Reflection Paper

Over the past few decades, the federal government has been directing large sums of money – about a sixth of its spending – to assisting people who receive low incomes or have a few assets. Such cash payments are aimed to assist the needy to get health care, food, education, or housing. In this memo, the three major components of the antipoverty safety net will be discussed. These components are health care, cash assistance, and nutrition, housing and education. These components are called mean tested since the receivers must have low income to qualify for them.

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Health Care Component

The government has ensured that people who earn low incomes have a health insurance cover through Medicaid. Low-income beneficiaries of the Medicare program also benefit from drug prescriptions. The majority of the beneficiaries of Medicaid are children, the elderly, women and the disabled. The spending on Medicaid has grown greatly. This growth can be attributed to the rising costs of health care and the increased enrollment of people to the program. For instance, it was observed that the number of people who enrolled in Medicaid over the last four decades had tripled (Carrington, Dahl & Falk 9). There have also been several policy changes that have increased the eligibility for the program; thus more people have been able to enroll. Despite the fact that the economy is still growing, health costs have soared with a rate that surpasses that of the economy. This change can be attributed to the introduction of new medical technologies. As much as these developments have increased the costs of health care, they have also increased its quality. Therefore, the health of people must be prioritized at any cost. Therefore, poor people who cannot afford to pay for quality treatment are helped by the government. There have been policy changes that have directed states to offer more services. As such, the benefits of the program have increased with special services being offered. Federal programs have been allowing such services as increasing care in the long term, both home- and community-based (Carrington, Dahl & Falk 10). The fact that states were allowed to increase the number of participants, especially the elderly, was quite helpful since more people got incorporated into the program. This trend would not have been accomplished by people seeking home-based nursing care.

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Cash Assistance Component

The programs that fall under this component offer contributions to the elderly and the disabled. Needy families that receive low incomes can also benefit from it. The Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit are refundable tax credits, where if someone exceeds their tax liabilities and they are legible, the excess tax is channeled back to the taxpayer where he/she receives it as a payment. The earned income tax credit works as the earnings of the family. Its increase corresponds to an increase in the family’s earnings until a certain point is reached, where the credits decrease and, eventually, the tax filers become ineligible (Carrington, Dahl & Falk 16). There were policy changes that increased the maximum credit and the income range available for the tax credit. This component also facilitated the support of individuals who were elderly, blind or disabled. Therefore, the number of people enrolling in the program increased. The Temporary Assist for Needy Families is one of the programs in this component that assists families who have a small income. This program encourages the recipients to work. The recipients are only allowed to receive the assistance for five years. However, immigrants do not receive this assistance. This program is very helpful in the sense that it helps poor children without parents, and it also reduces poverty. In addition, it helps increase employment opportunities because beneficiaries of the program are supposed to participate in activities that are barely related to work, or else they will face sanctions. This program also aims at reducing the number of children born out of wedlock. Therefore, when only a few community members have children out of wedlock, it means that in the future the number of such children will be even smaller.

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Nutrition, Housing and Education Programs

The programs in this component help people in need to obtain food, housing, and education. The cost of housing is subsidized for people who do not earn enough. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program is an example of such programs, and it helps individuals or families who have low income to buy food. The number of people who receive this aid has grown over the years as a result of the increase in population as well as the increase in the number of people who have been spending during that period. The application process for this aid has been made easy for most people. There are also Child Nutrition Programs. They provide free or cheap meals in schools. It is, however, difficult to tell the number of children reached by the program since the children may fail to change nutrition. The number of people who receive housing assistance is smaller from the rest of the programs (Carrington, Dahl & Falk 9). These programs are essential. They help children to have food even if their parents cannot afford it. Additionally, numerous people who otherwise would not have afforded houses are helped. Out of all the programs in place, Medicaid seems to be the most flourishing one. It is observed that the expenses of the program have been rising exponentially since 2011. However, considerable expenditures have gone to mothers and children and thus the increase cannot be solely attributed to the increase of the spending for the elderly. As such, it is evident that these programs are useful and they will continue to exist (CBO 40).

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In conclusion, the antipoverty safety net has put in place components that ensure that the poor in the society are looked after. The health care component has made sure that the poor get adequate and quality health care. New medical technologies have come at a cost but they are essential for ensuring that everybody gets treatment even if one cannot afford it. The cash assistance component helps the elderly and the disabled. It offers tax exemptions as people who earn less get tax credits. There are also programs that help people to work and thus create employment opportunities. The individual who benefits from this component have to work or else they will face sanctions. The state also aims to minimize the number of children born out of wedlock, and thus the number of families with two parents is increasing. The nutrition, housing, and education component helps to ensure that the needy can buy food and afford the house and that their children get access to the education. As such, the importance of the poverty safety net cannot be understated. It is of major significance for ensuring that the poor and disabled people can access the basic rights. It is, therefore, imperative that these programs remain consistently funded so as to ensure that they will keep on helping the less fortunate in the society.


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