For the needy in Massachusetts, meager benefits aren’t enough

Advocates for low-income residents of Berkshire County, Massachussets, told the state’s top welfare official that current benefits do not meet families’ needs: they fail to pay rent for private housing and often do not cover necessities such as the costs of car ownership.  Advocates call the meager benefits “unlivable, unfair, and dangerous.”

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House Democrats pass bill to raise minimum wage

The House gave initial approval to a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage to $9 by 2016.  Minimum wage would thereafter be tied to inflation.  The move is intended to increase the earning and purchasing power of low-income Americans, but debate still rages over potential negative effects.  Some critics claim that such measures will not reduce poverty and may hurt small-business owners.

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The doctor will see you…never

There are only two primary care physicians within one Bronx zip code, and they work at a health center that serves mostly the working poor and the uninsured.  Many patients have not seen a doctor in years.  With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, many of them will receive health insurance; however, experts voice concern that without enough physicians to meet the new demand, many citizens will still go with health needs unmet.  Photo credit:  James Keivom

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Massachusetts welfare requirements waived for ‘too many’ people

A new state report finds that a single parent living in Massachusetts with two children needs to earn at least $65,880 a year to cover basic food, housing, transportation and child care needs.  Moreover, the value of many welfare programs has actually decreased from previous years because those values have not been adjusted for inflation.  The state’s senate president issued a call for welfare reform to ensure that the neediest receive the help they need.   

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A Novel Look at Racial Health Disparities: The Interaction Between Social Disadvantage and Environmental Health

The objective of this study was to find out if social disadvantage increases vulnerability to the health effects of environmental hazards. The research specifically examined whether one’s race modifies the association between lead content in blood and blood pressure and whether socioeconomic status plays a role in this modifying effect. The results showed that social disadvantages intensifies the negative health effects of lead and provides evidence that social and environmental factors should be addressed together to eliminate health disparities.

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