Welfare, money given to families in need, is not free money. It benefits many people who have a low income or no means of income at all. The benefits available are based on the level of money earned for different sized families and in different states. Welfare is also not to be provided in a biased manner to anyone who applies for it. A lot of people in today’s society depend on welfare. Welfare in the United States Governments serve the financially challenged through about 60 public assistance programs. Most look to receive assistance from one of the three major programs. These programs include the healthcare programs Medicaid and Medicare, Aid to Families with Dependant Children (AFDC), or the food stamps program.
These are all the advantages to public assistance. Even though the welfare system provides money, medical care, food, housing, or other things for most people in need, it puts a dent in the United State’s economy. There are too unemployed , single parents, elderly, disabled, and others who are in need the public assistance who either never get it or are dependent on it. Yet, there are still many problems in supplying all this to the needy, which is a concern many have.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service oversees medical care given to the needy and the elderly through Medicare insurance or the basic services provided by Medicaid. Funds vary from state to state. Medicare insures anyone over the age of sixty-five and those that suffer from certain disabling conditions. Medicaid takes care of the rest and is aimed more toward the needy. In some situations, people who may be able to pay for daily needs, but can’t afford large medical bills may also be eligible to receive Medicaid. Some services paid for by Medicaid and Medicare are bills such as doctor’s visits, nursing home care and assisting the disabled. Most Medicaid funding comes from the federal government, while the rest is supplied by the state. Each state runs its own medical care programs.
Together all Medicare and Medicaid expenses added up to about 334 billion dollars of coverage for 51 million people per year who are qualified for the payments in the 1990’s (World Almanac). That wouldn’t be so bad if one could find out exactly where all that money actually went considering the Medicaid plan alone almost doubled from the 1980’s to the 1990’s. It also says nothing about even distribution of the money. The almanac states that the money spent has leveled off toward the end of the 90’s, partly because state policies restricting the number of recipients receiving benefits and the overall economy was improving.
Another program is the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). It provides cash benefits to dependent children and the parents or the guardians taking care of them. Most families that qualify for AFDC have just one parent in the home. About 80 percent of these single parent families are headed women (almanac). AFDC also pays benefits to two-parent families if both parents are unemployed. Most AFDC funding comes from the federal government. The states provide the rest of the money and administer the program.
The sizes of a families’ payment vary from state to state. The only objection to giving AFDC is how many families lied to qualify for the benefits. Some standards need to be set to go further then just a simple fill in the blank evaluation sheet. There are mothers and guardians who have had children who have received aid to support the child and not even used the aid for the intent it was given. The parents should be informed before they even have a child so they do not make these mistakes that the taxpayer has to pay for.
Finally, the Food Stamp Program helps low-income households buy more and better food than they could otherwise afford. Each participating household receives a certain number of coupons called food stamps or an Electronic Benefits Transfer card which acts like a debit card and helps the Department of Agriculture keep track of what the money is being spent on. The Department of Agriculture distributes approximately 17.2 million households a month receive about 24.6 billion dollars per year on food stamps. The number of stamps a household receives varies with the family’s size, income, and expenses. The actual amount is about thirty percent of what the family’s income is. Cooperating grocery stores accept the stamps like money for food purchases only and if they are caught doing other wise they face hefty penalties such as jail time or being kicked out of the program.
Another issue the Department of Agriculture faces that it is hard to tell if the people who own the food stamps are not selling them to other people. Households who are on food stamps are permitted from purchasing alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, items that can be eaten in the store at lunch counters, vitamins and medicines, pet foods, and any non-food items except seeds and what not. There are problems with the food stamps such as most recipients hardly seem to get enough to live on. On average a family will receive about seventy-three dollars a month. If a person does not have a job they are eligible for the maximum amount of three hundred dollars per month.
The criticisms welfare gets range over a number of social and economic issues. Some people criticize welfare programs for not providing high enough benefits to eliminate poverty. Spending on welfare would have to increase greatly to eliminate poverty, and many people believe the cost is already too high. Many critics of the welfare system charge that providing a steady income to needy people encourages idleness. Actually, most welfare benefits go to elderly, blind, and disabled people and mothers with young children. But welfare does discourage some recipients from working harder by reducing benefits if their income increases. Many people also criticize the welfare system for being too complex and costly to administer. Each program has its own eligibility requirements and ways of calculating benefits, and these rules vary from state to state.
Public officials collect detailed information about applicants to determine their eligibility for benefits. This process is time-consuming and costly. Some people cheat the system by not reporting all the income they earn. But suppliers of services to welfare recipients account for most of the fraud in welfare. Some physicians, pharmacists, and others have been overpaid because they have made up false bills. Over all the welfare program is great idea but, flaws need to be assed and actions need to be taken so the money given out is not wasted or unjustly used. Most importantly we have to do a better job at finding more efficient way to improve the process of helping people in need.