Research Roundup: States Respond to Citizens United, The Cost of Criminal Justice Debt, New Numbers on Medicaid and the ACA, and More

In this week’s Research Roundup: Reports from Families USA on the deadly consequences of being uninsured, the Corporate Reform Coalition surveying all 50 states’ legislative responses to the Citizens United ruling, the National Employment Law Project on the looming financial cliff for the long-term unemployed, the Urban Institute on how states would spend at least $90 billion less with the Affordable Care Act than without it, the Center for American Progress on the effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Medicaid, the Guttmacher Institute takes on declining but still worrying state legislative trends around attacks on reproductive rights so far in 2012, and the Brennan Center for Justice on the growing costs of criminal justice debt to states and communities.

Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured — This report from Families USA, released in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act but opening a door for states to refuse the expansion of Medicaid without seeing their entire federal Medicaid funding withheld, aims to estimate the number of people in each state who die prematurely due to a lack of health coverage. Among its findings are that, across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010 — approximately 72 people who die prematurely every day. The report includes state-by-state data on the number of uninsured Americans who die prematurely, underscoring the importance for each state to take full advantage of the funding provided for under the Affordable Care Act to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more families.

Sunlight State By State After Citizens United: How State Legislation Has Responded to Citizens United — In the wake of last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down a century-old Montana campaign finance law, this report from the Corporate Reform Coalition explores the different efforts afoot in the states to respond to the Citizens United ruling and the accompanying increased corporate influence in state elections. Following the original ruling over two years ago, which only applied to federal election law, twenty-two of the fifty states had to look at their existing state laws and decide on a response — with Montana ultimately the only one of the 22 to neither “repeal their independent expenditure prohibition laws” nor “issue interpretations that declared the laws unenforceable.” This report comprehensively surveys the responses of all 50 states on actions to increase disclosure requirements, and highlights some of the more innovative approaches states are considering to mitigate the damage to democracy stemming from the ruling. Some of these creative provisions include: requiring the names of the top contributors to be listed in the ad (Alaska, California and North Carolina), requiring that corporate board members approve independent spending (Iowa), requiring that shareholders be informed of corporate political spending directly (Maryland, and mandating that the CEO of the corporation appear in the ad (Connecticut).

Looming Financial Cliff for Long-Term Unemployed — Many workers who have lost their jobs since the beginning Great Recession exhausted state unemployment benefits have been getting thanks to the reauthorization of federal programs. This fact sheet from the National Employment Law Project highlights the potential crisis quickly approaching for long-term unemployed, as workers who lose their jobs and file for unemployment will as of this month no longer be eligible for any federal unemployment benefits after running out of state benefits (usually 26 weeks). With job growth still sluggish and the unemployment rate still stagnant, the fact sheet notes that the federal benefits “have played a critical role in maintaining the economic security of millions of Americans during the Great Recession.” It notes that less than half of all unemployed workers actually currently receive unemployment insurance, and points towards an even bigger financial cliff for the long-term unemployed looming on the calendar in December, when all federal unemployment insurance programs are scheduled to expire.

Consider Savings as Well as Costs: State Governments Would Spend at Least $90 Billion Less With the ACA than Without It from 2014 to 2019 — This “timely analysis” from the Urban Institute highlights just how much state governments may stand to gain from implementing the Affordable Care Act fully. With state-by-state data included, the authors write that their analysis shows that “total state savings would exceed states’ new costs, as federal dollars substitute for projected state and local spending without the ACA, and as states eliminate current Medicaid eligibility for adults who qualify for federal subsidies in the exchange.” The bottom line: states are estimated to spend “$92 to $129 billion less under the ACA than without it over the same time period, between 2014 and 2019.” The estimated savings for each state may even be conservative, as the authors note that their state-specific estimates “do not reflect the full measure of savings that states will experience under the ACA.”

Interactive Map: Why the Supreme Court's Ruling on Medicaid Creates Uncertainty for Millions6 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Medicaid Expansion — These two resources from the Center for American Progress clarify the current state of play around states and Medicaid expansion. An interactive 50-state map tracks the states where governors have indicated they intend to reject the expansion and those who have already committed to expanding the program, as well as the what residents of those states stand to gain or lose in terms of coverage depending on their states’ ultimate decisions. An explainer on what the Medicaid decision means highlights six key takeaways from the decision critical for state policymakers.

State Legislative Trends at Midyear 2012 — An update from the Guttmacher Institute takes a look at trends around state attacks on reproductive rights so far in 2012 legislative sessions. While the number of restrictions on abortion introduced or approved by a state legislative chamber looks like it will ultimately be similar to the number seen in 2011, a much lower percentage of those restrictions look likely to become law. The report notes that “30% of the abortion restrictions passed by one chamber so far this year have been enacted, a significantly lower proportion than the 51% that had been signed into law by this point in 2011.” With the majority of sessions having drawn to a close, states have so far enacted 95 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights, including 39 new restrictions on access to abortion. While this is much lower than the record-breaking 80 such restrictions that had been enacted by this point in 2011, it is still a higher number than was ever seen in any year prior to 2011 — underscoring the fact that legislative efforts by opponents of reproductive rights in the states unfortunately continue to be at an historically high level.

Criminal Justice Debt: A Toolkit for Action — The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law published this resource which takes a close look at the increasing number and amounts of fees being charged by states throughout the criminal justice system, including fees for public defenders, jail fees, prison fees, court administrative fees, prosecution fees, probation fees, and parole fees. Arguing that “many criminal justice debt-collection practices employed today violate the Constitution,” the report highlights the many problems caused by these debt collection policies create for states and communities: fiscal costs to the state, increased burdens on criminal justice systems, and deep social costs to communities and families, concluding that, “instead of raising revenues, these fees and fines may actually increase the costs for local governments, and increase the likelihood of recidivism.” An included toolkit also includes recommended policies for reform and action materials to aid state campaigns to battle this growing problem.