Absent a national health care
policy, states have found ways to expand the reach of Medicaid by
covering more low-income, senior and disabled people and expanding the
list of covered services. Because of state action, 58 million
Americans now have health coverage they would not otherwise possess.
To push back on the states, the Bush Administration put forward several new Medicaid regulations
last year that, if implemented, will shift the burden and costs to
states. This will result in reduced benefits for millions of Americans
unless already cash-strapped states find some way to pick up the slack
- to the tune of $50 billion over five years.
The Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved SF 2416,
a bill to sharply increase fines on employers violating Iowa state wage
laws, crack down on the practice of misclassifying employees as
"independent contractors" to evade those laws, and protect workers
reporting violations from retaliation.
Brooklyn, NY - At a press conference this
afternoon, New York State Representative James Brennan (D, Brooklyn)
and State Senator Frank Padavan (R, Queens) unveiled a new bill that
would place a one year moratorium on all court-ordered foreclosures in
As Congress debates a stimulus to the economy in the wake of the
housing bust, many economists are urging federal leaders to make aid to
state governments a core part of the package. While direct tax rebates
for individuals can help, it will not do much for the economy if states
are forced to cut back on critical spending on public works, health
care, and education at the same time. As Nobel prize-winning economist
Joseph Stiglitz, who was also chair of the President's Council of
Economic Advisors in the 1990s, wrote this week in the New York Times:
The statistics are shocking. The current mortgage crisis is expected to result in the foreclosure of 3 million homes. In Stockton, CA, one in every 27 homes has been hit by the foreclosure crisis. And, Countryside, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, just released
figures showing that foreclosures and late payments rose in December to
the highest on record. Calls to helplines by homeowners facing
foreclosure have skyrocketed. As a corollary, local animal shelters are seeing a sharp increase in intake due to owners having to surrender family pets when they lose their homes.
Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration's proposal for fixing the subprime lending crisis is an industry-led deal that involves completely voluntary actions to fix the current crisis and will ultimately help only a few of the millions of people who have either lost or are in danger of losing their homes. With absolute failure at the federal level, it is again up to states to step in. In two recent editorialpieces, the executive directors of the Progressive States Network and the Drum Major Institute called on New York Governor Spitzer to impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures to stop the rapidly increasing rate of home loss, a policy all governors should enact. A moratorium would give lenders incentive to restructure loans on fair terms and fight back against the Wall-street backed predatory lenders.
With the 2008 legislative session and his January State of the State speech approaching, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has the perfect opportunity to establish a clean slate and blast open the morass of partisan gridlock that has surrounded his most recent efforts at reform.
In the age of Google, citizens expect to be able to find core
information on the Internet about government operations, but as a major
new report being released today highlights, most states are failing on