Medicaid, Racism, and the Post-Standard (Part IV)


The single most-searched question on my blog is about how long people receive Welfare.  People ask about third-generation Welfare recipients.  I ask if there are any or is that an urban myth?  People ask about poor people receiving Welfare for thirty years.  The Dept. of Social Services (DSS) web site says that you only can get “Temporary Assistance”—that’s what Welfare is actually called—for five years.  What happens to poor people after that?  When I was on Welfare in the 1970’s, I was told that the average is eighteen months.  People need help for a little while then pull themselves back up.  So how long do people get Welfare?

DSS Commissioner David Sutkowy says he hasn’t got a clue—he’s not asking.  Herewith Commissioner Sutkowy’s message to me:

Sources of data:

The data provided comes from various sources, including;

Applications for assistance (the demographic data in #1 is taken directly for applications for assistance.  It reflects what applicants write on their applications. 

The 2011 County Budget book

Question 1.      Demographics of people receiving Medicaid/Welfare:  Sex, race, age, marital status, geographical area, level of education.

            Answer: The following computer runs reflect the information we have.  This

information is self-reported from the individuals’ application for assistance. 

Geographic information reported is by zip code. For ethnic status, applicants can describe themselves by more than one code.

[The links to the spread sheets would not reproduce. ACW]

Question 2.     How much is in the Onondaga County budget for direct Medicaid and Welfare payments?  How much is paid by the state or federal government?  What is the average monthly payment to a person on Welfare?

Answer:  2011 County budget included $94 million for the local share of Medicaid. We don’t budget the federal and state shares but the 2010 actual gross Medicaid cost for our County was $693 million. 2011 budget included $19.7 million gross and $8.7 million local for Safety Net Assistance. 2011 budget included $21.9 million gross and $9.9 million local for Family Assistance.

The 2011 budget estimated  an average cost per Safety Net case at $490/month, and the average cost per Family Assistance case at $540/month.

Question 3.     On average, how long does a recipient receive Welfare?

Answer:  Our data system cannot collect this information.

Question 4.     Are Welfare/Medicaid payments made to (a) healthy single men; (b) non-citizens; (c) drug addicts; (d) people with criminal records (felony or misdemeanor)?

Answer:  Eligibility for assistance is generally based only on household income and resources.  All US citizens are eligible, along with legal aliens.  The only category listed above not eligible is illegal aliens.  Eligibility criteria is established by the federal and state governments.

  1. How have the figures changed over the past five years?

Answer:  The Medicaid and Food Stamp caseloads have risen steadily over the past five years.  The Welfare caseload had declined steadily from 1996 through 2008.  However, with the downturn in the economy, that caseload has risen about 25% since that time.  [End of message]

My comment:  The number I would most like to call your attention to is $490.  That’s what a poor person on Welfare has to live on for a month.  Try it.  That’s roughly the equivalent of one trip to the doctor, including transportation, tests and prescriptions.  We are putting all our money into sickness, not the minimum necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to share your thoughts on all of this with Commissioner Sutkowy, he can be reached at “Sutkowy, David (DFA3-A31)” [For reasons unknown to me, Mr. Sutkowy’s email address is being erased by the computer.  Send your messages to me and I’ll forward them.]

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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One Response to Medicaid, Racism, and the Post-Standard (Part IV)

  1. Ryan Rhea says:

    pretty good insights. I’ll be sure to stop by and read more from you. thanks.

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