September 6, 2011
Ezra Klein digs into a few studies that exposes the health and educational pains inflicted on pupils and families as a result of unemployment:
Last year, Mike Konczal flagged a 2009 study by Ann Huff Stevens and Jessamyn Schaller of UC-Davis that examined the relationship between parental job loss and children’s academic achievement, drawing on data about job loss and grade retention from 1996, 2001 and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation:
We find that a parental job loss increases the probability of children’s grade retention by 0.8 percentage points, or around 15 percent. After conditioning on child fixed effects, there is no evidence of significantly increased grade retention prior to the job loss, suggesting a causal link between the parental employment shock and children’s academic difficulties. These effects are concentrated among children whose parents have a high school education or less.
In the end, the researchers concluded, “one percentage point higher unemployment rate leads to a 0.3 percentage point increase in the probability that a child repeats a grade.” If this is true, Konczal points out, the cumulative impact of unemployment is staggering. “There are roughly 55 million students in K-12 in the country right now. If unemployment is 1% higher that means, roughly, 165,000 additional years of schooling will be repeated,” he writes.
But just as children are at higher risk of underachieving, education budgets are being slashed across the country as the economy remains anemic and the politics of austerity have taken hold. It’s a continuous pile-up that could have lasting damage that goes well beyond sheer employment numbers.
August 29, 2011
The interesting part about the above map is the nuance that does not adhere to partisan regions:
States that have passed exchange bills tend to lean Democratic, but it’s by no means a clear dichotomy. Both Nevada and California passed exchange bills under Republican governors;Mississippi and Idaho have, over the past few weeks, become increasingly aggressive about setting up exchanges.
Conversely, not all Democratic-controlled states are moving. Delaware and Rhode Island’s state governments are both controlled by Democrats. Neither has moved exchange legislation. Even here in D.C, an exchange bill has sat in committee since its introduction in February.
June 22, 2011
The White House presents:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg announce new graphic warning labels for tobacco products designed to encourage people to quit and young people to not acquire this dangerous habit. June 21, 2011.
June 6, 2011
AllGov shows what domestic programs we could spend the $7.6 trillion defense budget since 2001 on:
Fill the Medicare Gap: If Congress redirected just one-fifth of the budget increases from 2000 to 2011 for defense spending, it would be enough to eliminate the long-term budget hole in the Medicare program.
Fund Head Start for 15 Years
: Instead of 10 years of warfare in Afghanistan
, the U.S. could have secured 15.6 years of early childhood education and support through Head Start for the same price.
Insure the Uninsured: Another way to spend the Afghanistan war chest would be on the uninsured. The budget for fighting the Taliban is enough to cover every American without health insurance for 1.7 years.
Help State Capitols
: A total of 46 states are facing budget shortfalls this fiscal year. Collectively, they need about $130 billion. Ending the war in Afghanistan and getting entirely out of Iraq
would save $170 billion—more than enough to wipe out the red ink from Albany to Sacramento.
Instead of Iraq…: Even with the end of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. is still spending $50 billion annually to maintain a large contingent of troops in the country. For this same amount of money, Washington could ensure a year’s worth of health care for 24.3 million poor children, or salaries for more than 725,000 elementary school teachers or nearly 830,000 firefighters.
June 2, 2011
After looking at some of the commentary and news, I come away with an ambiguous conclusion. There seems to not be enough data yet, but if a teenage cell phone user was tracked from age 13 to 65, that may pose some solid data for this conversation. Some points worth noting:
Incidence of the most common type of brain cancer in the U.S. has dropped 0.4 percent per year between 1987 and 2007. This would be about the very same period that we all started using cell phones. That doesn’t necessarily mean the drop wouldn’t have been steeper had we not used cell phones. And it doesn’t necessarily mean cell phones don’t have a long-term effect that we may see in years to come. It does mean that brain cancer incidence has plummeted just as cell phone use has taken off.
June 1, 2011
Andrew Sullivan cites a Krugman column with a logically binding quote:
HALF of all health care costs in the US is concentrated in only 5% of the population, and 80% of costs are accounted for by the top quintile! (source: Kaiser Foundation PDF)
So the effect here is that with such a concentration of costs in such a small segment of the population, the ability of the larger population to move the market is highly restricted. You can make 80% of consumers highly price sensitive, but they can only affect a tiny fraction of healthcare spending. And for the generally well, their costs are probably those which are least responsible for the spiraling inflation. They’re not getting $30,000 stents or prolonged ICU stays, or needing complex chronic disease management.
Conversely, those who are high consumers of health care simply cannot be made more price sensitive, since their costs are probably well beyond what they could pay in any event, and for most are well beyond the limits of even a catastrophic health insurance policy.
Once you are told that you need a bypass/chemo/stent/dialysis/NICU etc, etc, etc, the costs are so overwhelming that a consumer cannot possibly pay them out of pocket. Since, by definition, these catastrophic costs are paid by some form of insurance, the consumer cannot have much financial interest in cost containment. For most, when they are confronted with a major or life-threatening illness, their entire focus shifts to survival, and they could care less about the cost
This combats both Obama’s and the Republican approach to reform health care and Medicare. Some more feedback on this can be found here.
May 31, 2011
Surprisingly are 1) mostly in cold regions of the country and unsurprisingly 2) correlated with income, wealth, and innovation. Richard Florida explains:
The fittest metro in America is Minneapolis-St. Paul, according to the annualAmerican Fitness Index™ (AFI), just released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The Twin Cities finished third last year; this year they pushed perennial winner Washington, DC into second place. Their winning rank reflects the cities’ relatively low (and rapidly-diminishing) smoking rate, their above-average percentage of regular exercisers, moderate-to-low rates of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and other chronic concerns, and rising share of farmers’ markets (indicative of a trend towards healthier dining). Boston takes the bronze, with Portland, Oregon fourth and Denver in fifth place. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Oklahoma City ranks as America’s least fit metro, followed by Louisville, Memphis, Birmingham, and Detroit.
Many people think fitness is better in warmer locations. Not so much. Each of the top five metros is pretty chilly, and the top ranked Twin Cities are among the coldest locations in the United States–certainly compared to warm and sunny LA, which languishes in 41st place. Our analysis found no correlation between fitness and January temp and a negative correlation between fitness and July temperature (-.49).
From The Biggest Loser to Oprah’s documented struggles with her weight, fitness is a signal obsession of American popular culture. We suffer from no dearth of health, fitness, and nutritional experts; celebrities, politicians, and even first ladies exhort us to eat better, exercise more, and get fit. But we need to face up to the fact that healthy or unhealthy lifestyles are not simply the result of good or bad individual decisions. They are inextricably tied up with the nature and structure of our culture and society. America’s increasingly uneven geography of fitness is perhaps the most visible symbol of its fundamental economic and class divide.
May 26, 2011
I have heard from some people close to me that their health care rates have gone up since Obama passed his health care bill. I don’t know for sure if those two are correlated directly. What I have seen is the rise in young Americans being covered by insurance, which ultimately can help bring down costs:
The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents’ health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.
Because the under 26 crowd tends not to get sick, adding them to the insurance pools helps bring the very balance that was intended by the new law. The more healthy people available to pay for those in the pool who are ill (translation- the older people), the better the system works and the lower our premium charges should go.
One cannot help but notice that the health insurance companies turned in record profits for the first quarter of 2011 due, according the insurance companies, to fewer people seeking medical treatment.
When you add into their customer base a large number of people who are paying premiums but are less likely to get sick (the young adult demographic), this would be the expected result.
May 24, 2011
Let’s start with the first interesting story: A Chicago school has banned packing lunches in hopes of having kids eat school lunch (which they label as more healthy). I wonder how legal this is, but I do know that schools give dozens of choices to eat and may be better in some (not all) cases for kids. (Pictured: NPR - it comes from a slideshow of school foods from around the world)
Also, foreign countries are now buying land in Africa to grow crops for themselves.
May 18, 2011
No, this isn’t an Onion article.
May 17, 2011
From our military budget ($800 billion – part of it goes to nuclear subs, which we have over a dozen and China doesn’t even have 1 yet) to our fears, we clearly are still in a Cold War frame of mind. Notice the fears of nuclear attacks, nuclear run-off, poisoning, and so on. Even in Japan after their tsunami and earthquake, the bulk of news reporting was focused on nuclear contamination. In the long run, a few hundred people could die from the nuclear contamination. In the short run, tens of thousands of people died from the earthquake. Irrational?
We worry about some things more than the evidence warrants (vaccines, nuclear radiation, genetically modified food), and less about some threats than the evidence warns (climate change, obesity, using our mobiles when we drive). … [This Perception Gap] produces social policies that protect us more from what we’re afraid of than from what in fact threatens us the most (we spend more to protect ourselves from terrorism than heart disease)…which in effect raises our overall risk.
May 15, 2011
Mind you, by the Right, I mean the National Review. And why? Because of his Obama-style Massachusetts health care plan. It seems that the tides have turned against Mitt, not the other way around with Mitt turning with the tides. State/National health care plans are anathema to the right today. It is much different today than 2007; they were not in the discussion in 2007.
Mitt is still in the front of the pack for GOP candidates and may even be pushed farther ahead by the recent announcement that Mike Huckabee will not be running for Republican nomination in 2012.
May 14, 2011
“Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave impoverished Massachusetts citizens a chance to receive health care. I’m only human, and I’ve made mistakes. None bigger, of course, than helping cancer patients receive chemotherapy treatments and making sure that those suffering from pediatric AIDS could obtain medications, but that’s my cross to bear,” - Mitt Romney
“The major strike against Mitt Romney is that he not only tried to help people get medical care, he actually did help people get medical care,” conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said. “No other Republican in the field has that type of baggage. And in the end, in order to defeat President Obama, the GOP needs someone who has a track record of never wanting to help sick people.”
H/T: Andrew Sullivan
May 13, 2011
Did you know the former uses Massachusetts tax dollars for abortions?
May 13, 2011
“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. … You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be,” – Senator Rand Paul.
Some days I like Rand. Today, I feel he is off kilter.
May 13, 2011
I can’t believe this is a real commercial.
May 12, 2011
Stand up, literally, for your life.
May 11, 2011
This also includes costs of war (hat tip to Sojourners):
- Financial: The U.S. is spending more than $100 billion per year in Afghanistan
- Human: 1,570 Americans killed, more than 10,000 wounded
- More than 10,000 civilian Afghan deaths, 3,000 in 2010 alone.
Innocent civilians / bystanders are almost the invisible warriors in this war and many others of yore. They are forgotten in our news cycle and in our lamentations. This is not to downplay the deaths of our men and women in uniform, but they are not the worst hit group in times of war. Check war deaths since WW2 and the Civil War. Quantum drops in military casualties.
May 11, 2011
This is a good read (hat tip to Ezra Klein).