Saturday, January 28, 2023


A critical number of rural IA nursing homes close; TX lawmakers consider measures to restrict, and expand voting in 2023 Session; and CT groups, and unions call for public-health reforms.


Attorney General announces enforcement actions on ransomware, Democrats discuss border policies, and the FDA is relaxing rules for gay and bisexual men to donate blood.


"Brain Gain?" Research shows rural population is actually growing, especially in recreational areas; other small towns are having success offering relocation incentives like free building lots, cash, complimentary dinners and even internet credits; and researchers say the key is flexibility and creativity.

Fallout Reverberates from End of WA Pandemic Emergency Declaration


Thursday, November 10, 2022   

Washington state has ended its COVID-19 state of emergency, and that's having effects on the public benefits people were relying on to get through the pandemic.

The state of emergency came to a halt at the end of October. The declaration had lifted some of the more onerous restrictions for benefits.

Christina Wong, director of public policy and advocacy with Northwest Harvest, said temporary expansions of relief also were connected to the health emergency.

"People might have fewer resources to help pay for essentials," said Wong. "That will then mean they'll be considering skipping meals in order to make savings to continue paying for those other really important needs."

Wong said people still are in a precarious position, struggling with higher prices at the grocery store and other costs of living such as rent and transportation.

She noted that people will rely more on food banks, but that pantries are feeling a squeeze from higher prices as well.

Marcy Bowers is the executive director of the Statewide Poverty Action Network, based in Seattle.

She said some of the waivers in place - such as suspending reviews for the Aged, Blind, and Disabled and Housing and Essential Needs referral programs - provided more flexibility and time for the people who rely on these programs.

She added that it also boosted confidence in the system.

"Many people told me that they felt like the state systems trusted them for the first time in a long time," said Bowers, "that they didn't have to continuously prove how much they needed something."

The emergency food allotments that boosted the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - or SNAP - also were tied to states' emergency declarations, leaving the future of these additional benefits uncertain.

Wong said fortunately, there could be a way to fix that.

"The good news," said Wong, "is that there are lots of examples out there about how other states who have ended their state public-health emergency declaration have still been able to get approval to provide emergency SNAP allotments by connecting it to the federal emergency health declaration."

However, Wong noted that the federal emergency declaration is set to expire in February.

Bowers said the additional benefits provided during the pandemic have helped many people who were struggling.

She said she's concerned that ending those resources abruptly could be like pulling the rug out from under them and leave them worse off than before the pandemic.

Bowers said there are positive lessons to be learned from the response to this public health emergency.

"Many of the things that we did better during the pandemic were a result of waivers and, sort of, a suspension of the rules," said Bowers. "But we do have the ability via public policymaking to change those rules so that we can better serve people."

Disclosure: Northwest Harvest contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
New data show in California, 2021-22 state testing scores are even lower than the state's historically low testing scores. (Rawpixel/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…

Social Issues

Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …

Social Issues

A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …

From February 2020 to November 2021, the number of workers in nursing homes and other care facilities dropped by 410,000 nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …

Health and Wellness

Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…

In a national survey, Michigan was ranked 27th among the 50 states for its cost, access and quality of long-term care supports and services. California was ranked first. (Flickr)

Social Issues

In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…

Social Issues

By nearly every measure, voter fraud in U.S. elections is rare, but that isn't stopping the Texas Legislature from considering dozens of bills this …

Social Issues

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021