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Negotiators included a provision that would ensure there isn’t another fiscal crisis when Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills by October to keep the government funded into the next fiscal year.

House Republicans pushed the U.S. to the edge of a fiscal crisis because they wanted deep cuts in spending - but the budget was designed to appeal to enough Republicans and Democrats to get it through Congress and does hardly anything to address America’s debt problem. Read more»

Pay for public sector jobs such as those in healthcare and education, as well as 'frontline' or 'essential' workers, need to improve if we’re going to prepare for future economic challenges.

The federal response to mass unemployment and business closures due to COVID-19 helped fast-track the recovery - but the lasting effects of the pandemic on the labor force and how well prepared policy makers are to handle a potential recession or another pandemic is unclear. Read more»

After three years in the pandemic, when they were prohibited from dropping people from Medicaid rolls, Arizona officials have started to review recipients and drop those who no longer qualify. But they said they are working to steer people to other coverage.

Arizona and other states are once again free to verify that Medicaid enrollees are still qualified and cancel coverage if they’re not, and as many as 15 million Americans, including 7 million children, could lose the health coverage they relied on through the pandemic. Read more»

After three years in the pandemic, when they were prohibited from dropping people from Medicaid rolls, Arizona officials have started to review recipients and drop those who no longer qualify. But they said they are working to steer people to other coverage.

AHCCCS is encouraging recipients to make sure contact information is current and to keep an eye out for correspondence as Arizona begins purging people from pandemic-inflated Medicaid rolls this month, a process that could push more than 600,000 people off the plan. Read more»

Reproductive health experts across the country, especially those in the South, a region with high maternal mortality rates and the most abortion bans, agreed that the full spectrum of maternal health care needs improvement.

U.S. maternal mortality rates keep growing, an anomaly compared to other economically similar countries, and nine states - including Arizona - are waiting on approval from the CDC to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage to reduce the numbers. Read more»

While federal pandemic money was helpful, experts say the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the broader, longstanding problem of expensive and scarce child care.

States are spending more money and creating new incentives to ease the severe child care crisis, with most federal pandemic aid set to dry up in September. Read more»

Hospitals are trying to persuade federal officials to maintain multiple COVID-era policies beyond the emergency or work with Congress to change the law.

The Biden administration’s decision to end the COVID-19 public health emergency in May will institute sweeping changes across the health care system that go far beyond many people having to pay more for COVID tests. Read more»

States are using billions in federal relief money to improve mental health services in schools.

In response to a yearslong decline in the mental health of the nation’s children and teens, officials are using COVID-19 relief dollars and their own money to build support services to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and help students who are struggling. Read more»

Steve Kanner, a Hamilton High School counselor, emphasizes that a counselor’s role is to help students navigate their way through high school and meet personal goals.

Some of the pandemic relief funding from the federal government will expire later this year, and Arizona school advocates worry extra counselors brought on by schools using the funding may be let go if a way isn't found to keep the positions. Read more»

The pandemic widened accessibility by creating flexibility by how people access mental health care — including telehealth for patients on Medicaid.

As pandemic-era benefits end, some 600,000 Arizonans are set to be removed from the Medicaid rolls next year - a situation causing distress to many who are certainly at risk of being disenrolled and also those who may fall just over the income threshold to qualify for Medicaid. Read more»

According to a report from the Student Borrower Protection Center, 90% of Black and 72% of Latinx students take out loans to attend college, compared with 66% of white students.

The conservative majority of the Supreme Court appeared skeptical on Tuesday that President Joe Biden has the authority to forgive billions in student loan debt, but questions remain over whether the states that brought the challenge have the requisite standing to do so. Read more»

More than 41 million people purchased food with SNAP benefits last year, up from about 36 million in 2019, and the emergency allotments represented a huge inflow of federal funds to states.

In every state, participants in SNAP, commonly known as food stamps, face the loss of pandemic-related benefits in March - if they haven’t already lost them - and states, community groups and food banks are scrambling to help families cope. Read more»

Throughout the pandemic, families have turned to food banks for help. Harvesters, a private food bank, saw the amount of food distributed increase from 54 million pounds in 2019 to 65 million in 2020. In this picture, food is distributed at a drive-in in Kansas City, Kansas.

Forty million people in the U.S. are having difficulty affording household expenses, and a little more than 25 million people say they sometimes or often do not have enough to eat, reflecting Americans continuing struggle, made worse by the disappearance of pandemic relief. Read more»

Second-grader Winona Begaye uploads homework in her family’s vehicle near Piñon in this photo from 2020, when schools were closed by the pandemic and families without reliable internet had to drive to public hotspots to get their schoolwork. Federal officials called that a 'national teaching moment' highlighting the importance of broadband access.

The Treasury released $99.4 million in broadband funding to Arizona, money that officials said could bring broadband internet service to an estimated 127,807 households and businesses around the state. Read more»

Pushing up the deadline for disenrollment would require more staff, at a cost of around $16.7 million.

Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans are at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage over the next year because they are no longer eligible, and some state lawmakers are looking to speed up the disenrollment process. Read more»

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