urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

Poverty, Assets, and Safety Net

Mother and ChildGovernment safety net programs aim to protect families during tough times—before they fall into poverty. But rising unemployment, foreclosures, and economic distress are putting pressure on a system already in need of updates and repairs.

Urban Institute experts, building on decades of welfare reform research, evaluated public safety nets and proposed new initiatives to bolster work supports and help families gain a stable financial footing. Read more.

Featured Links

Data Tools

  • NICCNet Income Change Calculator
  • TRIM3 program and poverty analysis model
  • Welfare Rules Database — tables on TANF data from each of the states and Washington D.C.

Related Policy Centers

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Using Behavioral Economics to Inform the Integration of Human Services and Health Programs under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Fredric Blavin, Stan Dorn, Jay Dev

Behavioral economics, which analyzes how behavior sometimes departs from the rational calculation of self-interest, can help Medicaid programs use targeted enrollment strategies more effectively by eliminating apparently modest procedural requirements, which can greatly reduce participation levels. It can also help health coverage applicants receive SNAP, even though demonstrating eligibility for health subsidies and choosing a health plan can tax many consumers' cognitive resources, making it hard to process information about SNAP. For example, health applicants could be given the option to have the state's food agency contact them later to complete a SNAP application by phone.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Examples of Promising Practices for Integrating and Coordinating Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention: Human Services and Health Programs Under the Affordable Care Act (Research Report)
Stan Dorn, Sarah Minton, Erika Huber

States and non-profit organizations have used three approaches to successfully integrate enrollment and retention of health and human services programs: 1. Streamlining one program's eligibility determination based on data from other programs. This approach has helped uninsured children receive and retain health coverage, helped low-income seniors obtain SNAP, and produced state administrative savings. 2. Coordinated administration of multiple programs. Administrative savings resulted when multiple programs integrated their systems for case records, data matching, eligibility rules engines, on-line applications, and benefit payment. 3. Coordinating enrollment. Community colleges exemplify sites for enrolling consumers into multiple health and human services at once.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

Opportunities under the Affordable Care Act for Human Services Programs to Modernize Eligibility Systems and Expedite Eligibility Determination (Research Report)
Stan Dorn, Rebecca Peters

Human services programs can benefit from 90 percent federal funding for information technology investments that are complete by the end of 2015 and that: 1) build a service that helps both Medicaid and human services; or 2) build an interface that helps Medicaid use human services records to verify eligibility or "fast track" enrollment. Once the Affordable Care Act is fully phased in, Medicaid will be the country's most widely-used need-based program. Human services programs can use Medicaid records to streamline eligibility determination, despite limits on information sharing and differences between Medicaid and human services program rules, including household definitions.

Posted to Web: September 15, 2014Publication Date: July 21, 2014

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