Poverty Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 2001

Hundred-dollar bills are seen in an undated image from Getty Images

Hundred-dollar bills are seen in an undated image from Getty Images

Still, in inflation-adjusted terms, median income was little changed after three years of growth - a surprising and puzzling stall, suggesting that middle-class households saw little in the way of income gains even as the overall economy was strong, Harry Holzer, a public policy professor at Georgetown University, told the Los Angeles Times.

Democrats are laying the blame Trump, long accusing his administration of deliberately undermining Obama's health care law.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute estimates Medicaid expansion, which would raise the income threshold for eligibility for the state-federal health insurance program, would reduce the number of uninsured in the state by 200,000.

The official US poverty rate fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, the lowest since 11.7 percent in 2001 and a sign that the devastation from the Great Recession had faded.

About 27.5 million residents, or 8.5% of people, did not have health insurance in 2018, up from 25.6 million, or 7.9%, during the previous year.

Though income inequality narrowed a year ago, it remains near record levels reached in 2017.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday blamed Trump's "cruel health care sabotage" for the rising number of uninsured people. Trump also removed a subsidy for insurers, thereby triggering a jump in premiums.

Yet ACA enrollment has held fairly steady, with about 20 million people covered by its mix of subsidized private plans and a Medicaid expansion for low-income individuals.

The Trump administration has also rolled out some regulatory changes of its own meant to expand coverage.

With health care already a central issue in the 2020 presidential campaigns and a prime voter concern, meanwhile, the fresh evidence that insurance is slipping further out of Americans' reach is virtually certain to escalate partisan warring about Americans' access to affordable coverage. Past year alone, more than 2 million people found full-time jobs, the Census report said. These changes are fairly recent, though, and it's unclear what impact they might eventually have.

The findings released Tuesday, based on a large U.S. Census Bureau survey, reverse the trend that began when the Affordable Care Act expanded opportunities for poor and some middle-income people to get affordable coverage.

The economic expansion hasn't noticeably narrowed the income gap between white and African-American households.

Income figures show working women earning more money than they did during the boom years before the 2008 financial crisis, surpassing the gains for men. The South was the only region not to see its poverty rate fall between 2017 and 2018. This measure also includes the effects of government benefit programs like Social Security and food stamps.

Racial and ethnic minorities continued to face challenges in accessing medical care: 9.7% of blacks and 17.8% of Hispanics were uninsured, while 5.4% of white non-Hispanic people did not have coverage.

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