Home Care Reform’s Outcome a Surprise

Medicaid pays for care for six out of 10 nursing home residents. To reduce the program’s costs, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) encouraged states to expand the care that people over 65 can receive in their homes or through community organizations. The hope was that they would delay or – even better for them – avoid moving into a nursing home if they had easier access to medical and support services. Many states historically did not use Medicaid funding to pay for home care. The ACA’s Balancing Incentive Payments Program required the 15 states that chose to participate in the reform, including Nevada, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and New York, to increase spending on home and community care to half of…

June 2, 2020

Moms of Kids with Disabilities Get Help

Finding child care is difficult for any working parent. It is an even bigger challenge when the child has a disabling condition. About 1.2 million children under the age of six in the United States are disabled. A new study suggests that federal child care programs may be helping to keep their mothers employed either by meeting their need for care through programs like Head Start or by subsidizing their child care expenses. These supports are particularly important to low-income, single mothers in precarious financial situations. Preschool children with disabilities were actually more likely to have regular care – at least 10 hours per week – than children without disabilities. And although disabled children’s care arrangements were more likely to…

May 28, 2020

How COVID-19 Spreads in Nursing Homes

The coronavirus has pulled back the curtain on longstanding problems in nursing homes. In 2014, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had reported that more than one in five seniors in skilled nursing facilities experienced “adverse events.” These included poor medical care, patient neglect, and inadequate infection control, which frequently sent residents to the hospital. Now, some nursing homes have become COVID-19 hotspots. This has contributed to disproportionate numbers of deaths among people over age 70, who may also have weakened immune systems that make them more susceptible to the virus or underlying medical conditions that increase their mortality rate.   Anthony Chicotel, a staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, discussed…

May 26, 2020

Lost Wealth Today vs the Great Recession

For older workers starting to think about retiring, the economic maelstrom the coronavirus set in motion is a reminder of that sinking feeling they experienced just over a decade ago. In 2008, the stock market plunged nearly 40 percent, accelerating the steep decline that was underway in U.S. house prices. The unfolding 2020 recession is playing out differently. But both downturns have one thing in common: Social Security as a stabilizing influence on older workers’ retirement finances. A 2011 study of the change in baby boomers’ finances during the Great Recession found that total wealth dipped by 2.8 percent, on average, between 2006 and 2010 for households between ages 51 and 56. The 2.8 percent decline in wealth at t…

May 21, 2020

The Profound Financial Pain of COVID-19

It was hard to miss the news last year that four out of 10 people couldn’t come up with $400 if they had an emergency. The coronavirus is that emergency – on steroids. A wave of new surveys asking Americans about their personal finances reveal the depth of a crisis that has suddenly befallen untold numbers of people. And the worst, economists say, is probably still ahead of us. As of last week, 36.5 million people had filed for unemployment benefits, and that doesn’t include some workers who were furloughed or have not yet been able to file their applications for benefits. The Federal Reserve said nearly 40 percent of people living in households earning less than $40,000 have lost…

May 19, 2020

Opioid Abuse Tied to Where People Live

In 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in northern Oklahoma detained one doctor charged with operating a pill mill that prescribed opioids to addicts for the simple reason that he presented “a danger to our community.” While mental illness and unemployment are familiar culprits in the opioid crisis sweeping the country, the environment that people live in – including the prevalence of unscrupulous doctors – is actually important as well. That’s one conclusion in a new study that found that people are more likely to become addicts if they move from an area with a relatively low level of prescription opioid abuse to a high-abuse area. The research looked at more than 3 million people on federal disability insurance (DI) –…

May 14, 2020

Estimate Your Unemployment Check Here

Florida’s unemployment office, after denying benefits to some 260,000 residents, said that it made a mistake. From Maine to California, laid-off workers scheme to outfox crashing websites or wait for hours on the phone to apply for benefits at state unemployment offices. Thirty million people have filed for unemployment benefits so far, and countless others are trying. Frustration is a way of life for millions of people desperately in need of money for essentials. If you’re curious about how much your benefit will be – when you eventually get through – or if you fear a layoff is in your future, Zippia has something for you. The job listing and career advice website has created a calculator that will provid…

May 12, 2020

Parents Cut Back Aid to Kids in Downturn

When the economy tips into a recession, as it is doing in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of whether parents will give financial help to their adult children could conceivably go either way. Parents looking for some peace of mind might throw a financial lifeline to their struggling or unemployed offspring. Or parents who’ve been providing some support might pull back. One study of how parents in the United States and Germany handled this dilemma found that they retrenched in both countries during the Great Recession. Parents are often an important source of support for their adult children. But between 2005 and the peak of the recession in 2009, the share of U.S. parents providing financial or in-kind…

May 7, 2020

Layoffs Fray Health Insurance Network

The majority of Americans who have health insurance – some 150 million workers – get their coverage through their employers. But this network has suddenly developed a big hole in the midst of a pandemic. The economic shutdown that is suppressing the coronavirus has thrown nearly 30 million people out of work – and taken away their health insurance. Millions more are expected to be laid off. About 10 percent of the U.S. population did not have health insurance in 2018, Kaiser’s most recent estimate. This share will certainly increase sharply, but how high it goes and how quickly the situation will improve is hard to predict, given all the uncertainties, said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform for…

May 5, 2020

Unexpected Retirement Costs Can be Big

Resourceful retirees usually weather the financial surprises that come their way. But a handful of unexpected health events can really hurt. The death of a spouse is at the top of the list. Net worth drops by more than $30,000 over a couple of years as retirees pay for the extraordinary medical and other expenses surrounding a spouse’s death. Two serious health conditions also deplete retirees’ assets: strokes and lung disease, which strike about one in five older Americans during their lifetimes, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study funded by the U.S. Social Security Administration that tracked changes in the finances of people 65 and over. Despite the presence of Medicare, a first-time stroke reduces a retired…

April 30, 2020

Fintech Lenders Discriminate Less

Do online financial companies give minorities a fair shake? Researchers and consumers have found some early evidence that this fast-growing segment of the financial industry – Fintech – may be mitigating, though not eliminating, the legacy of discrimination that has been widely documented in the brick-and-mortar mortgage industry. First came bank redlining, a conceptual line lenders drew around black neighborhoods. In a famous study, banks rejected black loan applicants more often than white borrowers with the same incomes. Lenders have also been found to discriminate by charging black borrowers higher interest rates for their mortgages. Discrimination took a different form when subprime lending invaded the mortgage market prior to the 2008 financial collapse. Commissions to subprime loan brokers gave them…

April 28, 2020

COVID-19 Could Increase US Inequality

A growing number of Americans can’t pay their rent, and the queues forming outside food banks hint at human need on the scale of the Depression. For Americans who were already living paycheck to paycheck prior to the pandemic, the $1,200 relief checks the government has deposited into their bank accounts are too little and came too late. Few are being spared the financial fallout from the COVID-19 economic contraction. But economists predict the damage being done to working and middle class people will cause another surge in U.S. inequality, just as the previous recession did. The big unknown is whether this downturn, which is unfolding more violently than the previous one, will do even more damage to livelihoods and…

April 23, 2020