This project examines how the contrasting design of two important social programs-Medicaid and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)-differentially shape access to public benefits and political voice for economically and racially marginal populations. Low-income families often experience and navigate multiple social assistance programs at a time. Assessing the intersection between programs that simultaneously serve overlapping low-income populations is an important step for advancing knowledge of how to effectively design and administer social policy to achieve health equity. The nexus between programs that provide direct health resources (like Medicaid) and those that address the wider determinants of health (like WIC) is particularly imperative. The research team will conduct semi-structured qualitative interviews with administrative staff and policy beneficiaries in each program across three states (North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania).
This project will provide an in-depth view of variation in state-level policy rules and program administration across WIC and Medicaid and illuminate the consequences for policy beneficiaries' ability to access benefits, engage with programs, and function as democratic citizens.