PUBLIC BENEFITS


The center focuses on health care access, immigrants' access to services, food and nutrition, the state's eligibility and enrollment system, and TANF.

Recent Public Benefits Publications

CPPP Statement on HHSC's New Strategy for Enrollment in Public Benefits (12/21/2006)

Austin, TXâ€"Today, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced a new strategy for enrolling needy Texans in public benefits, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP), Food Stamps, and temporary cash assistance (TANF). Over four million low-income Texans rely on these services to meet their basic needs. F. Scott McCown, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said: “We applaud this new strategy. HHSC is moving in the right direction. Commissioner Hawkins and his team worked hard to learn from the pilot and make needed changes. We are particularly encouraged that HHSC will increase the number of permanent state staff and resume the integrated-eligibility pilot only when the necessary technology is in place. Still, the workload is growing, and the legislature needs to add more state staff.”

More Texas Children Eating Breakfast at School, but State Could Do More to Increase Participation and Federal Funds (12/7/2006)

According to a report released today by the national Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), 33,140 more Texas students have participated in the federally-funded school breakfast program since 2004. Yet despite these gains, millions of Texas school children still don’t take advantage of the program.

Answers to Summer Food Challenges: An Advocate’s Perspective (12/5/2006)

At the USDA Southwest Region's Task Force Meeting, Celia Hagert discussed the barriers involved in providing summer meals to children and the role of advocacy in helping communities overcome these barriers.

Advocates Want to Know: Why Were 3,800 Texas Medicaid Applicants Denied Benefits in First 3 Months of New Federal Policy? (12/1/2006)

Since July 2006, the federal government requires that states make U.S. citizens prove their status in order to receive Medicaid. Three months later, Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) data reveal that nearly 3,800 applicantsâ€"two-thirds of them childrenâ€"have been denied Texas Medicaid strictly for lack of citizenship documentation.

Important Update on New Medicaid Citizenship Documentation Requirements and Texas (11/30/2006)

Some recent media reports have erroneously stated that the new federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rules deny Medicaid coverage to newborns of “Emergency Medicaid” non-citizen mothers. In fact, the new federal law and rule did not change eligibility for Medicaid in any way. It is critical that Texas health care providers and social service agencies understand the correct policy so that (1) eligible U.S. citizens are not wrongfully denied Medicaid, and (2) health care providers do not incur avoidable uncompensated care. Providers and community-based organizations should also make certain that Texas Medicaid policies are being followed correctly in their facilities and communities, because these policies should minimize Medicaid denials and delays for U.S. citizens of all agesâ€" not just newborns. Please share this important information with your staff who work with Medicaid applications.

Outsourcing Issues and Concerns in Public Benefits Administration (11/30/2006)

Celia Hagert presented an overview of the concerns and issues raised by privatizing enrollment of public benefits before the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Health Care Briefing, University of Texas at San Antonio (11/17/2006)

Eva DeLuna Castro presented the latest on Texas health care--what happened to Medicaid, CHIP, and state-funded public health services in the 79th legislative session, and what work remains heading into the 80th--at a UTSA-Downtown breakfast briefing.

Making the Case for an Adequately Funded Eligibility System (11/14/2006)

Celia Hagert presented on the need for an adequately funded state eligibility system at the Funding State Services Conference held by the national Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Updating and Outsourcing Enrollment Public Benefits: The Texas Experience (11/13/2006)

Outsourcing was supposed to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars and improve services to clients, but so far, the state has not saved a penny in administrative costs. The children, elderly, and persons with disabilities who rely on these services have suffered through a frustrating enrollment process, been caught in long backlogs, and often been wrongly denied benefits. In May 2006, the state delayed further rollout of the system indefinitely and asked state staff to take over. This report shares the Texas experience.

New Report on Texas' Troubled Outsourcing Experiment Tells Cautionary Tale for Sister States (11/13/2006)

A report released today on Texas’ experiment with outsourcing enrollment in key health and human services tells a cautionary tale about the state’s attempt to modernize the system that determines eligibility for health care, food, and cash assistance benefits. Over four million low-income Texans rely on these services to meet their basic needs.

Presentations at the United Way of Metro Tarrant County's Pre-Legislative Health and Human Services Public Policy Forum (11/13/2006)

Celia Hagert and Tiffany Roper presented on outsourcing public benefits administration and privatizing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services at the United Way of Metro Tarrant County's public policy forum.

Immigrants and Food Stamps: Separating the Facts from the Fiction (11/7/2006)

Celia Hagert presented on immigrant access to food stamps at the Texas Association of Community Action Agencies' training for food stamp outreach subcontractors.

Texas Medicaid and CHIP Enrollment Update for Children’s Hospital Association of Texas (10/24/2006)

Anne Dunkelberg presented the latest on Medicaid and CHIP enrollment at a briefing on children's issues hosted by the Texas Pediatric Society and the Children's Hospital Association of Texas.

Proof of Citizenship for Medicaid: Tell Us Your Stories! (10/19/2006)

Federal law now requires that states make U.S. citizens prove their status to get Medicaid. If you, or someone you are helping, has had Medicaid delayed or denied because of this new requirement, we want to know. If you or your client need help getting the documents required, or are not sure what is required, we will try to help you, or connect you with the help you need. If you are an agency or health care provider and want to track how this law is affecting your clients or patients, we would be happy to have your input.

Texas Doing Right by its Kids on School Lunch: Austin American-Statesman (10/12/2006)

This week marks National School Lunch Week, a time to commemorate a program that makes it possible for every child in America to have a school lunch. It is also a time to celebrate the fact that Texas leads the nation in providing these healthy meals.

Medicaid and CHIP Update (10/10/2006)

This powerpoint provides the latest information on CHIP and Medicaid.

An Advocate’s Perspective: Texas Medicaid Reforms (10/9/2006)

CPPP presented this invited testimony related to Medicaid cost containment options before the Texas Health and Human Services Subcommittee, House Committee on Appropriations.

People Coming and Going at CPPP (09/28/2006)

September has brought exciting board and staff changes. Learn who's joined the board, who's rotated off, who's been promoted, and who just joined the CPPP team.

Welfare Reform Statements Miss the Mark: Austin Business Journal (09/22/2006)

Diane Rath, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission, is misguided in her statement that welfare reform has been “one of the most successful social reforms of the last 50 years” (Austin Business Journal, Sept. 8-14). We agree that it is preferable for families to workâ€"especially since families on welfare receive an average of less than $150 a month in cash assistance. However, in Texas, work alone is rarely enough to pull a former welfare family out of poverty.

Poverty Continues to Plague Texas (08/29/2006)

Today the U.S. Census released its latest numbers which find that for another year, Texas ranks towards the bottom in overall poverty, child poverty, elderly poverty, uninsured Texans, and the percent of people who receive cash assistance.

Katrina Series (08/29/2006)

CPPP research on resources to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the areas of food and housing, health care, cash assistance, and unemployment insurance and employment services.

Katrina One Year Later: What Has Happened and What Work Remains (08/28/2006)

Tomorrow, August 29, marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Just over 250,000 evacuees have made Texas their home. Learn what has happened over the past year and what work remains.

Now Texas Must Begin to Beat off its Poverty: Galveston County Daily News (08/28/2006)

Nearly one year ago, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast, wreaking havoc while exposing the vast poverty that pervades our nation. It lent a human face to a story of widespread economic hardship that is usually told by numbers and data, not images of human suffering. Hundreds of thousands of our Louisiana neighbors fled to Texas for dry land and a chance at a better life. According to a recent statewide survey, about 250,000 of these evacuees still live in Texas.

TANF at 10: Was Welfare Reform a Success in Texas? (08/22/2006)

Ten years ago today, Congress overhauled the nation’s welfare system with the promise of helping poor families become self-sufficient by replacing welfare with work. Known as “welfare reform,” the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant replaced the entitlement program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Caseloads have fallen 75% in Texas over the last decade, but has welfare reform been a success?

Want Welfare? Don't Count on Texas' New, Inadequately Staffed System for Help: Dallas Morning News (08/4/2006)

Most of us have never had to think about how families in need sign up for public help such as health care and food stamps. Right now, however, an important debate is brewing in the Capitol over the questionâ€"how should we sign people up for help?

CPPP Urges Comments on Medicaid Citizenship Rules (08/1/2006)

Until August 11, the federal government is accepting comments from organizations and individuals concerned about a new rule that requires U.S. citizens who apply for or receive Medicaid prove their citizenship and identity. This rule threatens to block or delay access to health care for many Texas citizens, including pregnant women and children in foster care. CPPP encourages you to submit your comments by following the attached form. Our comments are attached.

Staffing and Training Challenges in the Integrated Enrollment and Eligibility System (IE&E) (07/26/2006)

Celia Hagert delivered testimony before the Texas House Committee on Government Reform on the challenges faced by the state's privatization of social services.

Recent Trends in Texas Children's Medicaid and CHIP Coverage (07/26/2006)

Anne Dunkelberg delivered testimony before the Texas House Committee on Government Reform about the current state of Medicaid and CHIP.

Don’t Turn Off the Air on Texans (07/19/2006)

This summer, companies will disconnect electricity for many low-income Texans unless the Public Utility Commission acts tomorrow to pass an emergency rule. To learn more, read our letter to the Commission. Please add your voice to ours by e-mailing or calling the commissioners to show your support for the emergency rule.

CPPP Legislative Letter on Integrated Eligibility and Enrollment (07/19/2006)

Last week two groups of House Members wrote to HHSC Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins regarding continuation of the Texas Integrated Eligibility and Enrollment Services (IE&E) project. These letters express two competing views. In this letter to the legislature, CPPP offers a different perspective relating to inadequate staffing for the project.

HHSC Request for Proposals: Community Based Outreach and Application Assistance (07/18/2006)

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) released a Request for Proposals for Community Outreach and Assistance on June 6. CPPP wants to make sure that Texas community-based organizations are aware of this important opportunity. We believe that it is important that Texas organizations serving low-income workers and families, the elderly, and people with disabilities join forces to create robust networks capable of helping eligible Texans access the services they need--and helping keep them enrolled.

July 1: Proof of Citizenship Required for Medicaid, Federal Guidance Flawed (06/26/2006)

In just a few days, a new federal law will begin to change the way Texans apply for Medicaid and renew their coverage. On July 1, all U.S. citizens applying for Medicaid or renewing their Medicaid eligibility will have to prove their citizenship by presenting certain documentation. Texas has proposed a sensible approach to implementing the new requirements, but initial federal guidance could prevent prompt access to health care for new applicants, create a paperwork nightmare for the aged and disabled, and dramatically increase the state’s administrative costs.

Outsourcing Hurts the Poor: Austin American-Statesman (06/26/2006)

The state's attempt to change the way Texans in need get health care, food, and temporary cash assistance has been a disaster.

Texas Health Care: What Has Happened and What Work Remains (06/19/2006)

Do you want a user-friendly guide to understanding what happened to health care in the 2005 legislative session and where things stand leading into the next session? CPPP, in partnership with Methodist Healthcare Ministries, is pleased to release this new report.

Rocky Road for Children's Health Care (06/13/2006)

This past November, the state began changing the way Texans enroll in public services. From the beginning the system has been troubled, and children’s health care has been especially hard hit. The number of kids receiving health care through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program has dropped by over 108,000 since the new contractor took over.

Today is Hunger Awareness Day (06/6/2006)

Today is National Hunger Awareness Day, the grassroots movement to raise awareness about the hunger crisis in America. In Texas, it is a solemn reminder that we suffer the highest rate of “food insecurity” in the nation, with 16.4% of households at risk for hunger and 4.9% of households experiencing hunger â€" well above the national average of 11.4% (food insecure) and 3.6% (hungry).

Problems Enrolling in Public Benefits? (04/19/2006)

Texas is using a new system to sign up for or renew Food Stamps, Children’s Medicaid/CHIP, and TANF. Some people may be having problems getting benefits using the new system, or you may be helping someone who is having a problem signing up. CPPP is not a state or federal agency and we cannot sign you up for benefits, but we can tell you who to report your problem to...

TANF Reauthorization--Texas' Choice: The High Road or the Low Road? (04/18/2006)

As part of budget reconciliation, Congress recently reauthorized Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) after numerous short-term extensions. The reauthorization makes several programmatic changes while providing a minimal increase in child care funding. TANF reauthorization provides an opportunity for states to upgrade their TANF work-based programs to deliver better workforce services, engage more recipients in education and training, and improve outcomes. The question is what Texas can do to help families acquire skills and attain self-sufficiency.

Food Stamp Issues and Challenges (04/18/2006)

Celia Hagert presented invited testimony on food stamp changes at the federal level as well as food stamp access in the new integrated eligibility system.

Statement on HHSC’s Decision to Put Social Service Call Centers on Hold (04/7/2006)

The Center for Public Policy Priorities supports the difficult decision the Texas Health and Human Services Commission made Wednesday to delay for at least 30 days the next phase of a new system that uses privately run call centers to help people apply for food stamps, Medicaid, and TANF. Since the January launch of pilots in Travis and Hays counties, the new system has been marked by technical difficulties, staffing shortages, and inadequate training of private call center staff. These problems have delayed services to clients, caused thousands of children to lose their health insurance, and frustrated both clients and staff.

Three Congressional Threats to Texas Health Care: Issues to Watch and Speak Out On (04/7/2006)

Learn the latest on three issues in Congress that are threatening health care right now: the Fiscal 2007 budget resolution, the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization Act, and immigration bills.

CPPP's Comments on HHSC's Proposal to Develop a Medical System for Children in Foster Care (03/20/2006)

CPPP prepared comments in response to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's draft proposal to develop a medical system for children in foster care.

CHIP is Not Alone: Children's Medicaid Numbers Also Dropped Statewide (03/7/2006)

A CPPP analysis of new official Medicaid enrollment figures shows that problems with Texas' new partially-privatized benefit eligibility system are not limited to CHIP. Statewide, the number of children insured by Medicaid dropped for an unprecedented three consecutive months from November to February. The magnitude of the drop is also unprecedented, with nearly 79,000 fewer children enrolled in February 2006 than in November 2005. The state’s new benefit eligibility contractor assumed responsibility for processing new children’s Medicaid applications, along with CHIP, in November 2005.

The Latest Developments in Medicaid and CHIP (02/28/2006)

Anne Dunkelberg delivered three presentations: one providing an update on Medicaid and CHIP, another discussing lessons learned, and the other detailing the Texas Medicaid and the Breast And Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act.

Integrated Eligibility/Call Center Update (02/7/2006)

On January 20, the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) launched a three-month pilot of a new system for enrolling Texans in public benefits. The pilot is in Travis and Hays Counties and will test a new online application and the use of privately-run call centers to help people apply for Food Stamps, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF cash assistance). If the pilot is successful, the system will be expanded to other areas of the state on a geographic basis beginning in April. This Policy Page provides an overview of the new system, explains how HHS clients will be affected during the rollout, and suggests ways for nonprofit and community-based organizations to make the transition to the new system as smooth as possible for their clients.

Last Chance to Oppose Federal Medicaid Cuts (02/1/2006)

In what is expected to be a very close vote, the U.S. House will vote today, Wednesday, February 1, on budget reconciliation--whether to cuts billions in essential services. There is still time to call 1-800-426-8073 (courtesy of American Friend’s Committee) and ask to speak with your representative’s office. If the lines are busy, please be patient and try again, or visit &&http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/fyi/fyi.htm to find contact information for your Congressional representative.

Feb. 1: U.S. House to Decide Once and For All Whether to Cut Billions in Services (01/25/2006)

On Wednesday, Feb. 1, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a budget reconciliation bill that would cut billions of dollars from Medicaid, child support enforcement, child care, foster care, Medicare, disability assistance, student loans, and other vital services for families to help fund $70 billion in new tax cuts. The reconciliation bill would also reauthorize the federal welfare block grant (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) through fiscal year 2010, but with changes to the program that could hurt Texas. Act now to oppose the budget cuts!

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