Medicaid for the incarcerated

Medicaid for the incarcerated

People who are incarcerated – both before a trial and after a conviction – are barred by federal law from accessing their full Medicaid benefits. This has placed an undue burden on local and state governments who are responsible for providing necessary health care to any incarcerated person in their care. Max Blau of RouteFifty explains why a bipartisan group of sheriffs, judges and commissioners are pushing to change that

Some county officials say the policy is discriminatory, allowing people who can post bond to retain their benefits, but denying coverage to indigent individuals. … Beyond that, some officials say the denial of federal health benefits to pretrial detainees disrupts inmate medical care, a key factor that can increase their chances of landing behind bars again. “Jail is not a hotel stay, nor is it vacation,” said Brett Clark, Republican sheriff of Hendricks County, Indiana. “But this issue is a hurdle and a barrier for folks who need to get into treatment programs.”


What’s the difference between a college athlete and a Ph.D. student?
Monday’s college football national championship game in New Orleans (Geaux Tigers!) will be an economic elixir for many – coaches, media companies, advertisers and the universities themselves. Everyone, that is, except the players, who are mostly banned from profiting from their name and likeness. But another group of students often do receive pay, despite also having access to educational resources and world-class facilities: doctoral students. Jhacova Williams looks at the discrepancy for the Economic Policy Institute

While I’m discussing risk, could it be that the NCAA and others believe it is risky to give certain students money? Just examine the composition of college athletes versus Ph.D. students. These students look very different and people may, consciously or unconsciously, think these students won’t act responsibly with their money. Clemson University head coach Dabo Swinney suggested that football players are not starving since they have money for cars and tattoos. But it shouldn’t matter how workers spend the money they earned from their employer. Should we start checking how Ph.D. students spend their salaries? How about college football coaches like Dabo?


“Deaths of despair”
Nicholas Kristof grew up in the working-class community of Yamhill, in rural Oregon, and went on to become a decorated foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times. He recently returned to Yamhill, where middle-class jobs have been replaced by drugs and an epidemic of early “deaths of despair.” Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn report

We have deep structural problems that have been a half century in the making, under both political parties, and that are often transmitted from generation to generation. Only in America has life expectancy now fallen three years in a row, for the first time in a century, because of “deaths of despair.” “The meaningfulness of the working-class life seems to have evaporated,” Angus Deaton, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, told us. “The economy just seems to have stopped delivering for these people.” Deaton and the economist Anne Case, who is also his wife, coined the term “deaths of despair” to describe the surge of mortality from alcohol, drugs and suicide.

The full article is well worth a read, and ties painfully in with our number of the day below. 

Plenty of jobs, but not enough good ones

The national unemployment rate is a helpful, but incomplete, metric to measure the health of our labor market. While the current 3.5% rate is among the lowest on record, many workers are trapped in low-wage work that doesn’t make ends meet. Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman of the Brookings Institution have more on the more than 50 million Americans getting by on the labor market’s scraps: 

In a recent analysis, we found that 53 million workers ages 18 to 64—or 44% of all workers—earn barely enough to live on. Their median earnings are $10.22 per hour, and about $18,000 per year. These low-wage workers are concentrated in a relatively small number of occupations, including retail sales, cooks, food and beverage servers, janitors and housekeepers, personal care and service workers (such as child care workers and patient care assistants), and various administrative positions.

Number of the Day
26,000 – The number of suicides that could have been prevented after the 2009 unemployment spike during the Great Recession had each state’s minimum wage been $2 higher. (Source: NPR)