May 16, 2018

The unintended racial bias in relaxing Medicaid work requirements

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.

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 β€” while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

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Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.