Source: Jason Levitis and Andrew Nicholas, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 29, 2008
From the summary:
Poor families in many states faced substantial state income tax liability for the 2007 tax year. In 18 of the 42 states that levy income taxes, two-parent families of four with incomes below the federal poverty line were liable for income tax. In 15 states, poor single-parent families of three paid income tax in 2007. And 26 states collected taxes from families of four with incomes just above the poverty line. In 2007, the federal poverty line for a family of four was $21,203, and the line for a family of three was $16,530.
Source: Consumers Union, November 11, 2008
First Large Scale Study Finds 73% Are From Health Care Facilities
Consumers Union called on hospitals today to take more aggressive steps to protect patients from Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) infections in light of a new report showing that they are much more common than previous estimates had indicated. As the rate of hospital acquired C.-diff. infections has jumped in recent years, an increasing number of patients have developed antibiotic-resistant strains of the infection that are more difficult to treat and more deadly.
The report released by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) found that 13 out of every 1,000 patients or approximately 7,178 inpatients on any one given day were infected or colonized with C. diff (94.4 percent were infected). The rate is 6.5 to 20 times higher than previous incidence estimates that were based on more limited data. The report estimated that every day these infections cost between $17.6 million to $51.5 million and kill between 165 and 438 patients.
Source: Sarah Axeen and Elizabeth Carpenter, New America Policy Papers, November 2008
The U.S. health care system is in crisis. Health care costs too much; we often get too little in exchange for our health care dollar; and tens of millions of Americans are uninsured. Our economy loses hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of the diminished health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured. Rising health care costs undermine the ability of U.S. firms to compete internationally, threaten the stability of American jobs, and place increasing strain on local, state, and federal budgets. As health care costs continue to rise faster than wages, health insurance becomes more and more unaffordable for more and more American families every day.
Source: Cynthia M. Cready, Dale E. Yeatts, Melissa M. Gosdin, Commonwealth Fund, October 29, 2008
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who feel empowered tend to perform their duties better, have a higher morale and job satisfaction rate, and are less likely to consider leaving their jobs, a Commonwealth Fund-supported study (subscription required) finds.
Source: Kai Filion, Economic Policy Institute, Economic Snapshot, November 19, 2008
This week’s Snapshot shows how the trend in new claims for unemployment benefits since June makes it abundantly clear how important it is to extend unemployment benefits again.
Source: Mark Nord, Margaret Andrews, Steven Carlson, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Report Number 66, November 2008
Eighty-nine percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2007, meaning that all household members had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The remaining households (11.1 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year. About one-third of food-insecure households (4.1 percent of all U.S. households) had very low food security–meaning that the food intake of one or more adults was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food. Prevalence rates of food insecurity and very low food security were essentially unchanged from those in 2005 and 2006. The typical food-secure household spent 35 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Just over half of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs during the month prior to the survey.
Source: Stephen G. Katsinas, Terrence A. Tollefson, and Becky A. Reamey, American Association of Community Colleges, 2008
Changing state revenues have prompted heightened concern about the immediate short- and long-term future and stability of state investments in higher education. Just what is going on in the field in terms of access, funding, and overall support for community colleges? These are the questions that originally spurred the need for a formal survey of funding issues in U.S. community colleges. This report summarizes the perceptions gleaned from community college state directors (or their designees) during the third administration of the survey in 2007. It is offered as a barometer of the current situation and future prospects for community college funding and access.
Source: PBS NOW, Week of 10.24.08
From the summary:
According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shortage of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation’s nursing schools.
– Audio: Stream | Download
– In Your State: Nursing Excellence
– A Week in the Life: Nurse Joannie
Source: Alliance for Health Reform, November 7, 2008
The Massachusetts model, enacted in 2006, is being watched closely for lessons that might guide national efforts to reduce the number of uninsured and underinsured nationally. The ranks of the uninsured in Massachusetts have dropped dramatically, yet questions remain. Precisely, how is the pursuit of universal coverage progressing in Massachusetts? What impact, if any, are the reforms having on insurance costs? Are the newly insured able to actually get the care they need? Is subsidized coverage “crowding out” employer-sponsored coverage? How are employers responding to the reforms more generally? Can the state afford the subsidies as economic problems affect tax revenues? To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund sponsored a November 7 luncheon briefing.
– The Business of Health Reform: Measuring the Pulse of the Employer – Blue Cross
Source: Sara R. Collins, Commonwealth Fund, October 21, 2008
The soaring costs of health care and stagnant household incomes are leaving many working families without insurance or with medical expenses that consume a large share of their budgets.