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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

CBPP Study: Government Programs have significantly reduced poverty

Hat tip to geotenn for his post on E.J. Dionne's WaPo article, "In Defense od Success: Government Really Can Lessen Poverty".

But I'll skip right to the source. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently released a series of studies showing the benefits of several government programs.

New Series of Reports Examines Research Findings

Public benefit programs cut the number of poor Americans nearly in half (from 58 million to 31 million) and dramatically reduce the severity of poverty for those who remain poor, while providing health coverage to tens of millions of people who otherwise would be uninsured, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The first set of reports, issued today, cover Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), food and nutrition programs, the Supplemental Security Income Program for the elderly and disabled poor, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Each report includes state-by-state data on the number of people assisted by that program. A separate Center report issued today examines the combined impact of the nation’s system of public benefit programs. Forthcoming reports will cover areas such as housing, child care, and child support enforcement.

Poverty Cut Nearly in Half by Public Benefit Programs

Research and data show that the U.S. system of public benefits — including programs targeted on low-income Americans (such as food stamps, Medicaid, and the EITC) as well as universal social insurance programs (such as Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance) — have helped make millions of Americans healthier and more economically secure.
When people experience crises such as job loss or disability, these programs can cushion them against deep poverty. When people have low earnings or little or no health insurance, these programs can supplement their incomes and provide health care coverage. And when people reach retirement age, these programs provide retirement and health security.

Taken together, these programs lift 27 million people out of poverty. The programs also reduce the severity of poverty for those who remain poor; they lift the average family income of those who are poor from 29 percent of the poverty line to 57 percent of the poverty line. Through Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP, the programs also provide health insurance to tens of millions of people who otherwise would lack health insurance.

You can read the rest of the press release at CPBB's website - it's too long to post here.

But, I do want to post a snippet from the Medicaid/S-CHIP report:

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the percentage of low-income children who are uninsured has fallen by more than one-third since 1997. During this period, SCHIP was established, and numerous states acted to make it simpler for children to enroll in Medicaid (see Figure 1). This improvement in coverage for low-income children is due entirely to higher enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP; private insurance coverage for children has been slipping since 1999.

Recall that S-CHIP developed out of a bill first introduced in 1996 by Senator John Kerry (the Healthy Children, Family Assistance Health Insurance Program). And this year Kerry has introduced a bill to expand S-CHIP, the KIds Come First Act (S. 114). "Kids First" would result in 11 million more children having health insurance coverage, covering kids in families up to 300% of the poverty line.

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