Posts by chris lilienthal

A Recovery for Some But Not All

As Mark Price noted yesterday, there has been a shocking rise in income inequality since 2009.

Public Benefit Programs Encourage Work

A few weeks ago, Sharon Ward explained the many problems with a report from the Cato Institute suggesting it's great to be poor in the United States. Today, Sandy Strauss and Peter Zurflieh, the co-chairs of a coalition working to improve the lives of Pennsylvania's low-income families, have a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review setting the record straight about the Cato study. They do a nice job of explaining how public benefits encourage low-income people to go to work and keep at it:

Public benefit programs don't discourage work. Both SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid, for example, offer work incentive deductions from earned income to encourage work. In 2011, 86 percent of low-income children receiving Medicaid or CHIP were in working families. More than half of able-bodied adults in households with children receiving SNAP work.

Reports like Cato's unfairly portray low-wage earners and persons living in poverty as lazy and waiting for the next government handout. Nothing could be further from the truth.

How Much Should You Be Making?

The Economic Policy Institute took the Labor Day weekend to remind us that American workers should be paid more than they are.

EPI has a handy online tool — based on their project inequality.is — that shows how much you would be making if wages had kept pace with productivity, a key indicator of an economy working for all.

Elise Gould explains at the EPI blog, Working Economics:

The State of Working PA This Labor Day

Coming on the heels of a day when thousands of fast food workers in 50 U.S. cities walked off the job to protest low wages, the Keystone Research Center is out with a report showing there is ample reason for discontent among Pennsylvania workers.

Separating Fact from Fiction on Nutrition Assistance

Check out this short video separating fact from fiction in the ongoing debate over nutrition assistance for low-income Americans.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "offers nutritition assistance to millions of eligible low-income Americans," the narrator explains. "The program started in the '70s, and teams of doctors proved that it dramatically reduced hunger in America. Ninety-five percent of federal SNAP funding goes to food."

The video goes on to explain that 40% of households receiving SNAP benefits have at least one working person, and that it is a lifeline to those out-of-work and their families, as they look for a job. Enrollees typically receive benefits for eight to 10 months, and the average benefit equals $1.49 per meal per day. For many people, SNAP benefits do not last through the end of the month.

Health Law Saves Consumers by Requiring Insurers to Spend Premium Dollars on Medical Care

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Medical Loss Ratio ExplainedA key reform in the Affordable Care Act requires health insurers to spend 80% to 85% of premium dollars directly on medical care or quality improvement expenses as opposed to other administrative costs, marketing, or profits. If an insurer does not meet the standard, it must provide rebates to consumers or businesses.

Nearly 1.8 Million in PA Will See Food Assistance Cut

SNAP helps nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children get enough to eat. All of them will see their benefits cut in November.Nutrition assistance is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and a powerful tool to help keep families out of poverty. Come November, this critical federal assistance will be cut, making it that much more difficult for 1.8 million Pennsylvanians to put food on the table for themselves and their families.

Morning Must Read: House Plan Would Cost 5 Million Americans Needed Food Assistance

Legislation before the U.S. House would eliminate about 5.1 million people from a federal program that provides nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families, according to a new report by the Health Impact Project, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The House-proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would undermine the ability of low-income households to feed their families and increase poverty, the researchers found.

Lifitng Millions of Americans Out of Poverty

Check out the following Off the Charts blog post from Arloc Sherman of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At a time when the U.S. House is advocating deep cuts to food assistance and other programs that help struggling families stay afloat, it is important to recognize just how much public safety net programs have helped keep people out of poverty in the United States.

House Derails Medicaid Expansion But the Fight Goes On

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The Pennsylvania House rejected an effort by Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) today to revive the Medicaid expansion before the Legislature breaks for its summer recess this week.