Searching For Work That Pays: 2004 Northwest Job Gap Study

The Northwest Job Gap Study calculates a basic family budget for different family structures. Based on this “living wage,” the study then estimates the number and proportion of job openings that provide a sufficient wage to support and individual or a family’s basic needs without relying on public assistance.

Hunger In South Dakota: And What State Leaders Can Do About It

Low-income families in South Dakota are struggling. They are struggling to find jobs that pay a living wage. They are struggling to pay rising utility, housing, and health care costs. And, they are struggling with the basic task of putting food on their tables. This study, the first of its kind, examines the food security of 403 poor and very poor South Dakota families. The participating households, most of whom are clients of Head Start and Native American, answered 33 questions about their food security and additional questions about their involvement with the Food Stamp Program. The study found that for many of these families food insecurity is not a short-term emergency, but a long-term continuing struggle.

Setting the Tone for Health Care Cuts: Governor Martz and Montana’s Public Health Care Redesign

In July 2003, Montana Governor Judy Martz appointed the state’s Public Health Care Advisory Council, kicking off a health care redesign process that could affect the health and well-being of all Montanans. The advisory council is working with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services on recommendations to the 2005 Legislature regarding Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Mental Health Services Plan. This report compares the rhetoric to the truth about publicly funded health care.

Confronting Barriers: Stories of Oregon Food Stamp Applicants

Many Oregon residents have lost access to public programs because of recent deep budget cuts, including major cuts to public health care programs. The Food Stamp Program is increasingly important as many Oregon families face difficult times and increased medical costs. In this report, several food stamp applicants describe their experiences and the barriers they faced when applying for food stamps. This report also includes some initial survey results.

Pull the Plug on Idaho Power’s Rate Increase: Idaho Families Need Rate Relief, Not Rate Hikes

In October 2003, Idaho Power filed a rate increase application with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Idaho Power’s request, as the PUC staff determined, is a gross overestimate of its actual needs – over $70 million more than Idaho Power could justify! Idaho families are struggling to make ends meet and pay power bills today. Idaho Power’s rate proposal would leave even more low-income families out in the cold.

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Not Even Pennywise: Premiums Will Harm Washington’s Children, Economy

Despite the enormous benefits Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide to Washington State’s families and economy, the Legislature is considering charging premiums to many children in these programs. The proposed premiums will wreck havoc on the lives of vulnerable children, cost the state more in the long run, and harm Washington’s economy. This report provides an overview of the important contributions Medicaid and CHIP make to the economy of and quality of life in Washington State, and the devastating impacts of premiums.

Keep the Heat On: Idaho Utility Regulations Threaten the Health and Safety of Idaho Families

Economic conditions in Idaho are squeezing low-income families from every direction. Unemployment continues to rise and many of Idaho’s families live in poverty. The rates of personal bankruptcy and lack of health insurance are also increasing. Skyrocketing energy costs are an unbearable burden when added to these economic realities. Energy consumers who turn to the state for help find that the Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) budget is woefully inadequate, and that consumer protections for low-income consumers are not strong enough.

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Not Our Job: Employers Abandon Health Care Coverage, Leaving Washington Families and the State with the Bill

As large businesses cut health benefits or shift costs to employees, more and more workers must forego coverage. Employment is losing its status as the gateway to health care for working families, who must use publicly funded coverage or go without entirely. When employers leave their workers – especially low-wage employees – without coverage, they are maximizing their profits at the expense of workers and the state. Washington State has the power to level the playing field for working families. Lawmakers should tell large companies that making an appropriate health insurance investment is a condition of doing business in Washington State.

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Washington Lags Behind Other States in Corporate Disclosure and Accountability

States spend billions of dollars every year on tax breaks for businesses. A growing number of states require companies to disclose certain information on the tax breaks they have received. Disclosure allows states to evaluate the costs and benefits of tax breaks. States can monitor tax breaks by looking at job creation levels, job retention, wage bands, and benefits. With disclosure legislation in place, Washington legislators and private residents will have the information needed to change those tax breaks that are not working as intended and support those that are.

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Don’t Lien on Me: Why the State’s Medical Indigency Care Program is Unhealthy for Idahoans

Health insurance is the most important vehicle for gaining access to health care services. It makes a substantial difference in the type of services people are able to obtain. The consequences for people without health insurance are serious: one study found that the uninsured are almost six times more likely than the insured to have postponed health care for a serious condition because they couldn’t afford it. Other studies focusing on health outcomes for uninsured individuals found that they are more likely to die in the hospital, implying that they may postpone care until it is too late.

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