Poverty

Third and State This Week: Insurance Exchanges, Marcellus Drilling Impact Fee and Unemployment Benefits

This week, we blogged about a state legislative hearing on structuring insurance exchanges, 11 things to hate about the state Senate drilling impact fee bill, the fine print on a compromise reached to continue federal extended unemployment benefits to 45,000 Pennsylvanians, and more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On health care, Intern Emma Lowenberg has a nice summary of a Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee informational meeting this week that featured a presentation on how Massachusetts structured its state health insurance exchange and what Pennsylvania can learn from it as it moves toward creating its own.
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Sharon Ward blogs about the top 11 things to hate about the state Senate drilling impact fee bill.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Stephen Herzenberg takes a closer look at the compromise reached in the Pennsylvania Legislature last week that allowed 45,000 unemployed workers (and another 90,000 through the end of the year) to continue receiving extended federal unemployment benefits.
  • Finally, on poverty, Chris Lilienthal passes on an update from Community Legal Services in Philadelphia on a class action lawsuit that is proceeding on behalf of 359,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who are blind, disabled or elderly and saw a cut in early 2010 to a modest state benefit.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Class Action Lawsuit Proceeds over Benefit Cuts for 359,000 Low-Income Pennsylvanians

Posted in:

In February 2010, more than 359,000 low-income Pennsylvanians unable to work because of a disability, blindness or age were dealt a blow when a modest monthly state benefit was cut.

These Pennsylvanians receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment of no more than $674 per month. In addition to this federal benefit, they receive a state-funded payment called the State Supplementary Payment (SSP).

In February 2010, the state benefit was cut from $27.40 per month for an individual (in most cases) to $22.10. This may not seem like a big cut, but as Michael Froehlich at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia notes:

To SSI recipients, this reduction in their income was significant.  The combined SSI and SSP monthly amounts of $696.10 for an individual now equal less than 78% of poverty.  For many SSI recipients, the reduction in SSP meant a missed meal, a medical co-pay that could not be met, or a paratransit ride that could not be taken.

In November, Community Legal Services along with the law firm Dechert LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare alleging that the Department broke the law by cutting the SSP benefit without first seeking public comment.

Fasting for Pennsylvania's Most Vulnerable

Fast for PA's VulnerableAs the state budget debate enters its final weeks, Harrisburg faith leader Stephen Drachler is abstaining from solid foods to draw attention to the impact of budget decisions on Pennsylvania's most vulnerable — children, seniors, people with disabilities and families living in poverty.

Hard Times Generation: Homeless Kids

In case you missed it, CBS's 60 minutes ran a truly heartbreaking segment this Sunday on homeless kids. Take a break at some point today and watch the 13-minute segment.

Syndicate content