Congressional Testimony– Universal Health Insurance: Why It Is Essential to a High Performing Health System and Why Design Matters

Source: Sara Collins, The Commonwealth Fund, Invited Testimony for the Committee on the Budget, United States Senate Hearing on “Health Care and the Budget: The Healthy Americans Act and Other Options for Reform,” June 26, 2007

Our nation’s failure to provide adequate health insurance to millions is a major factor in the inconsistent performance of the nation’s health system, testified Commonwealth Fund vice president Sara Collins, Ph.D., before the United States Senate.

Do Religious Physicians Disproportionately Care for the Underserved?

Source: Farr A. Curlin, MD, Lydia S. Dugdale, MD, John D. Lantos, MD, and Marshall H. Chin, MD, MPH, Annals of Family Medicine, Vol. 5 no. 4, July/August 2007

Religious traditions call their members to care for the poor and marginalized, yet no study has examined whether physicians’ religious characteristics are associated with practice among the underserved. This study examines whether physicians’ self-reported religious characteristics and sense of calling in their work are associated with practice among the underserved. This study entailed a cross-sectional survey by mail of a stratified random sample of 2,000 practicing US physicians from all specialties.

From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half

Source: Mark Greenberg, Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Elisa Minoff, Report and Recommendations of the Center for American Progress Task Force on Poverty, April 2007

Thirty-seven million Americans live below the official poverty line. Millions more struggle each month to pay for basic necessities, or run out of savings when they lose their jobs or face health emergencies. Poverty imposes enormous costs on society. The lost potential of children raised in poor households, the lower productivity and earnings of poor adults, the poor health, increased crime, and broken neighborhoods all hurt our nation. Persistent childhood poverty is estimated to cost our nation $500 billion each year, or about four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. In a world of increasing global competition, we cannot afford to squander these human resources.

The Center for American Progress last year convened a diverse group of national experts and leaders to examine the causes and consequences of poverty in America and make recommendations for national action. In this report, our Task Force on Poverty calls for a national goal of cutting poverty in half in the next 10 years and proposes a strategy to reach the goal.

State and Local Governments: Persistent Fiscal Challenges Will Likely Emerge within the Next Decade

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-07-1080SP, July 18, 2007

Our simulations for the state and local government sector indicate that in the absence of policy changes, large and growing fiscal challenges for the sector will begin to emerge within the next few years. … As is true for the federal sector, it is the growth in health-related costs that is a primary driver of the fiscal challenges facing the state and local government sector. In particular, two types of state and local expenditures will likely rise quickly because of escalating medical costs. The first is Medicaid expenditures, and the second is the cost of health insurance for state and local employees and retirees. Conversely, we found that other types of expenditures of state and local governments—such as wages and salaries of state and local workers, pension contributions, and investments in capital goods—are expected to grow slightly less than gross domestic product (GDP). At the same time, most revenue growth is expected to be approximately flat as a percentage of GDP. As such, the projected rise in health-related costs is the root of the fiscal difficulties these simulations suggest will occur.

National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan One Year Summary

Source: Homeland Security Council, July 2007

From the summary:
Since the release of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan one year ago, much has been accomplished to realize the U.S. Government’s pandemic preparedness and response goals of: (1) stopping, slowing, or otherwise limiting the spread of a pandemic to the United States; (2) limiting the domestic spread of a pandemic and mitigating disease, suffering, and death; and (3) sustaining infrastructure and mitigating impact to the economy and the functioning of society.

Although the visibility of avian influenza and pandemic preparedness has waned in the media, the threat of avian influenza and the potential for an influenza pandemic has not. A pandemic occurs when a novel strain of influenza virus emerges that has the ability to infect humans and to cause severe disease, and where efficient and sustained transmission between humans occurs. Though we cannot be certain that highly pathogenic avian influenza A H5N1 (H5N1) will spark a pandemic, we can be sure that a pandemic will occur at some point in the future. It is everyone’s responsibility to remain vigilant. We cannot become complacent and must continue to take the threat of a pandemic very seriously.

See also:
Fact Sheet: Implementation of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influence – White House, July 17, 2007
Pandemic Flu: Preparing and Protecting Against Avian Influenza – White House

Issue Brief: Women and Social Security

Source: American Academy of Actuaries, Issue Brief, June 2007

From the press release:
Gender-related differences in the American work culture have resulted in lower Social Security benefits for women, the American Academy of Actuaries Social Insurance Committee said in a new issue brief, “Women and Social Security.” The actuaries cite differences in wage histories, greater probabilities of outliving a spouse and being single in retirement, and the greater likelihood for women to be temporarily out of the workforce, among the differences that cause their benefits to be smaller even though calculated using gender-neutral rules.

The Academy’s issue brief also determines that women, who on average are more likely to have insufficient income in retirement, are in turn more dependent on Social Security. In fact more than 40 percent of females aged 62 or older rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income, as opposed to 28 percent for males aged 62 or older. Additionally poverty rates for single women aged 65 or older are among the highest of any subgroup in the United States.

2007 Annual Survey of America’s Charter Schools

Source: Edited by: Alison Consoletti and Jeanne Allen, Center for Education Reform, April 2007

From press release:
Despite legal challenges, charter schools grew by 11 percent in 2006 and continue to serve a student body that is on average 53 percent minority and 54 percent low-income. Charter school popularity continues to grow among children most in need. In 2006, 42 percent of charter schools served an “at-risk” student population over 60 percent and 44 percent served a minority student population over 60 percent.
See also: Understanding Constitutions & Charter Schools

Databases: U.S. Mayors & U.S. Governors

Source: Resource Shelf, 2007

Governors
The National Governors Association offers a database of containing bio data for both current and past governors.
Many criteria makes creating lists easy. Fields include:
Keyword/ Biography, Religion, Race, Related to other Governors, Colleges attended, Higher offices served, Military Service/ Branch, Awards served, Awards/Honors, Was He or She a Physician or Dentist
As expected you can also limit to dates served in office. Finally, you can browse by state, look or a link to each state in the left rail.

Mayors
The U.S. Conference of Mayors web site is home to a database that provides:
Searchable Directory of U.S. Mayors for Most Major Cities (Mayors at a Glance)
Search by:
Name, City, State, Population
Also, available is the 2007 Mayoral Elections Center that includes:
-Download Scheduled Elections for 2007 (.pdf document)
-List of November 2006 Election Results
-Search the USCM 1999-2005 Mayoral Election Results Database
-View All 1999-2005 Mayoral Election Results by city or date of election

Calendars: 2008 Presidential Primary Calendar

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2007

Stay tuned to this calendar from the National Conference of State Legislatures for updates.

As it stands right now, 32 states and the District of Columbia will hold presidential primaries or caucuses before the end of February. On February 5 alone, 16 states will hold primaries or caucuses. If changes currently under consideration in five states are made, that number could grow to 37 states and D.C.