FEC Introduces Online Map to Track Presidential Campaign Contributions

Source: Federal Election Commission, June 13, 2007

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) now has a new, interactive map on its web site that displays individual contributions to the 2008 Presidential candidates. With a simple click of the mouse, a user can highlight on the map the amount of money raised on a state-by-state basis. Users also have the option of viewing contributions to specific candidates, all candidates or all candidates from a political party. The map conveniently displays the total contributions to each candidate, along with their cash on hand and the distribution of their contributions by amount.

Users may select to view contributions in specific states. The map lists contributors by name, city, amounts of donations and dates within the first three digits of their zip code. These lists can be sorted and downloaded to a spreadsheet format.
Direct to map

Maternity Care and Consumer-Driven Health Plans

Source: Women’s Health Policy Program, Kaiser Family Foundation, June 12, 2007

With maternity care representing one of the most common and costly medical interventions that women experience, Kaiser and the March of Dimes co-hosted a forum to release new studies that analyze the costs of maternity care and assess coverage under consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs). Kaiser released a new study that compares the out-of-pocket costs of maternity care under CDHPs and traditional health insurance plans. The March of Dimes released a new study prepared by Thomson Healthcare that examines the overall costs of having a baby.

+ Executive Summary
+ Full Report
+ Thomson Report: The Healthcare Costs of Having a Baby
+ March of Dimes: Maternity Care Fact Sheet

Health Insurance: Can Californians Afford it?

Source: California Health Care Foundation, June 2007

Summary

The report offers a number of key findings including:
– Monthly premiums in the small group market are, on average, 50% higher than in the individual market.
– Insurance covered 83% of a person’s medical bills in the small group market, and 55% of those costs in the individual market.
– A person buying coverage in the individual market earning the median household income ($30,623) would have spent 16% of income for health care and coverage, compared to less than 4% of income in the small group market, where employers are likely to contribute a share of the premium and benefits are more generous.

Further Evidence of Affordability Problems
A companion piece, available as a Health Affairs Web exclusive, provides additional evidence of growing affordability problems in these two markets, albeit in different ways. Jon Gabel and co-authors find that small group premiums in California increased 53% between 2003 and 2006, while premiums for individual coverage rose only 23% between 2002 and 2006.
However, the average actuarial value of individual coverage declined dramatically. In 2003 individual market policies paid 75% of medical costs on average; that figure had dropped to 55% just three years later. In contrast, small group market policies retained their actuarial value, paying for roughly 83% of medical expenses across a similar period.

Low Wages Prevalent in Direct Care and Child Care Workforce

Source: Kristin Smith and Reagan Baughman, Carsey Institute, University of New Hampshire, Policy Brief no. 7, Summer 2007

One in every two direct care workers and one in every three child care workers live in a low-income family (below 200 percent of the poverty line), and many live in poverty. Hourly wages for the caregiving workforce are low and many lack health insurance. Despite work, these families struggle to make ends meet. Our society depends on the care work of many paid professionals-direct care and child care workers-to help meet the daily needs of our children and the elderly. To stem turnover and provide quality services to young children and the elderly, job conditions among the direct care and child care workforce must improve, and increasing wages is a promising place to start.

Principles for SCHIP Reform

Source: Council for Affordable Health Insurance’s Issues and Answers no. 143, June 2007

From press release:

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is up for reauthorization, and there appears to be bipartisan support for not just reauthorizing the program but greatly expanding it. Indeed, the legislation may become a vehicle for much of what Congress wants to accomplish in health care this year.
However, SCHIP was intended to be a limited program to help uninsured children from modest- income families — not a huge entitlement covering middle- and upper-middle-income children and hundreds of thousands of adults.

Today, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) released its newest Issues & Answers, “Principles for SCHIP Reform.” The paper identifies key principles that should guide lawmakers in their reauthorization efforts, if they want a financially sustainable program that provides access to quality health care for low- income children.

Performance Pay and Wage Inequality

Source: Thomas Lemieux, W. Bentley MacLeod, Daniel Parent, Institute for the Study of Labor, IZA DP No. 2850, June 2007

We document that an increasing fraction of jobs in the U.S. labor market explicitly pay workers for their performance using bonuses, commissions, or piece-rates. We find that compensation in performance-pay jobs is more closely tied to both observed (by the econometrician) and unobserved productive characteristics of workers. Moreover, the growing incidence of performance-pay can explain 24 percent of the growth in the variance of male wages between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, and accounts for nearly all of the top-end growth in wage dispersion (above the 80th percentile).

Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America

Source: Frank S. Levy, Peter Temin, MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 07-17, May 1, 2007

abstract
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We provide a comprehensive view of widening income inequality in the United States contrasting conditions since 1980 with those in earlier postwar years. We argue that the income distribution in each period was strongly shaped by a set of economic institutions. The early postwar years were dominated by unions, a negotiating framework set in the Treaty of Detroit, progressive taxes, and a high minimum wage – all parts of a general government effort to broadly distribute the gains from growth. More recent years have been characterized by reversals in all these dimensions in an institutional pattern known as the Washington Consensus. Other explanations for income disparities including skill-biased technical change and international trade are seen as factors operating within this broader institutional story.

Framework for a New Safety Net for Low-Income Working Families

Source: Olivia Golden, Pamela Winston, Gregory Acs, Ajay Chaudry, Urban Institute, Paper 7, June 12, 2007

This paper for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation conceptualizes a framework for a new safety net for low-income working families that is rooted in their most essential needs. It is organized around five key goals:

1. enabling parents to meet their family’s needs while working in lower-wage jobs,
2. helping families weather gaps in parental employment,
3. supporting parents’ job advancement,
4. helping parents combine work and child-rearing, and
5. improving children’s well-being and development.

The paper describes these families’ circumstances, discusses gaps in current safety-net programs, and explores possible alternative approaches to meeting families’ most pressing needs.

Perspectives 2007: iGovernment — Empowering citizens through distributed technology

Source: Perspectives 2007, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, June 2007

Summary

The Global Public Sector annual report, “Perspectives 2007,” outlines the incredibly diverse needs of 21st century citizens and the challenges facing governments today. At every level of government, from basic infrastructure to technological advancement, constituents are demanding public service evolution. This report observes the ever-changing obstacles of governments at the many different levels where they touch citizens’ lives and offers examples of lessons learned executing solutions to these challenges.

From providing food and water, to securing trade and encouraging participation in the global community, governments are relying more and more on the input of citizens. By taking technological advancements and innovation in the private sector and coupling it with a more distributive approach, governments have an opportunity to respond to the changing demands of the population.

Does It Pay to Save?

Source: Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David S. Rapson, National Center for Policy Analysis, NCPA Study No. 298, June, 2007

Summary

Does it pay to save? The answer is often no. In fact, penalties for saving are astronomical for some households, particularly young, single-parent and lower-income families. But these are the very people who need the strongest incentives to save for retirement.

Determining the effective marginal tax on additional saving is difficult because of the complexity of the tax code and the interaction of different government tax and transfer programs (such as food stamps) that are limited to households below certain income and asset ceilings. Saving and wealth accumulation can put a family over an asset limit and cost thousands of dollars in lost benefits.

To calculate the effective marginal tax on saving, this study uses financial planning software that carefully determines tax and transfer payments at each stage of a person’s life, based in part on economic choices they make in prior periods. The model assumes people try to even out consumption over their lifetimes.
The results: For single parents with two children, effective marginal taxes on savings are regressive – lower-income households pay higher rates than high-income households.

+ Full Report