Category Archives: Economic Policy

Saving Money — But at Whose Expense?

But they do save money!

GoLocalWorcester | Business | Smart Benefits: Switching to HSAs May Reduce Healthcare Spending.

Your doctor copays are too high! – Salon.com

Adam Gaffney serves us a dose of high-deductible health plan education straight-up.

Your doctor copays are too high! – Salon.com.

This is What Education Funding Looks Like

Good news for the middle schools of the United States, as Sen. Whitehouse champions new legislation to fund struggling middle schools.  

 

Whitehouse Announces Legislation to Improve Middle School Achievement

 

Providence, RI – Today, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed announced the introduction of the Success in the Middle Act, legislation to improve our nation’s middle schools. At the press conference, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Providence School Superintendent Susan Lusi, and Gilbert Stuart Middle School Principal Edward Halpin shared their support for the legislation and discussed its benefits for Rhode Island children.

 

“When children reach high school unprepared, it is often too late for them to catch up,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and lead sponsor of the Success in the Middle Act. “This legislation will help struggling middle schools prepare students for the academic rigors of high school, and put children on the path to college or a career early on.” 

 

“I applaud Senator Whitehouse for leading this effort to target reforms to the middle grades, a critical time when too many kids can fall off track and fall behind. This legislation will provide additional resources to improve our middle schools and help kids reach their full potential and successfully transition to high school, college, and the workforce,” said Reed.

 

“The middle school years can be a difficult, transitional time for children. In Providence, we have put a lot of effort into providing support and services both in and out of school for our middle school students. Senator Whitehouse’s ‘Success in the Middle’ legislation would significantly enhance the ability of communities across our nation to ensure that all students complete the middle grades prepared for success in high school and in the rest of their lives,” said Mayor Angel Taveras.

 

“We are grateful to our Senators from Rhode Island for their ongoing commitment to education, and especially to that of our most at-risk students,” said Providence Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Lusi. “This bill would bolster our efforts to ensure that the critical middle school years are full of strong academics, positive school cultures and supportive structures to ensure student success.”

 

The Success in the Middle Act would help disadvantaged middle-grade students reach their full potential by providing federal grants to underachieving school systems. Senators Whitehouse and Reed announced the reintroduction of the legislation at Gilbert Stuart Middle School in Providence, a school that could benefit from passage of the Success in the Middle Act.

 

An earlier version of the Success in the Middle Act was originally introduced in the Senate by Barack Obama before he was elected President, and was then championed by Senator Reed. Senator Whitehouse will introduce a new version of the bill next week when the Senate goes back into session.

The downside of high deductible health plans | The Incidental Economist

This study has a good graph showing how people in high deductible health plans forego or delay care. It also notes that the incidence of foregoing and delaying care goes up as the poverty of the individual increases. Conclusion: HDHP’s are making access to care even more challenging for the poor. I would like to see how the Affordable Health Care act plans to remedy this.

The downside of high deductible health plans | The Incidental Economist.

Take Action to Help Mental Health Providers Get Treated Justly

We in the social work field are known for advocating for just about everyone — the poor, the homeless, LBGT, Veterans, the elderly, people with physical disabilities, people with mental disabilities, the unemployed, the incarcerated, and so on. But when it comes to advocating for ourselves, we seem to have a harder time, and the many groups who we speak for are often not able to provide the same kind of “got your back” advocacy in return. For that reason, mental health providers are a category, politically, that is easily stomped on. Though we represent many, we represent the underrepresented, the less powerful, and the very busy people who must work two jobs for a living.

Here is a chance to help out your fellow mental health provider. Please consider signing the petition linked below to help advocate for mental health providers to be adequately compensated for their work.

Reimburse Clinicians Fare Wages Petition

Income Inequality May Take Toll on Growth – NYTimes.com

Stare this ugly fact right in the face — we are killing our country with income inequality.  It’s a significant factor in the stunting of American economic growth.  If Mitt Romney gets elected, income inequality will get even worse, and our economy will become even more stratified and vulnerable.

Income Inequality May Take Toll on Growth – NYTimes.com.

Kiersten Marek:

The elephant in the room in American politics: poverty.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Poverty.

Lots of talk about the middle class. Tax cuts for the middle class. Saving the middle class. Doing more for the middle class.

Not one word about poverty.

No mention that nearly 25% of the children in the world’s richest nation live in poverty.

Not one word.

View original

Not Happy? Maybe It’s Your Culture

Another fascinating documentary, “Happy,” entered my consciousness yesterday. It talks about what makes for happiness. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “flow” — if not, the movie is an excellent primer. But beyond flow, the film also provides research about how little social status and money (above a certain basic minimum for health and safety) really have to do with happiness. Parts that were particularly intriguing were the descriptions of Co-housing in Denmark, and how people there report record high levels of happiness and contentment. Co-housing exists in America, but not at all to the degree it does in Denmark. It might be an interesting model for Americans to allow into their field of vision, now that we have suffered a massive economic downturn and many people have lost their homes to foreclosure. Maybe we could even try a co-housing development with the bond money that will be on the Rhode Island ballot this November.

Why Not a New WPA?

Sidewalk Lippitt Park

That’s a seventy-year-old sidewalk laid down by WPA workers in the Great Depression. Still sound, like a lot of the infrastructure work done then.

The New York Times business section puts in simple terms why stimulus money used wisely on needed repairs is smart policy…

Millions of Americans remain out of work only because employers can already produce more than enough to meet depressed demand. The obvious remedy is to increase total spending. Although economic stimulus has become a controversial topic in the abstract, a few simple observations should persuade every sensible legislator — perhaps even a majority! — to support a specific type of higher spending: accelerated refurbishment of our crumbling infrastructure.

Some in Congress have consistently opposed the president’s infrastructure proposals, citing the huge national debt. But that’s an incoherent objection. If repairs to the Capitol dome or a tattered stretch of interstate highway are postponed, they will just become more costly. Many job seekers have the skills for this work. If we wait, we’ll have to bid them away from other tasks. The required materials are cheaper now than they will ever be. And interest rates are at record lows.
Of course, the debt is an important long-run problem, but deferring infrastructure repairs will only worsen it. Relative to current policy, then, such projects would address multiple pressing problems without distress.

Pumping up consumption while neglecting essentials just means that the car we bought on credit gets dinged in the pothole we didn’t fix.

It’s true, Americans want jobs, but when we get past the desperate stage we want work that matters. The WPA created both jobs and useful work. Why not build on what we learned then at such cost?

Support National Children’s Mental Health Funding

An email from the Children’s Mental Health Network about an upcoming Action:

ACTION ALERT

The federal government supports many programs that benefit all Americans, including mental health and social services; public health; housing; public safety and law enforcement; medical and scientific research; and education and job training. In Washington, these programs are collectively referred to as “nondefense discretionary” or simply “NDD” programs. On January 2, 2013 these programs will face devastating, across-the-board cuts of 8.2 percent through an arcane budget tool known as “sequestration” unless Congress works together to prevent these cuts through a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction.

On September 20th please join us in a National NDD Community Call-in and Tweet Day and ask your member of Congress to support a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not include further cuts to NDD programs, including children’s mental health.

NDD programs represent a relatively small and shrinking share of the federal budget and our overall economy—already reduced to levels not seen since President Eisenhower held office. They are not the drivers of the debt. In fact, even completely eliminating all NDD programs would still not balance the budget. Yet to date NDD programs have borne the brunt of deficit reduction efforts. If sequestration is allowed to take effect, core services upon which Americans have come to rely will be greatly curtailed or even eliminated.

Email, Call, Tweet, or Facebook your Members of Congress on September 20th to let them know that NDD programs, including children’s mental health and research, have already done their part to help reduce the deficit – it’s now time for a balanced approach! We have made links on the Network website to send an email, sample Facebook posts, Tweets, and information about how to call your Members of Congress and are also included below to help you advocate to protect public health and research from further cuts! These materials are also available on the Coalition for Health Funding’s website.

Email Your Congressman

Take approximately five minutes and send an email to your Members of Congress: http://www.cmhnetwork.org/share-your-voice. You’ll simply click the “Take Action” button, scroll to the bottom of the page, enter your name, address, and contact information. Click the blue Send Message button and you’re done!

Call Your Congressman

For those not familiar with calling the offices of your Members of Congress, you can call the Capitol Switchboard and asked to be connected to your Members’ offices. The phone number is (202) 224-3121. You can also go to http://www.Congress.org to find the office’s direct line and to look up your Members of Congress.

Suggested Facebook Posts

This January, essential jobs and services will face more deep cuts through sequestration. There is bipartisan agreement that these cuts would be devastating to the nation. Only through a balanced approach can we avoid sequestration, balance the budget and restore the nation’s economic stability. Take action!

Suggested Tweets

How to Tweet Your Members of Congress:
Use the Children’s Mental Health Network Tweet Your Legislator tool to get in touch with your member of Congress via Twitter. For those relatively new to Twitter, this is a great Twitter 101 Guide from the folks at Half in Ten/Center for American Progress.

Template
Invest in public health, mental health, medical research, & infrastructure [insert Member Twitter handle]. Support balance to stop #sequestration! #NDDUnited.

Sample
Invest in public health, mental health, medical research, & infrastructure @MaxBaucus. Support balance to stop #sequestration! #NDDUnited

———————————-

Template (links to NDD national sign-on letter)
Remember [insert Member Twitter handle] over 3000 groups want you to support a balanced approach to stop #sequestration! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited

Sample
Remember @MaxBaucus, over 3000 groups want you to support a balanced approach to stop #sequestration!http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited

———————————-

Template
#Sequestration means an 8.2% cut to #mentalhealth funding in 2013. [insert Member Twitter handle] support a balanced approach! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited

Sample
#Sequestration means an 8% cut to #mentalhealth funding in 2013. @MaxBaucus support a balanced approach! http://bit.ly/N2jgsB #NDDUnited

———————————-

Template (links to The Hill editorial by American Federation of School Administrators)
#Sequestration devastates medical research, education, & infrastructure. [insert Member Twitter handle] find a balanced solution! http://bit.ly/OPmbSl #NDDUnited

Sample
#Sequestration devastates medical research, education, & infrastructure. @MaxBaucus find a balanced solution! http://bit.ly/OPmbSl #NDDUnited

———————————-

Let us know what you need from the Network! We love feedback so let us know how we can improve the website to better meet your needs. Contact us here. As always, thank you for your continued support of the Children’s Mental Health Network, and remember to take action on September 20th!

Scott Bryant-Comstock
President & CEO

http://cmhnetwork.org

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