Bridging the Gaps in Ohio

February 22, 2008
   

Many Ohioans work hard but cannot make ends meet. Over 2.8 million Ohioans, approximately 25 percent, do not earn enough to meet basic needs. The gap between what these Ohioans earn and their basic family budgets, a hardships gap, forces many families to go without such necessities as health insurance or safe and enriching child care. Public work support programs such as Medicaid and child care assistance can help these families to bridge the hardships gap between what they earn and what they need to make basic ends meet.

This Policy Matters Ohio report shows that while public work supports help narrow the gap, nearly 2.1 million Ohioans (20 percent) continue to struggle. Many families either do not qualify for public work supports, the programs lack enough resources to cover everyone eligible, or the administrative process is too cumbersome. Eligibility requirements for public work support programs should be simplified, expanded to include more Ohioans, and should phase out slowly, so that an additional dollar of work-related earnings never results in a step backwards with more than a dollar in lost income. In the richest country in the world, with many of the world’s most profitable businesses, there is no reason that working people should be forced to choose between paying their rent or utility bills, putting food on the table, ensuring safe and enriching child care, or obtaining health care.

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