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An area of Detroit. Photo: Corbis via Getty Images

There can be an implicit racial divide in efforts to soften Medicaid work requirements for people who would have a hard time finding a job, Emily Badger and Margot Sanger-Katz report for NYT's The Upshot.

The details: Michigan wants to add work requirements to its Medicaid program, but it's considering an exemption for people who live in areas with a particularly high unemployment rate.

  • The idea is well-intentioned: If there aren't many jobs available in a particular area, it's sort of unfair to penalize people for not working.
  • But, as Badger and Sanger-Katz point out, that would have the effect of exempting largely white rural areas, but not urban areas like Detroit or Flint, which have a higher number of black residents.
  • Those cities are part of counties where suburban employment drives down the overall unemployment rate, even though work is still hard to come by for poor people in the cities themselves.

The key points:

  • "African-Americans who face racial discrimination in the job market are more likely to have a hard time finding work."
  • "And people who can’t afford cars and live where public transit is inadequate have a harder time. So do the poor with criminal records, or those without a high school diploma, or people with problems securing child care."

Speaking of Medicaid: The Lexington Herald-Leader (my hometown paper) takes a look at the legal challenges to Kentucky's work requirements, which are set to take effect July 1.

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

4 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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