Change | April 12, 2017
As President Donald Trump moves to expand deportations of undocumented immigrants, a team of rapid-response social workers in Los Angeles is hoping it can come to the aid of children who may be left behind or endangered by immigration enforcement actions. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services’ Multi-Agency Response Team, known as MART, has been sending specially trained social workers to the scenes of law enforcement busts for years. It now hopes to work alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency tasked with enforcing immigration law, so that social workers will be present in the event that children are involved when agents make arrests. MART often works with law enforcement agencies including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the county’s Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). When children are involved, the team is there to shield them from dangerous situations and helps find them placement with family members or in protective custody. Emilio Mendoza, head of the MART team, said he’s eager to begin working alongside immigration officers. For now, MART hasn’t been asked by ICE to participate in immigration raids.
April is child abuse prevention month | Union Democrat | April 6, 2017
The silver and blue pinwheels, 185 in all, spun in the breeze on the lawn of the Tuolumne County Superior Court number Thursday afternoon. Each of the little twirling monuments represented a reduction in reports of abuse received by the Tuolumne County Department of Child Welfare Services (CWS) in 2016 compared to the previous year. The campaign, a visual commemoration of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month in April, signified a success for CWS in its effort to bring educational and familial aid to a community coalition dedicated to ending child abuse, neglect and exploitation.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. John Lewis join L.A. rally to end child poverty | Los Angeles Times | April 9, 2017
Civil rights hero John Lewis and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi lent some star power to a South L.A. rally Sunday aimed at drastically reducing child poverty in California and across the nation. The event — in support of a California Assembly bill that seeks to increase funding for childcare, after-school service, job placement programs and other antipoverty initiatives — was part block party and part progressive pep rally, as lawmakers took potshots at President Trump and danced to pop songs as they took the stage… Assembly Bill 1520, authored and introduced earlier this year by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), seeks to reduce the percentage of children living below the poverty line in California by half by fiscal year 2039.
Don’t Leave Those Low-Income Tax Credits on the Table | KQED | April 13, 2017
When Guadalupe Villegas filed her taxes recently she received a pleasant surprise: a refund of more than $6,000 thanks to the state and federal earned income tax credits. “I got so excited, because I needed some extra help,” said Villegas, a single mother of two who lives in South Los Angeles. “It was the first time I had heard about it.” Villegas found out about the credit only because she received assistance from the Koreatown Youth and Community Center’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, which is sponsored by a Los Angeles County initiative to educate low-income residents about the tax credit. L.A. County says nearly $600 million in federal earned income tax credits go unclaimed each year. And a lot of people are leaving the state version of the tax credit on the table as well.
To submit stories for inclusion in CWDA’s weekly Media Memo, email Sarah Jimenez. County staff and others not currently receiving the Media Memo directly can sign up on the CWDA website at the bottom of the home page.