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Research Roundup: Policies to Revive the Economy, Soaring Insurance Costs, Insurance Exchanges, and Much More
PSN on May 28, 2009 - 10:25am
Reports on policies to revive the economy:
- Increases in minimum wage boost consumer spending - The recent increases in the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour that will be fully implemented by this summer has increased consumer spending by billions of dollars, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This emphasizes that raising wages should be a key focus for policies to revive the economy.
- Rural Workers Would Benefit from Unemployment Insurance Modernization - Because rural workers are more likely to work part-time, this Carsey Institute report argues they are likely to benefit from modernizing unemployment insurance to include part-time workers -- a key goal of the federal recovery plan's unemployment insurance spending requirements.
- Federal Fiscal Relief Is Working As Intended: The Cases of New York and Virginia - These case studies by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities on these two major states show that federal fiscal assistance is having its intended effect of enabling states to balance their budgets with fewer cuts in public services and greater support for anti-recession spending.
New reports on soaring insurance costs, insurance exchanges and stripped-down health plans:
- Too Great a Burden- Nearly one in four Americans under age 65 spend over 10% of their income on health care costs and some (18.7 million Americans) spend over 25% of their incomes on health costs in 2009, according to this report by Familes USA. The vast majority of these people (82.6 percent) have health insurance.
- Premiums Soaring in Consolidated Health Insurance Market: Lack of Competition Hurts Rural States, Small Businesses - This Health Care for America Now (HCAN) report documents that insurance companies in many markets control local markets to the extent that premiums have increased 87% in the past six years. The report indicates the need both for anti-trust investigations and the creation of the choice of a public plan option in health care reform.
- CoverTN, Tennessee’s Barebones Health Plan: A Case Study- This Families USA report on Tennessee's limited-benefit, barebones health plan documents how CoverTN has left consumers in a lurch and is a poor model of how to go about covering the uninsured.
- Designing Benefit Standards For a Health Insurance Exchange and Ensuring Affordable Health Coverage and Health Care Services in an Insurance Exchange - These two reports by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities emphasize the care and affordability standards that are needed to make any insurance exchange work to bring down costs and improve choice by American consumers.
How to Discuss Specific Social Justice Issues within a Human Rights Framework: Public Opinion Research Findings - This Opportunity Agenda report provides an in-depth analysis of public opinion polling on how Americans think about the idea of human rights in the context of modern policy debates, from how they think about health care as a "right" to who deserves to have human rights protected and who may not.
Majority Authorizations and Union Organizing in the Public Sector: A Four-State Perspective - This four-university report finds that, in four states where public employees can form unions by signing up a majority of workes (so-called "card check" procedures), the process works well and without any of the potential problems of employee coercion that are sometimes raised against the process.
Online Learning for Low Skill Adults - This report by Rutgers Center for Women and Work and CWA's Speed Matters documents the ways that innovative use of information technology—personal computers and high speed broadband—can be cost-effective in helping working adults expand their skills and move beyond entry-level jobs.