Sunday, September 20, 2015

MassBudget: Large gains in health coverage, some growth in incomes, big challenges remain

MassBudget analysis of this week's US Census data release

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.

Large gains in health coverage, some growth in incomes, big challenges remain

With the release this week of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we see strong evidence that the Affordable Care Act is working. More than 8 million people who had been without health insurance were able to get coverage in 2014, leading to the largest drop in decades in the percent of people without coverage. While Massachusetts already led the nation, even here 28,000 more people have become insured. This expansion of health care security will directly improve the lives of individuals and families across the Commonwealth and across the nation. The Affordable Care Act also saves our state money by providing federal funding for Medicaid costs previously paid by the state.

[For MassBudget's full analysis of the recent Census releases, please click HERE.]

The census also reports that incomes in Massachusetts increased. And that child poverty declined for the first time since 2008. But we have a long way to go. Incomes are barely growing across the country and more than one in five children nationally (and more than one in seven in Massachusetts) lived in poverty in 2014.

While it is clear that our state and nation face real challenges, the new Supplemental Poverty Measure provides important evidence of the effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps), Social Security, and other supports that help lower income families and individuals pay for basic necessities. Census data show that these government efforts have lifted tens of millions of people above the poverty level. The national EITC and Child Tax Credit, for instance, combined to lift roughly 10 million people out of poverty in 2014, including more than 5 million children. In Massachusetts, we have taken important steps in the last year - raising the minimum wage and increasing the EITC. But on both of those issues, and many others, there is much more that can be done to make sure that everyone who works in our Commonwealth earns enough to make ends meet.

For our complete analysis, please click HERE.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

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