Tag Archives: recipients

S.C. Gov. Haley wants to link food stamps to jobs

Gov. Nikki Haley will not support an earlier proposal to keep food stamp recipients from buying junk food, instead backing an idea requiring people in three counties to show they are working or looking for a job to get the benefits.

Haley’s proposal will have to be approved by the federal government. It would be limited to food stamp recipients in Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties for now.

The requirement to work or be looking for a job is part of fighting obesity in South Carolina, just like the governor’s original idea to limit food stamp purchases to healthier foods, maintains South Carolina Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller, who agency runs the food stamp program in the state.

“There is a strong correlation between unemployment and obesity. Food stamp recipients, in particular, the longer they receive food stamps, the higher their BMI,” Koller told The Post and Courier of Charleston.

BMI is body mass index, a formula of height and weight that health care providers use to determine obesity.

But advocates for the poor say Haley’s latest proposal may not be any better than her initial idea.

“It breaks my heart that those of us working on removing barriers have to deal with others putting up more barriers. Why do we keep thinking that they’re not good people? And that’s what we’re saying if we say you’ve got to prove you’re looking for a job,” Sue Berkowitz, director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, told The State newspaper.

Haley’s original proposal made in February 2011 would have prevented people from using benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP — to buy candy, soda, chocolate and chips. Haley’s administration said they backed off that idea after public meetings across the state.

The new “SNAP Work 2 Health” proposal would apply to everyone getting food stamps in the three counties. People with children under age 6 would be exempt.

The counties were chosen because they have both the highest unemployment rates and obesity rates in South Carolina, Koller said.

Baldwin criticizes Walker letter on Medicaid

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is criticizing Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s letter telling Medicaid recipients they’re likely to lose coverage at the end of the year.

Walker’s administration was sending the letters to an estimated 92,000 BadgerCare recipients starting on Sept. 23, informing them know that they or someone in their family may be earning too much to remain on the program.

Walker, who this week is in D.C. for to raise money for his political ambitions, has dramatically reduced BadgerCare while refusing to involve his administration in the expansion of health care coverage and benefits provided for under the Affordable Care Act.

Baldwin says in a letter to Walker that he must do more to communicate with those who are losing Medicaid coverage and must look for insurance through the new marketplace, or exchange, under the Affordable Care Act.

She is calling on Walker to send an individualized, personal letter to anyone at risk of losing coverage. Baldwin also says Walker’s administration should also make phone calls and partner with other groups to work with those affected.

The following is the text of Baldwin’s letter to the governor: 

Dear Governor Walker:

America’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), presents opportunities for our state to strengthen the economic security of Wisconsin families and businesses. Our Midwestern neighbors have widely accepted these opportunities. Governors from both parties in Michigan, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota are supporting the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. All of these states are also working with the federal government to help establish a Health Insurance Marketplace. Rather than share this commonsense Midwestern approach, you chose not to take our state down the strongest path forward.

I am disappointed that you have broken with our state’s strong tradition of advancing health care reforms. First, you chose not to build a Wisconsin-made, state-based Health Insurance Marketplace for individuals and small businesses. Instead, you asked the federal government to do it.  That Marketplace will start open enrollment in the coming week on October 1, 2013, with coverage beginning January 1, 2014.

Second, our state could have seized the opportunity to strengthen our BadgerCare program through a federal partnership. Instead, you chose a path that covers fewer people at a higher cost to taxpayers. When compared with expanding BadgerCare under the ACA, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that your plan will cost state taxpayers $119 million more over the next two years to cover 85,000 fewer people.

Now it is time for you take responsibility for the path you have taken and help ensure that Wisconsin families and businesses receive the quality health coverage that they deserve.

This week, an estimated 92,000 Wisconsinites will receive letters from your office alerting them that someone in their household will be dropped from the BadgerCare coverage they have relied on. Surely receiving your communication will create uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety for these families. A number of questions will arise: ‘Who in my household will lose coverage?’; ‘Will I be able to afford health insurance premiums in the new Health Insurance Marketplace?’; ‘How can I enroll in coverage?’ It is my hope that your office takes responsibility for ensuring that these hard-working Wisconsin families access and maintain health insurance coverage. This commitment must go beyond a simple letter in the mail addressed to no one in particular.  It is my hope that your administration will engage in more personal, direct and effective outreach, up to and including administering phone calls; partnering with county governments serving these citizens; and working collaboratively with community organizations and federal and local officials in a strong effort to provide enrollment assistance in the new Marketplace.

Further, I am calling on you to immediately provide individualized communications to Wisconsinites at risk of losing BadgerCare coverage. Your letters to be sent this week read: “If anyone in your household is affected by the change in income limits and you are still enrolled in BadgerCare Plus, you will get another letter in December letting you know exactly who is affected and how their eligibility will change.” A personalized message in December does not qualify as timely notice. As you are well aware, Wisconsin families that do not enroll in Marketplace coverage by December 15, 2013 will lose health insurance coverage beginning on January 1, 2014. These families cannot afford to pay for any shortcomings you are creating in not seamlessly moving these Wisconsinites from BadgerCare to the new Marketplace.

Adding to the confusion for these families, you have been calling for full repeal of the ACA.  I find this especially troubling given the fact that your stated effort to cut the uninsured rate in Wisconsin relies on “Obamacare” to provide coverage to the uninsured, including the 92,000 you are kicking off of BadgerCare. As you must know, repealing, defunding or delaying the ACA would leave these Wisconsinites without access to coverage. They deserve better than the uncertainty you are offering.

These Wisconsin residents’ economic security has been put at risk by your BadgerCare decision. Instead of playing political games with people’s health care and calling for repealing, defunding or delaying the ACA, it is my sincere hope that you will lead on the law’s implementation because you have a shared responsibility to make sure it works for Wisconsin.  The people of our state are tired of politicians playing political games with their health care security. They want bipartisan action and solutions that work for our state. It’s time to move health care reform forward and put progress for Wisconsin ahead of politics.

I look forward to working together on this shared responsibility.