Public programs help millions living in poverty

On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest poverty, income, and health care statistics.  The data indicate that while the number of Americans living in poverty has stabilized from increases since the start of the economic recession, more must be done to help the millions of Americans still suffering under the crushing weight of poverty.

According to the Census Bureau, more than 46 million Americans live in poverty, including 22 percent of children under the age of 18. Moreover, real household income declined for the second straight year, dropping 1.5 percent from 2010.

“The numbers we see today confirm the sad truth that poverty remains an enormous problem for millions of Americans. But the policy choices we make going forward can play a great role in reducing poverty,” said Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Rebecca Gould. “We need to expand policies that provide access to education and training, childcare and work support programs while families move out of poverty. Programs like child care assistance, Medicaid, unemployment, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program do just that.”

A positive development highlighted by the Census Bureau was a decrease in the number of Americans across the nation without health insurance.  This decrease is attributable in part to the provision of the Affordable Care Act allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until they reach the age of 26.

“Today’s data shows that the Affordable Care Act is already making a real difference by opening the door for more Americans to get and maintain access to healthcare,” said Jennifer Carter, Director of Public Policy at Nebraska Appleseed. “Nebraska has the chance to increase access to health care even further by taking advantage of the opportunity under the ACA to create a new program which would cover up to 90,000 Nebraskans. It is an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up.”

Millions of people across our nation still suffer under the weight of poverty, lacking access to economic stability and health care that should be available to every hard-working American.  But through policies that create opportunity and offer support to our working families, we can help provide relief as we continue to move forward out of this recession.

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