Mississippi Poverty Comes Into Focus | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mississippi Poverty Comes Into Focus

Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker is going to keep trying to repeal Obamacare even though it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker is going to keep trying to repeal Obamacare even though it's not going to happen anytime soon. Photo by R.L. Nave.

More than three years after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, and a week before a key provision of the health law takes effect, Mississippi federal lawmakers continue vows to repeal Obamacare.

"I remain a staunch opponent of the president's health-care law and will continue to fight for its full repeal. Our aim should be true health-care reform, not policies that force families and businesses to shoulder higher costs," Mississippi's junior U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker wrote in his weekly newsletter. "Repealing this costly, intrusive law is the first step toward real reform."

Parts of the law have already taken effect and numerous attempts to repeal Obamacare have been unsuccessful. Congressional observers note that future attempts to dismantle the law would also meet failure.

Tuesday, Oct. 1, marks the first day individuals will be able to purchase health insurance on new, federally mandated marketplaces, or exchanges. And parts of the law that have taken effect already appear to be making a difference, new data show.

The U.S. Census Bureau put out new 2012 poverty statistics last week which show that the number of people who lack insurance—one of the main reasons for poverty in the U.S.—continues to decline due, in part, to Obamacare. The recent drop is smaller than the decrease witnessed in 2011, when a provision of the health law that increased coverage for young adults occurred.

Meanwhile, poverty in Mississippi—which is one of the nation's least healthy states based on a number of indicators—remains high. The Census report shows that Mississippi's 2012 poverty rate of 24.2 percent leads the nation. Overall, the number of people in poverty rose during the Great Recession, but the national poverty rate remained unchanged at about 15 percent.

Mississippi, which was one of only three states that saw an increase in the poverty rate, along with California and New Hampshire, also has the lowest median income in the nation: $37,095 compared to the national average of $51,324.

Mississippi officials delivered another potential blow to the citizens they represent last week. Three Republican members of the state's four members of the U.S. House of Representatives, voted to slash nearly $40 billion over 10 years from the federal food stamp program, a 5 percent reduction to the nation's main feeding program that more than one in seven Americans use.

By state, Oregon led the nation in food stamp use at 20.1 percent, or one in five, due in part to generous state provisions that expand food-stamp eligibility to families. Several more rural or more economically hard-hit states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan and Tennessee followed Oregon in the rankings. Wyoming had the fewest citizens sing food stamps.

In anticipation of open enrollment for the health-care exchanges, a coalition of health-care advocates, doctors, faith leaders and others have launched an educational web portal called Cover Mississippi.

"Despite the challenges, there is an historic opportunity for the advocacy community and providers to come together and connect Mississippians with what could be life-changing health insurance," said Roy Mitchell, executive director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program in a release.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Comments

justjess 6 years, 10 months ago

Why doesn't the new senator, Rodger Wicker, simply admit that he along with most Republicans have been trying to destroy President Obama since he became the Democratic nominee to represent the party nearly 6 years ago? Many Republicans have voiced their intent to unseat him. Since President Obama won his first race, succeeded in winning a second term, now we are faced with anything negative that these jokers can come up with.

"Repeal ObamaCare". "Impeach Obama". "Don't raise the debt limit". "Shut donwn the government" and the list goes on and on.......

The sad thing is that Wicker nor any other Republican has presented anything to address the many problems of poverty stated in this article. The food stamp cuts are unbelievable! There will be a domino effect. Poor children and their families will not be the only ones hurt; it goes to producers of food - to the stores that sell products.

Do these men ever get tired of reading negatives about the State of Mississippi? Aren't you tired of being at the BOTTOM of everything GOOD and the TOP of everythin BAD?

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robbier 6 years, 10 months ago

"Many Republicans have voiced their intent to unseat him"

It's politics. Both sides do this, so don't throw stones in glass.....

"Don't raise the debt limit"

I assume you're just reiterating what the current President said while the nation was under Republican leadership in 2006, right? Do you need a link? Google it. Either way the debt ceiling will be raised, despite rhetoric from both sides of the aisle.

With regards to SNAP, its supplemental; hence the name. It was never supposed to be the primary means for a family to feed their children. Secondly, as these benefits go to the impoverished, who are also more likely than not going to be on the government health care rolls in the coming years, I propose we raise the SNAP funding by X% but eliminate the eligibility of any processed, prepackaged, unhealthy food. Outside of cereal, if it comes in a box, you can't use EBT to buy it? If it's unhealthy for you, you can pay for it yourself. Can't imagine anyone being against that.

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justjess 6 years, 10 months ago

@robbier "It's politics, Both sides do this, so don't throw stones in glass....."

President Obama has received the worse treatment of any American President. Do you need some of the many links to evidence this? It is not just simply about being Democrat or Republican - It's about being Black. Please don't try to dispute this. I've lived it tooooo long to be wrong!

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tsmith 6 years, 10 months ago

If I'm not mistaken he's half black and half white, he just got the worst half of each.

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

"President Obama has received the worse treatment of any American President."

He has recieved the worst treatment? I would say that JFK or Reagan were both treated worse than Obama. They both took a bullet!

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RonniMott 6 years, 10 months ago

RobbieR, SNAP rolls have increased because gainful employment has decreased, as have wages for the bottom 40 percent of Americans. Many of the jobs now held by people laid off in the past several years don't pay living wages, or are part-time and/or temporary. Witness the fact that many (thousands?) Walmart employees are eligible for SNAP--and get food stamps to supplement their meager wages.

Second, the problem for many poor people is not as simple as a directive to "eat healthy." Many neighborhoods don't have grocery stores, a phenomena called "food deserts." That leaves people with bad options, such as convenience stores. And even most cereals are loaded with salt, sugar and fat, so who will make the distinction between what's "healthy" and what's not. Americans, in general, suffer from a lack of nutrition education (well, we have a lack of education about a lot of things, but that's another subject) in the areas most affected by lack of healthy food options.

The average SNAP benefit in Mississippi is just a bit more than $4 a day. To say that amount is anything but "supplemental" is simply absurd. Two-thirds of SNAP beneficiaries are children, the elderly and the disabled. Most of the rest are adults with children.

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robbier 6 years, 10 months ago

The average benefit is $4/day per person. You neglected to include that. So a family of 4 gets over $100/week. That seems more than doable, on non processed and processed food alike; especially given the notion of reduced/free school lunch for the children.

Also you note that neighborhoods don't have grocery stores. Are you saying the majority of SNAP benefits are not used at grocery stores, but instead at convenience stores, gas stations, etc? The former providing fresh produce, fruit, and lean proteins, while the latter not?

I'm not sure of the breakdown of which merchant categories get how much of the SNAP revenue, but I'd be interested to see it.

And the federal gov't just overhauled our health care system (regardless of your thoughts of whether or not it's a disaster), but Ronni doesn't think the USDA can decide that Cheerios are a good cereal, while Reese's Puffs are a bad cereal. Gotcha.

Good to know you lack the faith in the feds like so many of the rest of us. :)

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

" Americans, in general, suffer from a lack of nutrition education..."

Might not be a bad idea to provide the necessary education as a requirement to continue receiving the benefits. I would still like to see certain items barred from purchasing, such as soft drinks, dessert items, etc.

I don't want children in our country going hungry, but I also don't want tax dollars thrown at food items with no nutritional value.

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

Sugar content in a product such as cereal could be used to determine if it fit the definition of "healthy". Other options could also be thrown on the table. Such as giving more EBT credit for the purchase of fresh produce thus giving the recepients an incentive to use these items vs processed food. Sort of like doubling coupons in a way.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 10 months ago

js1976, why should there be so many limitations on SNAP benefits when there are NO limitations on farm subsidies to farmers or any other subsidies to people or companies that CAN do for themselves and don't. It's easy for folk like you to use poor people to make your uninformed points because they have no voice. If limitations are placed on SNAP benefits then limitations should be placed on farmers to ensure that any subsidies are used to increase wages to their workers and to provide an audited accounting of their actual finances. Further, if the farmer can't produce crops without subsidies, then they should find another line of business. Just saying.....

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robbier 6 years, 10 months ago

Knowledge06, you're better than this c'mon.

Subsidized farmers can absolutely can produce crops without subsidies, but if you understand basic economics, then you would know that they would then sell their crops at a much higher rate, thus driving up food prices across the board.

So, you are, in essence, against inexpensive food for everyone in America. Genius.

But continue your diatribe against family farmers of America.

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

Knowledge, I speak of limitation on SNAP because the article is about poverty and SNAP benefits. At least my "uniformed points" are relevant to the discussion at hand. If you want to discuss farm subsidies and corporate welfare, proposition the JFP to write and article on it and we can debate it. I will tell you this, my opinion would be the same in regards to any benefit paid for with tax dollars.

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Knowledge06 6 years, 10 months ago

js1976, my comments are very relevant. The fact that you don't think so is of no concern to me. Your reply is typical. There was no mention in the JFP article about 'sugar content' but YOU chose to make it relevant in one of YOUR responses. There was no mention in the JFP article about an 'education requirement' but YOU chose to make it relevant in one of YOUR responses. So spare me. You're part of the problem in Mississippi. Rather than discuss ideas to keep people from having to receive SNAP benefits, you chose to propose additional barriers to keep poor people from receiving it. Funny how none of your threads mention paying a livable wage to ensure that a quarter of Mississippi is not working and living in poverty. Nah, that's too much like right!

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

Knowledge, It doesn't suprise me that my comments went right over your head. Try slowing down just a second and read Ronni Mott's comment regarding "nutritional education".SHE mentioned education, I was mearly responding with my opinion. SHE mentioned sugar contents, and asked the question as to who would make the distinction between healthy vs unhealty. So both of my statements were very relevant to the discussion at hand.

So if you want to point fingers, point them in the proper direction. I'm sure that would be "too much like right". (Whatever that means)

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js1976 6 years, 10 months ago

"Rather than discuss ideas to keep people from having to receive SNAP benefits, you chose to propose additional barriers to keep poor people from receiving it. "

I should also point out to you that I proposed INCREASING benefits for the purchase of fresh produce! It is very helpful to actually read someone else's comments.

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