Getting Ahead Or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility In America

Source: Julia B. Isaacs, Isabel V. Sawhill, and Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, Economic Mobility Project (Pew Charitable Trusts), 2008

Since our nation’s founding, the promise of economic opportunity has been a central component of the American Dream. And while the Dream remains a unifying tenet for an increasingly diverse society, it may be showing signs of wear. Growing income inequality and slower economic growth suggest that now is an important moment to review the facts about opportunity and mobility in America and to attempt to answer the basic question: Is the American Dream alive and well?

This volume, authored by a team of scholars at the Brookings Institution, is one in a series of major research products that aims to further enlighten the public dialogue on economic opportunity. While it offers reassuring findings in some areas, in many others there is room for concern. By arming the public and policy makers with facts about the status of opportunity in America today, this volume seeks to stimulate and frame the debate about which policies are likely to be most effective in ensuring that the American Dream endures for the next century.

Key findings

Targeted at Work

Source: David L. Hudson Jr. and Lawrence D. Rosenthal, Legal Times, February 18, 2008

Victimized employees deserve the Supreme Court’s help against retaliation on the job

Retaliation cases have become significant — both for the workplace and for the Supreme Court. This term alone, the Court is hearing several retaliation cases — including two with oral arguments this week — with important consequences for victimized employees and for the effectiveness of anti-discrimination laws.

Related article:
Employer Retaliation Cases Reach U.S. Supreme Court
Source: Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor, 02/19/2008

Four Million Health Care Workers Needed: How To Recruit Them?

Source: Genevieve Gencianos, PSI

The world lacks more than four million health care workers and this has been clearly stated by the World Health Organisation. This means that every country in the world has a shortage of health care workers. But where will these millions come from? A quick fix for rich countries is to recruit them in poorer ones. PSI is now campaigning for a code of practice in the international recruitment of health care workers.

Bond Crisis Already Crimping States

Source: Daniel C. Vock,, February 15, 2008

Michigan just suspended a state loan program for 8,500 students, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is facing a four-fold jump in interest rates on one of its loans. Both are signs of a new bond-market crisis that is threatening to hurt other cities and states if left unchecked.

Hopes are riding high that famed investor Warren Buffett, the administration of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D), Congress or federal agencies will avert even bigger troubles.

If not, cities and states that issue tax-exempt bonds to raise money for such projects as road and bridge work or rely on investors to raise student-loan money could confront a series of new problems stemming from the subprime mortgage meltdown.

Culture Change in a For-Profit-Nursing Home Chain: An Evaluation

Source: Leslie A. Grant, Commonwealth Fund, Volume 85, February 13, 2008

Beverly Healthcare–one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains–launched a culture change initiative in 2002, called resident-centered care (RCC). This report presents findings from a 12-month evaluation of that initiative. While most prior culture change models had been implemented by nonprofit organizations in a small number of facilities, this project marked a major departure for the culture change movement because it was the first time that a large national for-profit chain implemented culture change. The RCC initiative was successful in that it introduced new organizational practices, made improvements in resident quality of life (e.g., in choice and autonomy), and created better work environments for staff. The RCC initiative did not achieve short-term financial gains. The business case for culture change, however, should be based on long-term goals to reposition the nursing home within an evolving continuum of care.

Reducing Overtime Expenditures Using the Fluctuating Workweek Method

Source: C. W. von Bergen, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 33, no. 4, Spring 2008

Modifications to the Fair Labor Standards Act recently promulgated by the Department of labor (DOL) as the FairPay Overtime Initiative have produced an increasing number of workers subject to overtime payments and a concomitant increase in labor costs for firms. To adapt to this changing environment and to control employee expenditures, organizations may wish to examine the applicability of a relatively obscure provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act labeled as the Fluctuating Workweek Scheme. Employers might find this approach attractive because of its advantage of reducing the overtime rate due employees as the number of overtime hours worked increases.

Employees Returning from Military Leave: Newest Potential Legal Liability for Employers

Source: Dan Van Bogaert, Employee Relations Law Journal, Vol. 33, no. 4, Spring 2008

More than a quarter of a million soldiers have returned from military service to their previous civilian jobs in recent years. What this means is employers need to pay closer attention to the recruitment, selection, and retention of employees with military backgrounds. Because of the pervasive scope military conflict throughout the world today, there are increasing numbers of employees and job applicants with military service backgrounds. Therefore, most employers are affected by this circumstance, even those organizations that may not currently employ workers who are on military leave.

Although some of the concerns regarding post traumatic stress disorder have been exaggerated, employers still face many challenges relating to employees returning from military leave. This article thoroughly examines these challenges and related legal responsibilities of employers, and offers practical guidelines for human resources management.

Primary Care Professionals: Recent Supply Trends, Projections, and Valuation of Services

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-472T, February 12, 2008

Most of the funding for programs under title VII of the Public Health Service Act goes toward primary care medicine and dentistry training and increasing medical student diversity. Despite a longstanding objective of title VII to increase the total supply of primary care professionals, health care marketplace signals suggest an undervaluing of primary care medicine, creating a concern about the future supply of primary care professionals–physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and dentists. This concern comes at a time when there is growing recognition that greater use of primary care services and less reliance on specialty services can lead to better health outcomes at lower cost.

GAO was asked to focus on (1) recent supply trends for primary care professionals, including information on training and demographic characteristics; (2) projections of future supply for primary care professionals, including the factors underlying these projections; and (3) the influence of the health care system’s financing mechanisms on the valuation of primary care services.

GAO obtained data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and organizations representing primary care professionals. GAO also reviewed relevant literature and position statements of these organizations.

Head Start: A More Comprehensive Risk Management Strategy and Data Improvements Could Further Strengthen Program Oversight

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-08-221, February 12, 2008

In February 2005, GAO issued a report that raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) oversight of about 1,600 local organizations that receive nearly $7 billion in Head Start grants. GAO was asked to report on (1) ACF’s progress in conducting a risk assessment of the Head Start program and ensuring the accuracy and reliability of data from its annual Program Information Report (PIR) survey of grantees, (2) efforts to improve on-site monitoring of grantees, and (3) how data are used to improve oversight and help grantees meet program standards. For this report, GAO surveyed a nationally representative sample of Head Start program directors and interviewed ACF officials. GAO also reviewed ACF studies on the validity of PIR data and conducted tests of data from the 2006 PIR database.

Poll Finds Americans Split by Political Party Over Whether Socialized Medicine Better or Worse Than Current System

Source: Harvard School of Public Health, Press release, February 14, 2008

During the course of the presidential nomination campaign, some candidates’ health care plans have been described as ‘socialized medicine’. Historically, the phrase socialized medicine has been used to attack health reform proposals in the U.S. However, a new poll by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Harris Interactive finds that Americans are split on whether a socialized medical system would be better or worse than the current system. Among those who say they have at least some understanding of the phrase (82%), a plurality (45%) says such a system would be better while 39 percent say it would be worse. Twelve percent say they do not know and four percent say about the same.

The poll shows striking differences by party identification. Seventy percent of Republicans say that socialized medicine would be worse than our current system. The same percentage of Democrats (70%) say that a socialized medical system would be better than our current system. Independents are more evenly split with 43% saying socialized medicine would be better and 38% worse.
Americans’ Views on Socialized Medicine