Income Inequality

Source: NOW, PBS, Show 332, Airdate 8-10-2007

In America, the top one-tenth of one percent of earners makes about the same money per year collectively as the millions of Americans in the bottom fifty percent combined. This is putting a tight squeeze on the middle class, while leaving millions of others in the cold. This week, David Brancaccio talks with Pulitzer prize-winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston, as well as author and advocate Beth Shuman about the state of our country’s vast income divide and how it’s hurting those just trying to make ends meet.
Related stories:
2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 Peak
Source: David Cay Johnston, New York Times, August 21, 2007

New IRS Data Pegs Cost of Special Low Tax Rates on Capital Gains
and Dividends at $92 Billion in 2005 Alone -Three-Quarters of the Tax Cuts Went to Best-Off 0.6 Percent

Source: Steve Wamhoff, Citizens for Tax Justice, August 10, 2007

Offer Rates, Take-Up Rates, Premiums, and Employee Contributions for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in the Private Sector for the 10 Largest Metropolitan Areas, 2005

Source: John P. Sommers, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS, Statistical Brief # 178, July 2007

Employer-sponsored health insurance for current workers is one of the primary sources of health insurance coverage in the United States. According to data from the Insurance Component of the 2005 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-IC), approximately 97.5 million of the 112.2 million employees from the private sector worked in firms where the employer offered health insurance. Of those employees who worked where health insurance was offered, approximately 61.1 million were enrolled.

In recent years, premiums and employee contributions for employer-sponsored health insurance have risen significantly, while offer and enrollment rates have dropped modestly. These values for employer-sponsored health insurance vary considerably by where one lives and other factors, such as size of firm and industry.

State Differences in the Cost of Job- Related Health Insurance, 2005

Source: James M. Branscome, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS, Statistical Brief # 177, July 2007

Health insurance provided by employers is the primary source of medical coverage for most Americans under age 65. The cost of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage varies considerably depending upon where one lives and on the number of persons covered by the plan.

This Statistical Brief presents state variations from the national average of the cost of job-related health insurance and how these costs are shared by employers and their employees. The brief specifically examines the average premiums and employee contributions for private sector establishments in the 10 most populous states in 2005, using the most recent data available from the Insurance Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-IC). Estimates for all other states and the District of Columbia are available on the MEPS Web site.

Printable Maps: 110th Congressional Districts Boundaries Maps

Source: National Atlas

The National Atlas prepared simple maps of each District of the 110th Congress (January 2005-January 2007). These maps of the individual districts cover half of an 8.5- by 11-inch paper when printed. Designed for easy reference, they show the Congressional District overlaid on top of State and county boundaries along with interstate and US highways, selected streams and waterbodies, and major cities. The maps were created for use on the World Wide Web but print well using your home or office printer.

Taking the Lead: 2007 State Legislative Successes in Enacting Progressive Policy

Source: Nathan Newman, J. Mijin Cha, Adam Thompson, Progressive States Network, August 2007

On issues ranging from health care to clean energy to electoral reform to assisting working families, state leaders have stepped up and delivered often precedent-setting reforms. Even on issues like the minimum wage where we have seen some federal action, many states are still delivering higher wage standards and bolder leadership. And on other national issues, states in 2007 took leadership in demanding fairer trade deals and an end of the escalation in Iraq. The bottom line is that states are driving progressive change in the nation.

Universal Health Care for Wisconsin?

Source: David Moberg, In These Times, August 20, 2007

Combining features of “single-payer” proposals that make a public plan the universal insurer with elements of market-oriented “managed competition” proposals, Healthy Wisconsin would cover virtually every state resident not insured under a public program, like Medicare. According to projections by the Lewin Group, a prominent health care consulting firm, it would also save individuals, employers and governments an estimated $13.8 billion on health insurance over the next decade.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Source: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) is a nonprofit consumer organization with a two-part mission — consumer information and consumer advocacy. It was established in 1992 and is based in San Diego, California. It is primarily grant-supported and serves individuals nationwide.

The PRC’s goals are to:
•Raise consumers’ awareness of how technology affects personal privacy.
•Empower consumers to take action to control their own personal information by providing practical tips on privacy protection.
•Respond to specific privacy-related complaints from consumers, intercede on their behalf, and, when appropriate, refer them to the proper organizations for further assistance.
•Document the nature of consumers’ complaints and questions about privacy in reports, testimony, and speeches and make them available to policy makers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and the media.
•Advocate for consumers’ privacy rights in local, state, and federal public policy proceedings, including legislative testimony, regulatory agency hearings, task forces, and study commissions as well as conferences and workshops.

Also in Spanish

Trends in Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations among Adults and Children, 1997-2004

Source: Allison Russo, M.P.H., H. Joanna Jiang, Ph.D., Marguerite Barrett, Healthcare Cost And Utilization Project, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Stastical Brief #36, August 2007

Because of major concerns with both the cost and quality of health care, a priority of policy makers and health care providers is to identify areas where quality improvement and lower costs coincide. Potentially preventable admissions—inpatient stays that could be prevented with high quality primary and preventive care—are one area where higher quality care can cost less. Higher rates of these “preventable hospitalizations” identify areas where potential improvements in the health care delivery system could be made to improve patient outcomes and decrease costs. Changes in these rates over time may signal an improvement or worsening in the quality of ambulatory care, in access to timely and effective treatment of certain conditions for specific populations, or in patient adoption of healthy behaviors.

Healthcare Organizations Launch Disaster Response Initiative

Source: Rx Response, 8/15/2007

From press release:
Health care organizations involved in the manufacturing, distribution and dispensing of pharmaceutical products came together today to announce the creation of Rx Response – a program designed to help support the continued delivery of medicines during a severe public health emergency. The partnership includes the American Hospital Association, American Red Cross, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

More Than 300 Counties Now “Majority-Minority”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, CB07-113, August 9, 2007

Nearly one in every 10 of the nation’s 3,141 counties has a population that is more than 50 percent minority. In 2006, eight counties that had not previously been majority-minority pushed the national total to 303, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

The two largest counties passing this threshold between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006, are Denver County, Colo., and East Baton Rouge Parish, La., with total populations of 566,974 and 429,073, respectively. Three other counties were in Texas (Winkler, Waller and Wharton), with one each in Montana (Blaine), New Mexico (Colfax) and Virginia (Manassas Park, an independent city and considered a county equivalent).

Los Angeles County, Calif., had the largest minority population in the country in 2006. At 7 million, or 71 percent of its total, Los Angeles County is home to one in every 14 of the nation’s minority residents. The county’s minority population is higher than the total population of 38 states, with the largest population of Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians and Alaska Natives in the country. It also has the second largest population of blacks and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.
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