Reports on Higher Poverty Numbers, Health Care For Young People, Smart Grid, And More

The Young Person's Guide to Health Insurance - This report from U.S. PIRG and Families USA outlines what young people gain under the new federal health law and actions they can take to protect their rights against insurance companies.  It outlines basic information young people should know about health insurance and resources for getting more information.

How States Can Improve the Health Care System: Four Steps for Health Care Reform - Arguing that states need new approaches to managing health care systems, this Center for American Progress report argues for four major approaches: tackle administrative costs, push the information revolution, lead payment reform, and be open to innovation.  Applying tools now available through the federal health law, states can potentially lower the growth rate of medical spending by 1.5 percentage points per year, saving state governments $35 billion annually by the end of this decade and $140 billion annually by the end of the next decade.

A range of reports on higher poverty numbers:

Lessons from SEED, a National Demonstration of Child Development Accounts - Using data from 1100 children using Child Development Accounts, this report finds that savings accounts that are started as early as birth allow parents and children to accumulate savings for college, home ownership and business opportunities and serve as a basis for more stable and productive financial futures for American families.  The report was co-written by the Center for Social Development, the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), the Initiative on Financial Security at the Aspen Institute, the New America Foundation and theUniversity of Kansas School of Social Welfare.

Midwest Economic Recovery at a Crossroads: Challenges and Opportunities for Individuals with Barriers to Work - In the Midwest, adults age 25 to 64 without a high school degree were 3.8 times more likely to be unemployed than those with a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to a new report from the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.  The report recommends implementing a more effective workforce development system that includes post-secondary education and job training.

Check Please! Health and Safety Conditions in San Francisco Chinatown Restaurants:  Restaurant workers in San Francisco’s Chinatown suffer $8 million per year in stolen wages, according to this report published by the Chinese Progressive Associationthis week.  Half of the world-famous neighborhood’s 2,000 restaurant staff are victims of wage theft, with kitchen workers and dishwashers even more acutely affected:  70% had wages stolen, losing an average of $6,000 per year of income.  The study adds to data from a 2009 study of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, which estimated over $56 million per week in wages stolen from those cities’ 1.1 million low-wage workers.  The Chinatown report also found restaurant staff endure extremely hazardous working conditions, with 48% suffering burns, 40% being cut, and 17% slipping and falling in the last year.

Combining Community Schools with Expanded Learning Time to Help Educationally Disadvantaged Students - This Center for American Progress report examine two school-wide reform models—community schools and expanded learning time—to argue that their combination can help close the achievement gap for educationally disadvantaged students.  Community schools, through results-focused partnerships with community groups, provide services that attend to the academic, physical, mental, social, and emotional needs of children, while extended instruction time allows the school time to really support the development of the whole student—not just his or her academic success.


Protecting Democracy and Consumers in Building Smart Grids:

  • The Challenge of Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Age - This report by Nicol Turner-Lee of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies argues that unequal access to the Internet affects civic engagement when groups are underrepresented, or on the periphery of online activity. The report outlines three primary reasons: affordability, availability, and accessibility. This paper proposes the following recommendations for policy makers: (1) the creation of a partnership with web developers to consider an Internet that empowers and engages people to institute social change; (2) seeding more online macro-communities to engage broad groups of people from all backgrounds, viewpoints, and interests; and (3) the acceleration of access to broadband for underrepresented groups.

    The Need for Essential Consumer Protections: Smart Metering Proposals and The Move to Time-Based Pricing - Consumer protections must be in place before federal and state governments consider smart metering and pricing proposals, argues a joint report by AARP, National Consumer Law Center, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, Consumers Union, and Public Citizen. The report advocates for recognition and incorporation of a robust benefit cost analysis from a consumer perspective in smart grid policies overall and, in particular with smart meter policies. The paper offers solutions, including requiring utilities to share the economic risks of new technologies, consumer protections should not be reduced through implementation of remote disconnection, and consumer education and bill protection programs must be maintained. Dynamic pricing programs should only be voluntary at this stage, since it has not been adequately studied and low-income households tend to be at risk.


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