New Chartbook Provides the Essentials of Medi-Cal

Source: California Health Care Foundation, May 2007

Summary
The main source of health insurance for one in six Californians, Medi-Cal is the nation’s largest Medicaid program covering 6.6 million people. Medi-Cal pays for nearly half of all births in the state, two-thirds of nursing home residents, and brings in more than $20 billion in federal funds to California’s health care providers.

The third edition of Medi-Cal Facts and Figures provides the essential elements of this massive program, including new information on enrollment, benefits and cost sharing, program spending and cost drivers. It also features key trends and comparisons with other states, describes the important role that Medi-Cal serves in California’s health care system, and examines several challenges facing the program.

Mental Health Screens for Corrections

Source: Julian Ford and Robert L. Trestman, and Fred Osher, Jack E. Scott, Henry J. Steadman, and Pamela Clark Robbins, National Institute of Justice, NCJ 216152, May 2007

This National Institute of Justice report provides information on two projects designed to create and validate mental health screening instruments that corrections staff can use during intake. Included in the report are questionnaires that accurately identify inmates who require mental health interventions.

Innerworkings: A Look at Mental Health in Today’s Workplace

Source: Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, May 2007

Employee Benefit News, a leading publication for HR professionals, and the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, are proud to release the results of a national survey in which employers from across the country selected mental illness as the health issue that has the most effect on indirect costs. The Innerworkings: A Look at Mental Health in Today’s Workplace survey points to an overwhelming need for better education of frontline managers and employees on this critical health issue.
+ Press Release

2007 Total Compensation Benchmarking Survey

Source: International Public Management Association for Human Resources, May 2007

The focus of this survey is variable pay—what types of practices are government agencies utilizing to affect their workforces and how effective are these practices? Some highlights from the survey include:

• More than three-quarters of all organizations have a defined pay philosophy
• Most organizations use the traditional grade and step systems although a significant number are using other systems
• Three quarters of respondents offer uniform allowances
• Hiring bonuses are more common at the federal level than at the city or county level
• Less than half of respondents use variable pay
• Of those that do, pay for performance is the most common
• There is a strong correlation between funding levels and the perceived success of the variable pay program
• Fifteen percent of organizations utilize broadbanding
• Thirteen respondents have a gainsharing program in place.
+ Press Release

Evolving Beyond Traditional Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance

Source: Stuart M. Butler, The Brookings Institution, Hamilton Project Discussion Paper 2007-06, May 2007

For most working-age families, health insurance coverage is directly connected to the workplace. But because of structural weaknesses in this traditional form of coverage, it is steadily eroding, especially for workers in the small business sector. The health insurance system needs to evolve along a different path if it is to adapt to the goals and needs of today’s workforce. Unfortunately, existing laws and insurance arrangements obstruct that evolution. Three key steps are needed to achieve a gradual transformation without disrupting the successful parts of the system.

First, states should establish “insurance exchanges.” Exchanges would offer an array of coverage options, and families could retain their chosen plan from workplace to workplace with the same tax benefits as those available for traditional employer-sponsored plans. Second, most employers should become facilitators, rather than sponsors, of coverage. While many large employers would continue to sponsor coverage, most employers would hand over sponsorship to an insurance exchange and focus on providing administrative support for their employees’ insurance choices. Third, the federal government should reform the tax treatment of health to focus help on lower-income families.
+ Full policy brief

Working Sick, Getting Stiffed: How Some of America’s Biggest Companies Fail Their Workers and Jeopardize Public Health

Source: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Inc. (ACORN), March 1, 2007

ACORN’s Healthy Workers, Healthy Families Campaign calls on businesses to provide workers with a fair number of paid sick days a year. We also call on Congress and state legislatures to pass laws guaranteeing that all workers have paid sick days.

Nearly half of American private-sector workers have no guaranteed paid sick days – yet everyone gets sick and everyone needs time to get well. Workers also have families and responsibilities to care for sick children and other relatives who need them.

ACORN called 50 of the largest food service and retail companies operating in America and asked if they provided their hourly workers with paid sick days. Despite the close contact with the public that characterizes jobs in these industries, a near-majority of the companies for which we gathered information were clear that they did not offer paid sick days to hourly employees.

The High Cost of Teacher Turnover

Source: National Commission On Teaching And America’s Future, Policy Brief

America’s schools are struggling with a growing teacher dropout problem that is costing the nation over $7 billion a year. It is draining resources, diminishing teaching quality, and undermining our ability to close the student achievement gap.

The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) estimates that the national cost of public school teacher turnover could be over $7.3 billion a year. This new estimate is significantly higher than the most recent estimate of $4.9 billion in annual costs that was made in a report by the Alliance for Excellent Education in 2005, and takes into account recent increases in the size of the teacher workforce and the rate of teacher turnover.

A Parity Plan For Dual Eligibles: The Home and Community Services Copayment Equity Act of 2007

Source: Maribeth Bersani, Nursing Homes: Long Term Care Management, Vol. 56 no. 6, June 2007

Before January 2006 and the implementation of Medicare Part D, dual-eligible assisted living residents (those who receive Medicaid and Medicare benefits) were exempted from remitting co-payments for their prescription drugs. The exemption from co-payments was also applicable to individuals residing in skilled nursing homes, as well.

Under the new Medicare Part D program, however, dual-eligible residents in assisted living communities are not exempt from prescription drug co-payments. This has created a severe financial hardship for these residents who are already living on very low incomes. The only discretionary income most of these residents have is a Personal Needs Allowance (PNA)—frequently less than $60 per month. Residents use the PNA to pay for clothing, personal hygiene items, over-the-counter medications, and any other necessary items they need. To have to use this meager allowance to cover prescription drug co-pays is a true hardship.

When I’m 64: How Boomers Will Change Health Care

Source: American Hospital Association, May 2007

From press release:

The over-65 population will nearly triple between 1980 and 2030 as a result of the aging Baby Boomers, adding new demands and challenges on an already stressed-out health system, according to a new report released today by First Consulting Group of Long Beach, Calif. With new projections on Boomer health into 2030, the report details how this powerful population will impact health care for decades to come.

The first Boomers will turn 65 in 2011 and, according to today’s report, more than 37 million of them – six out of 10 – will be managing more than one chronic condition by 2030. Also by 2030:
• 14 million Boomers will be living with diabetes – that’s one out of every four Boomers.
• Almost half of the Boomers will live with arthritis and that number peaks to just over 26 million in 2020.
• More than one out of three Boomers – over 21 million – will be considered obese.

New Study: The Impressive Return on Investment (ROI) of Pennsylvania Public Libraries

Source: Resource Shelf, June 12, 2007 at 12:59 am

From the announcement:
Librarians have been saying for years that public libraries are a bargain. Now they’ve got the numbers to prove it. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science, Pennsylvania taxpayers receive a return of $5.50 for every $1 they invest in public libraries in Pennsylvania. That means a return of $55 for every $10 of local, state and federal taxes we invest in supporting our public libraries… The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) is collaborating with Pennsylvania’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which commissioned the study, to spread the word about the results. This study is part of a state-by-state national project.
Direct to Full Text of Report: Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania Public Libraries