Federal Grants To States And Localities Cut Deeply In Fiscal Year 2008 Federal Budget

Source: Iris J. Law, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 6, 2007

Grants to state and local governments have long been an important way in which the federal government supports and administers programs efficiently. The new budget, however, continues to significantly erode those grants. This leaves states and localities the option of either curtailing services or increasing their own taxes to compensate for declining federal funds.

Direct Democracy’s Disaster

Source: John Straayer, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
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Through the initiative process, Colorado recently passed a law with loads of unintended consequences.

Colorado’s Amendment 41 carried the short title, “Standards of Conduct in Government,” and passed with 62.6 percent of the vote. A constitutional amendment, 41 was intended to restrict gift-giving by interest groups and lobbyists to elected public officials and others in positions of public trust. It was also designed to prevent legislators from immediately becoming lobbyists after their terms of office.

But its consequences to date include issuance of official opinions to the effect that scholarships for children of public employees and performance awards for employees are probably illegal; the resignation of more than a half-dozen legislators; questions as to whether the newly elected governor may legally recruit legislators for positions in his cabinet; and the curtailment of Capitol breakfasts, which had been enjoyed by legislators, staffers and student interns for decades.

Plunging into the Gene Pool

Source: Alissa Johnson, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
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Even though the legal landscape has changed, concerns about the abuse of genetic testing persist.

Is your genetic information safe? Sixteen years have passed since Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson signed the first state law to prevent genetic discrimination in March 1991. A tidal wave of genetics legislation followed, propelled by the anticipated completion of the Human Genome Project to sequence and map the genes that make up a human being. Public fears continue, however, over the possible abuse of genetic testing technology.

Tough Act to Follow

Source: Linda Sikkema and Melissa Savage, State Legislatures, Vol. 33 no. 3, March 2007
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As the Federal government wrestles with its role in controlling greenhouse gasses, one state hasn’t hesitated to attack global warming.

Massachusetts is suing the Environmental Protection Agency to force regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in a case that is before the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue is whether the Clean Air Act requires EPA to control these gases, which contribute to global warming. States are split on either side of the issue in Massachusetts v. EPA, with 11 states siding with Massachusetts and 10 with the federal government.

Consumer-Directed Plans Cost Women $1,000 More Per Year Than Men

Source: BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter, Vol. 36 no. 16, April 17, 2007
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Consumer-directed health care plans cost working-age women about $1,000 more per year out of pocket than men, and are therefore “discriminatory” against women, according to a report by Harvard Researchers at Cambridge Health Alliance. CDHPs also cost middle-aged adults far more than younger participants, and raise costs substantially for those with even mild chronic conditions, the report says.

Don’t Whistle While You Work

Source: Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones, Vol. 32 no. 3, May/June 2007

A series of court rulings, legal changes, and new security and secrecy policies have made it easier than at any time since the Nixon era to punish whistleblowers; the climate has deteriorated in recent years with the Bush administration’s emphasis plugging leaks and locking down government information.

The Incredible Future of Home Care and Hospice

Source: Robert Fazzi and Lynn Harlow, Caring, Vol. 26 no. 3, March 2007

If you thought the past of home care and hospice was something, wait until you see the future. Home care and hospice are going to grow in the number of people they serve, and in the scope, clinical, and programmatic sophistication of their services. We will do more, serve more, and play a far bigger role in the future of health care than most people can imagine, and it’s inevitable.

Before you start thinking that these are the dreams of home care and hospice professionals, consider what the United States Department of Labor (2005) says; “The home health care services industry, which provides such in-home services as nursing and physical therapy, has the distinction of becoming the nation’s fastest growing employer by 2014.”