For Many In Mass., Economic Struggle Is Still Acute

Published February 7, 2011

It’s the “reluctant consensus” that our economy is slowly improving, but new data show those on Massachusetts’ lower end of the income spectrum are seeing few of those green shoots of recovery.

More Insurance Waivers

The number of state-approved health-insurance waivers jumped last year, from 44 percent in 2009 to 63 percent in 2010. People apply for these waivers because they can’t afford insurance, which is required by Massachusetts law. (About the same number of people applied for waivers, but state regulators were more lenient in 2010.)

To the Boston Globe, “state officials said they excused the majority of waiver applicants in large part because of the protracted sour economy, which made insurance unaffordable for more people.”

Most uninsured people don’t apply for a waiver and have to pay a tax penalty.

More On Food Stamp Rolls

The news service Stateline is out today with a report on food stamp rolls, which topped 40 million people nationally last year. Massachusetts fared slightly better than the rest of the country, but the number of state residents using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increased 11 percent from November 2009 to November 2010.

It’s Also Budget (Cutting) Season

Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed spending plan would cut child-services programs and raise doctor co-pays for low-income patients, among other efforts to close a looming budget gap.

Nationally, the Globe’s Adrian Walker today notes President Obama’s proposed budget would slash funding for Community Service Block Grants, which fund social-services agencies such as Action for Boston Community Development, or ABCD.

Update: The Globe reports the state’s 11 Democratic members of Congress have all signed a letter asking Mr. Obama to leave the community grants alone during the budget process.