Thursday, January 31, 2013

Broad Support for Medicaid Expansion in North Dakota

Expansion of Medicaid in North Dakota would bring health insurance coverage to between 20,500 and 32,000 uninsured people.


HB 1362 is a stand alone bill to provide funding for Medicaid expansion to a stand-alone bill. The following groups provided testimony in favor of Medicaid Expansion at a joint hearing of HB 1362:

North Dakota Department of Human Services

American Cancer Society in North Dakota

AARP North Dakota

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota

ND Catholic Conference

ND Chapter of the American Medical Association

ND Hospital Association

Mental Health America of North Dakota

ND Rural Behavioral Health Network

Family Voices of North Dakota 

North Dakota Economic Security and Prosperity Alliance (NDESPA), which includes support of the groups:
ND  Women’s Network

ND  Council on Abused Women’s Services

ND  Disabilities Advocacy Consortium

ND  Head Start Association

ND  Community Action Partnership

AARP North Dakota

Catholic Charities of North Dakota

American Association of University Women in North  Dakota

ND  Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

Childcare Resource & Referral

Mental Health America of North Dakota

Children’s Defense Fund in North Dakota

North Dakota Public Employees  Association
Prevent  Child Abuse of North Dakota

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Financial Securty for North Dakotans

Today the Center for Enterprise Development released state by state scorecards on financial security of residents. NDESPA is the Lead State Organization for the CFED Assets & Opportunities Scorecard and organized a press conference to make the public aware of the of how prevalent poverty is in North Dakota – in spite of the states prosperity – and to highlight some pieces of legislation that would help low and moderate income, working families, to build assets for the future.


28% of North Dakota Residents Have Almost No Savings to Cover Emergencies or Save for the Future

State Ranks 3rd Overall for the Financial Stability of its Residents

Washington, D.C. — While North Dakota’s booming economy and supportive policies lend to a system of financial security for the majority of residents, more than one in four North Dakota residents are living on the edge of financial disaster with almost no savings to fall back on in the event of a job loss, health crisis or other income-depleting emergency, according to a report released today by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). 

The 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard defines these residents as “liquid asset poor,” which means they lack adequate savings to cover basic expenses at the federal poverty level for just three months if they suffer a loss of stable income. Included in this group are a majority of North Dakota residents who live below the official income poverty line of $23,050 for a family of four, as well as many who would consider themselves middle class. Although a family of four would need just $5,762 in savings to meet basic needs for three months, growing numbers of middle class households in our state fall short of that amount.

Without savings, these families have limited hope of building a more prosperous future for themselves or their children, including saving for college, buying a home or setting aside money for retirement.  

“In order to cope with the recession’s continued impact, these families have had to prioritize today’s expenses over tomorrow’s goals,” said Andrea Levere, president of CFED. She called the findings “particularly disturbing given the ongoing budget talks in Congress that will likely result in further reductions in the social safety net and other programs that help low- and moderate-income people get on the their feet and start planning and saving for a better future.”

Published annually, the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard offers the most comprehensive look available at Americans’ ability to save and build wealth, fend off poverty and create a more prosperous future. The Scorecard explores how well residents are faring in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and assesses policies that are helping residents build and protect assets across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care and Education.

North Dakota ranks 3rd in the country overall in the ability of residents to achieve financial security. The Scorecard evaluates states across 53 measures within the five different issue areas. North Dakota holds the nation’s top rating in Financial Assets & Income, and has the lowest number of consumers with subprime credit (borrowers who are 90 day or more overdue on debt payments) and average credit card debt. Similarly, North Dakota is 1st in the nation in several measures in Housing & Homeownership, including the affordability of homes, housing cost burden of homeowners and delinquent mortgages loans. However, an area of concern for North Dakota is disparities in outcomes by race, with people of color falling far behind white North Dakotans. Disparities in unemployment and business ownership by race in North Dakota are the worst in the nation, and disparities in health insurance coverage by race are the second worst. North Dakotans of color are six times more likely to be unemployed and three times more likely to be uninsured than white North Dakotans. With a few key policy adjustments, North Dakota could lead the nation in all categories of financial security for residents.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

North Dakota lawmaker introduces legislation to drug test

Representative Dennis Johnson has introduced  House Bill 1385 to require drug testing of Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Despite his own assertion that is costs more than it save and may not be legal, he is moving forward. 

His proposal is modeled after Florida's law, which is currently tied up in court to determine constitutionality. As reported by Pew Charitable Trusts:
"But questions remain on the constitutionality of such measures and whether they really save states any money. As Stateline has reported, Florida last year passed the country’s most extensive welfare drug testing law that included requiring applicants to pay for the test themselves and get reimbursed if they test negative. The law was in effect for four months before it was challenged and it’s now working its way through the courts, During the four months that Florida had the law on its book, 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, The New York Times had reported, and because the state paid an average of $30 to reimburse for each test, the new law ended up costing the state an extra $45,780, the paper said."
Is this a reasonable debate to have for our state legislature? When there is ample evidence to prove the inefficacy of these programs, shouldn't we consider debating how to provide more support to those suffering addiction that isn't punitive?

Other sponsors of the bill are Representatives Brandenburg, Hofstad, N. Johnson, Kempenich, Pollert, and Senators Campbell, Larsen, and Sitte.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Important Meeting on Child Care in North Dakota

You are invited to a one hour meeting:

North Dakota
Children’s Investment Initiative Meeting
Wednesday January 16th
4:00 PM Brynhild Haugland in the state capitol building in Bismarck

A presentation by Sherry Wagner of Good Shepard Child Care Center on the challenges of providing child care in western North Dakota. The North Dakota Head Start Association will provide a presentation on Head Start challenges facing North Dakota providers. Finally, a Pre-K Presentation & Question and Answers.
 If you have any questions, please call Paul Ronningen, State Coordinator, Children’s Defense Fund North Dakota and NDESPA Partner at 400-1827.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cross-posted from Public Health Institute

Fiscal Cliff Deal Cuts SNAP-Ed, Critical Nutrition Program

January 02, 2013

“The last-minute political maneuvering by Congress to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’ has undercut a critical nutrition program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed). The Public Health Institute is extremely disappointed and concerned about the health impacts of this rushed decision on our most vulnerable population, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.

“The American Taxpayer Relief Act, passed Tuesday by the Senate and House of Representatives and sent to the president for his signature, tacked on an extension of major farm programs through fiscal 2013 in an effort to protect milk pricing. But the enormous down-to-the-wire pressure to prevent tax hikes for the middle class left little room for a substantive discussion of the fine print of the farm bill extension deal. In the process, SNAP-Ed, a federal/state partnership that supports nutrition education for persons eligible for food stamps, was slashed by one-third for 2013. Earlier versions of the Farm Bill had never included or considered cuts to SNAP-Ed, and this last minute cut was never vetted or approved by the Agriculture Committees.

“SNAP-Ed helps low-income Americans make healthy choices on a limited budget, reduces their risk of chronic disease and obesity, and optimizes the economic and nutritional value of SNAP benefits. SNAP-Ed programming has proven that investment in nutrition education can enable SNAP to effectively address the dual challenges of improving nutrition and food security among low-income populations. This funding cut to the program undermines and weakens a critical component of our nationwide efforts to promote healthy eating and prevent chronic disease just as investments to prevent obesity and promote healthy eating are beginning to show results.

“Prior to the fiscal cliff process, a reasonable farm bill package was being negotiated. Though imperfect, it reflected the input of farmers and rural America, anti-hunger advocates and the public health community. As the new Congress faces a reauthorization of the farm bill in September, political pressure and time constraints must not trump common sense and evidence: SNAP-Ed must have full funding restored and protected, ensuring that all Americans, particularly those who are most vulnerable, can make the healthiest decisions when feeding their families.”