Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Data – Some Hospitals Set Charges at 10 Times their Costs

Source: National Nurses United Press Release, January 6, 2014

With growing national attention to hospital pricing practices, new data released by the nation’s largest nurses organization today showed that hospital charges continue to skyrocket with some U.S. hospitals charging more than ten times their cost – nearly $1,200 for every $100 of their total costs….

Key findings include:
• 14 U.S. hospitals charge more than $1,000 for every $100 of their total costs (a charge to cost ratio of 1,000 percent) topped by Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, NJ which has a charge to cost ratio of 1,192 percent.
• The 100 most expensive U.S. hospitals have a charge to cost ratio of 765 percent and higher – more than double the national average of 331 percent.
• Despite enactment of the Affordable Care Act, hospital charges recorded their single biggest jump, a 22 percentile point increase from fiscal year 2010-2011 to fiscal year 2011-2012 in the past 16 years for which the IHSP has analyzed the data.
• Six of the nine most expensive hospitals are part of two big chains, Community Health Systems, Inc. and Health Management Associates which are currently pursuing a controversial merger that critics charge would further drive up prices.
• For-profit hospitals continue to dominate the list of those with the highest charges. For-profit corporations average charges of 503 percent of their costs, or $503 for every $100 of total costs.
• By contrast, government-run hospitals, including federal, state, county, city, or district operated hospitals, with public budgets and boards that meet in public, exercise far more restraint than for-profit or non-profit corporate chains. Average charge ratios for government-run hospitals are just 235 percent of their costs.
• Public oversight or regulation seems to help constrain excessive pricing. Maryland, probably the most regulated state in the U.S., has the lowest average charges of all the states among its 10 most expensive hospitals. …

Top 100 most expensive hospitals by state
Most expensive hospitals in alphabetical order by state
Average charge-to-cost ratio by state

The GOP’s Poverty Denialism

Source: Michelle Goldberg, Nation, November 6, 2013

According to many conservatives, the poor have it easy. … Americans have always hated the idea of people getting something for nothing, but in a country where the ranks of the working poor are swelling and food stamps subsidize the low wages paid by behemoths like Walmart and McDonald’s, the notion of the indigent as coddled idlers has little currency outside the right-wing bubble. Polls, for example, consistently show majority opposition to cuts in food stamps. In such an environment, the war against the poor could be used against the GOP as effectively as the war on women was, at least if the Democrats are prepared to defend them….

What Workers Really Want—and Need

Source: Carl E. Van Horn, HR Magazine, Vol. 58 No. 10, October 2013

In his new book Working Scared, a Rutgers University professor documents the decade-long causes of workers’ dwindling engagement and satisfaction. …

…In the early 21st century, many U.S. workers occupy two unwelcome worlds. Millions are unemployed, fighting for a job and suffering personal and financial agony. Among those still employed, many live in a state of constant anxiety as they desperately try to hang on to jobs. These people are “working scared” because, to them, it seems that virtually every job is temporary, threatened directly or indirectly by technological change or global competition.

With no certain routes to stable employment, U.S. workers scramble for the education they need to remain employable and provide for their families. A college degree no longer brings automatic success. In Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), I present findings based on more than 15 years of research that will help citizens, policymakers and educators, as well as business, union and community leaders, reach sounder business and policy decisions.

Working Scared draws on nearly 25,000 random interviews with employed, unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens between 1998 and 2012—one of the most volatile periods in U.S. economic history. People from all regions, ages and occupations were interviewed. The book examines the transformation of the U.S. labor market in the first decade of the 21st century—a time when the experiences, beliefs, aspirations and concerns of working men and women were buffeted by the changing nature of work in a volatile, global, knowledge-driven economy….

Effects of the Minimum Wage on Employment Dynamics

Source: Jonathan Meer, Jeremy West, Texas A&M University, July 2013

From the abstract:
The voluminous literature on minimum wages offers little consensus on the extent to which a wage floor impacts employment. For both theoretical and econometric reasons, we argue that the effect of the minimum wage should be more apparent in new employment growth than in employment levels. In addition, we conduct a simulation showing that the common practice of including state-specific time trends will attenuate the measured effects of the minimum wage on employment if the true effect is in fact on the rate of job growth. Using a long state-year panel on the population of private-sector employers in the United States, we find that the minimum wage reduces net job growth, primarily through its effect on job creation by expanding establishments.
Meer and West on Minimum Wage
Source: John Schmitt, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), September 27, 2013

…The new paper will, I am sure, be cited by opponents of current proposals to increase the federal and various state minimum wages. But, there are important reasons to be skeptical about the findings. …
Two Red Flags
The first red flag is that the negative effect of the minimum wage estimated by Meer and West applies to the entire workforce (not just workers affected by the minimum wage) and appears to lie well outside the range of almost all earlier research on the minimum wage. …

Nonstandard Work Schedules and the Well-being of Low-Income Families

Source: Maria E. Enchautegui, Urban Institute, July 2013

Forty percent of full-time workers toiling outside the traditional daytime weekday schedule bring home paychecks that put them in the lowest wage quartile, an Urban Institute analysis of 2011 Census Bureau data shows. Among all full-time employees with very low wages, 25 percent work most of their hours on a nonstandard schedule. The consequences of nonstandard work hours (6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and anytime on weekends), such as child care and transportation problems, marital conflict, family instability, and health stresses, lie heavily on low-income families, Maria Enchautegui explains in “Nonstandard Work Schedules and the Well-Being of Low-Income Families.” And while nonstandard-schedule workers share some of the same challenges with daytime low-wage employees — including working on employer-controlled schedules, limited paid time off, and unpredictable hours — they confront special difficulties carving out time for family, keeping to household routines, and helping children with schoolwork.

A Profile of Older Americans: 2012

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, Administration on Aging, 2013

• The older population (65+) numbered 41 .4 million in 20 11, an increase of 6.3 million or 18 % since 2000.
• The number of Americans aged 4 5 – 64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 33 % during this period.
• Over one in every eight, or 1 3.3 %, of the population is an older American.
• Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.2 years (20.4 years for females and 17. 8 years for males).
• Older women outnumber older men at 23.4 million older women to 17.9 million older men.
• In 2011, 21 .0 % of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations — 9% were African – Americans (not Hispanic), 4 % were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic), less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan (not Hispanic), and 0.6 % of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7% of the older population.
• Older men were much more likely to be married than older women — 72% of men vs. 45% of women (Figure 2). 37 % older women in 2012 were widows.
• About 28% (11.8 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8. 4 million women, 3.5 million men).
• Almost half of older women (46 %) age 75+ live alone.
Previous profiles

The High Price Of College Tuition

Source: Diane Rehm Show, July 15, 2013

Getting a four-year college degree can cost a small fortune — even at public institutions. Annual tuition hikes at public and private universities often outpace the rate of inflation. With state funding for higher education decreasing and federal student loans rates rising, many students will be saddled with ever greater debt. For some, high tuition will make the American dream of getting a college degree unattainable. Diane and guests talk about why college is so expensive and what can be done about it.
Kevin Carey – director of the education policy program at the New America Foundation.
Kim Clark – senior writer for “Money” magazine.
Terry Hartle – senior vice president of American Council on Education, a trade association representing 1,800 public and private universities.
Brian Rosenberg – president of Macalester College.

Are Public Pensions Keeping Up with the Times?

Source: Richard W. Johnson, Matthew M. Chingos and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, June 2013

From the summary:
…As debate swirls around how to properly fund public employee benefits, this report assesses the real challenges facing state and local government retirement plans and details the problems facing public employee pension systems across the country. Chingos, Whitehurst and Johnson’s comprehensive examination of the existing research on this topic highlights the many problems facing these pension plans, including the underfunding that threatens states’ economic futures and outdated design features that cripple states’ ability to recruit and retain the best public servants….

A Reporter’s Guide to the Goldwater Institute: What Citizens, Policymakers, and Reporters Should Know

Source: Center for Media and Democracy and Arizona Working Families, March 2013

The Goldwater Institute is a special interest group in Arizona that also influences law outside the Grand Canyon State. This tax-exempt group — registered as 501(c)(3) non-profit –says its mission is “to advance freedom and protect the Constitution.”

This report outlines the following key findings on the Institute:
• Goldwater & ALEC’s Shared Agenda
• Goldwater Executives Get Bonuses while Arizona’s Middle Class Gets Less
• Attacks Government Spending, But Takes Taxpayer Dollars
• Its Tax Forms Reveal Murky Internal Financial Dealings: up to $1.9M in Cash Was Loaned to a Board Member’s Company
• Funded by Special Interests and Out-of-State Right-Wing Ideologues
• A Powerful Influence in the Arizona Statehouse that Reports Very Little Lobbying