Protecting America’s Future: A State-by-State Look at SCHIP & Uninsured Kids

Source: CoverTheUninsured.org (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), August 2007

From press release:
With the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) set to expire Sept. 30, experts say that unless Congress and the White House reauthorize the program and agree on its funding, coverage for vulnerable children nationwide will be in jeopardy. At risk are millions of children who were covered by SCHIP at some point last year and millions more who are SCHIP-eligible, but not yet enrolled.

According to an analysis of government data released today, more than 6.6 million children were covered by SCHIP at some point last year. Nearly 9 million children remain uninsured. Before adjourning for summer recess last week, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate approved separate SCHIP bills that would provide funding to cover more SCHIP-eligible children. Amidst presidential veto threats, lawmakers from both chambers must now negotiate consensus legislation to send to the White House.

Coming Up Short: Resurrection Health Care’s Distorted Pay Priorities

Source: Council 31, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), July 2007

From press release:
Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have issued a new report documenting low wage levels that keep patient-support staff art Resurrection Health Care hospitals mired in poverty and unable to support their families. Resurrection Health Care (RHC) is the second largest non-profit hospital system in the Chicago metropolitan area. It encompasses eight hospitals, as well as nursing homes, home health services, and outpatient clinics.

Entitled Coming Up Short: Resurrection Health Care’s Distorted Pay Priorities, the report depicts a starkly skewed pay structure in which the compensation of RHC hospital executives significantly exceeds national norms while the meager wages of patient-support staff (housekeepers, laundry and food service workers) fall far short of self-sufficiency standards in the Chicago area.

Crackdown: Immigration Pressures Are Rearranging Politics in More than One State Capitol

Source: Josh Goodman, Governing, Vol. 20 no. 10, July 2007

When the subject of illegal immigration comes up, the states you think about first are Texas and California. Maybe Arizona. But, as of July 1, it is Georgia, a full thousand miles from the Mexican border, that is at the center of the immigration debate in the United States.

That’s because SB 529, its new immigration law now taking effect, is the most stringent statute of its kind anywhere in the country. It is the sort of law that immigration hard-liners would like to see enacted on a national basis. Under its provisions, state and local government agencies have to verify the legal residency of benefit recipients. Many employers will have to do the same whenever they make a hiring decision. Law enforcement officers are given authority to crack down on human trafficking and fake documents. In sum, SB 529 touches every facet of state policy that relates to illegal immigrants.

The central question about the law is, obviously, whether it will work as intended and reduce the impact of undocumented newcomers on the state. But an equally important question is whether the political situation that led to SB 529 can be sustained and replicated in other places. The topic of illegal immigration has bedeviled virtually every state legislature and the U.S. Congress for years, without much substantive result. What made Georgia different was a populist uprising that all but forced the legislature to crack down on the undocumented community. If that sort of pressure gains momentum elsewhere, the near future may portend a series of state laws as strict as Georgia’s — even if Congress manages to pass an immigration bill of its own. Oklahoma and Colorado have both enacted laws with some provisions similar to SB 529 — the question is how many states will follow.

2008 Election Timeline, Presidential Debates, Primaries and Caucuses

Source: CQ Politics.com, Congressional Quarterly Inc.

To navigate the timeline, click and hold your mouse on each band to scroll left and right. The top band represents each month, the bottom each year. Clicking on the text will display information on each event.
See Also: 2008 White House Derby: The Field So Far
Podcasts and other info linked to each candidate

State Expenditure Growth Slowing

Source: Elizabeth C. McNichol, Nicholas Johnson and Sarah Farkas, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 31, 2007

State expenditure growth is projected to slow significantly for fiscal year 2008, which is the 12-month period that began July 1, 2007 in most states. During May, June, and early July, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities conducted a phone and email survey of state legislative and executive budget officials to learn states’ actual General Fund spending for fiscal year 2006, their best estimate of fiscal year 2007 spending, and the fiscal year 2008 spending included in their recently enacted budget. The preliminary results of this survey show that in fiscal year 2008, General Fund spending will grow about 5.3 percent — well below the rates of growth in fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

IRS Releases Interim Report on Tax-Exempt Hospitals and Community Benefit Project

Source: Internal Revenue Service, IR-2007-132, July 19, 2007

The Internal Revenue Service released an interim report summarizing responses from almost 500 tax-exempt hospitals to a May 2006 questionnaire about how they provide and report benefits to the community. Providing community benefit is required for hospitals seeking and retaining tax-exempt status as charities.

Today’s report on the hospital compliance project contains preliminary information on the way nonprofit hospitals, which comprise one of the largest components of the tax-exempt sector, responded to questions about how they provide community benefit. The IRS is still in the process of analyzing the reported data.

According to the report, nearly all hospitals reported that they provided various types of community benefit that were the subject of the questionnaire. Although 97 percent of responding hospitals said they have a written uncompensated care policy, no uniform definition of what constitutes “uncompensated care” emerged from the responses. Further, there appear to be significant differences in the way other components of community benefit are reported.

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Addressing Longstanding Gaps in Unemployment Insurance Coverage

Source: Chad Stone, Robert Greenstein, Martha Coven, National Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 7, 2007

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a joint federal-state program designed to provide temporary income support to workers who have a demonstrated attachment to the labor force and lose their jobs due to a lay-off or for other economic reasons, or who must leave their jobs through no fault of their own. (See the box on page 2 for an overview of the UI system.) Unfortunately, the UI system is not performing as well as it should in meeting this goal. Many workers who lose their jobs — especially low-income and part-time workers — end up not receiving any unemployment benefits; many others exhaust their benefits before finding a new job.

The need to modernize UI has been evident for some time, and many states have made progress reforming their UI laws over the past decade or so. It is time for the federal government to lend its support and encouragement to these efforts, and such reform may be on the Congressional agenda this year.

New Brief Analyzes the Composition and Cost of Louisiana’s Uninsured Population After Hurricane Katrina

Source: Stephen Zuckerman and Jack Hadley, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, July 2007

Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured: “The new brief, Louisiana’s Proposed Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Project: Estimating the Numbers of Uninsured and Projected Medicaid Costs, analyzes the composition and medical costs of the uninsured in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. The estimates in the brief are the first available that are based on a detailed analysis of who the uninsured are in Louisiana, their current medical spending, and what their spending might be under Medicaid. The findings show that expanding Medicaid coverage to Louisiana’s uninsured would cost an estimated $2.3 billion in 2006 dollars. It also suggests that many of those who left Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina had coverage, so the number of uninsured in the state remained about the same, but their share of the total population increased. The brief was commissioned by Kaiser and prepared by Stephen Zuckerman of the Urban Institute and Jack Hadley of George Mason University.”

Fixing the Tax System: Support Fairer, Simpler, and More Adequate Taxation

Source: William G. Gale, Opportunity 08: A Project of the Brookings Institution, 2007

A good tax system raises the revenues needed to finance government spending in a manner that is as simple, equitable, stable, and conducive to economic growth as possible. But the challenge for the next President will be to make reform work not just in the abstract, but in the real world, where special interests often rule the roost. The next President should support reforms that would tax all income once (only) at the full tax rate, simplify and streamline the tax code, and, of course, raise sufficient revenues. To achieve these goals, the package of specific reforms proposed in this paper would:

tax all new corporate investment income only once
remove all corporate subsidies in the Code and strengthen corporate anti- sheltering provisions
integrate payroll and income taxes for individuals
introduce return-free filing for many taxpayers
consolidate and streamline tax subsidies for education, retirement and families
eliminate or revise various tax deductions
create a value-added tax that would, eventually, raise 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in revenues
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