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.
Maintaining accurate voter rolls and ensuring that all eligible voters who register to vote actually make it onto voting rolls are two of the most important functions of election administration.If an eligible voter cannot vote because his name doesn't appear on the voter roll used in an election, the problem will not be addressed by the federal guarantee of a provisional ballot. Such a ballot cannot register a person to vote, it can only preserve a ballot in the case the voter rolls at the precinct are mistaken or the
$287 billion -- that is how much the U.S. spent
on pharmaceuticals in 2007, representing a significant driver of health
care costs. While spending on hospital and physician care surpass
spending on prescriptions, drugs still account for 14% of all health care expenditures. Combine this with polls that show 70% of Americans believe the drug industry puts profits ahead of people, and it's no wonder that in 2008, at least 540 bills
and resolutions are being considered by states across the country to
reduce prescription drug prices, ensure the quality of medications
covered by public and private health plans, and reduce the undue
influence of pharmaceutical industry marketing - which itself tops out
at $30 billion each year.
Oregon held an experimental even-year session in February that
lasted just three weeks. Designed as a test for a possible switch to
yearly legislative sessions (Oregon is one of 6 state legislatures that
only meets once every two years), the short duration left little time
for resolving controversial issues. Several bills, however, were
passed that implement small but important progressive reforms. These
reforms were focused on children, families, and the environment.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared this
year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al
Gore, recently released a
report detailing the negative environmental changes that will result from
climate change, including higher temperatures leading to increased deaths
from more severe heat waves, increased incidence of infectious
diseases, and severe damage to ecosystems. The IPCC report
warned that there were only eight years left to act to prevent the
worst effects of global warming.
The effects of the sub-prime lending disaster are
being felt as the stock market has been rocked in
recent weeks and many families find themselves locked out of the
mortgage market. As we
in the past, the subprime mortgage market was largely aimed at
economically-strapped families trying to find some way to afford
homes. For low-income renters who never had the money to
even be in the game, rising rents have increasingly priced them
out of their homes.
session, the Iowa legislature broke a long standing stalemate
and added sexual orientation to its civil rights laws.
427 makes it illegal to discriminate in employment, public
accomodation, credit, housing and education based on a person's sexual
orientation or gender identity. In passing the bill, the Iowa
legislature simply extended the protections they offer to everyone else to gay
and transgender citizens. As House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy
"This was not some sort of liberal social agenda. This is just saying
that under housing and employment, people shouldn't be discriminated against
because of their real or perceived sexual orientation."
Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin. The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:
little fanfare, the New York General Assembly and Governor
Eliot Spitzer enacted a budget in early April that includes
care for essentially all children. The budget increased SCHIP
eligibility for children in families with incomes up to 400% of poverty
($80,000 for a family of four) and allows families above 400% without
other options to purchase the SCHIP coverage at full-cost, which is still
cheaper and likely more comprehensive than private options. Premiums for
families below 400% of poverty will be set at $20, $30 and $40 per child
depending on income.