Trapped in America's Safety Net

Trapped in America's Safety Net

One Family's Struggle

Andrea Louise Campbell

Southern states adopted Medicaid slowly, and Arizona waited until 1982. Eligibility varies dramatically as well, meaning that an individual at a given income or asset level qualifies for a program in one state but not another. And what counts as income and assets differs too. Moreover, the size and scope of benefits vary dramatically, from the size of monthly checks in the cash programs to the scope of covered medical benefits in Medicaid. Take-up rates—the proportions of eligible people actually enrolled in each program—also vary across states. The result of all these differences is considerable variation in adequacy: in the proportion of poor people who actually receive benefits and in the ability of those benefits to meet basic human needs.

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