Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

The working parent of a Medicaid-eligible child in Arkansas can get Medicaid for herself only if her income is less than 16 percent of the federal poverty level (that’s Nigeria-level income), while in Wisconsin she can get Medicaid if her income is up to 200 percent of the poverty line (that’s one-third of American households). An adult Medicaid recipient can get eyeglasses in Texas but not in Oklahoma; Tennessee provides one pair of glasses after cataract surgery, while in Utah the only Medicaid adults who can get eyeglasses are pregnant women. In a Massachusetts Medicaid family, a child can get a filling in any tooth, but his mom can get a filling only in her twelve front teeth, not in her molars. Between 2010 and 2012, she would have been out of luck entirely, because state budget cuts eliminated most adult dental benefits altogether. 33 And on and absurdly on. As with TANF, how you fare is an accident of time and place.

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