Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday, September 4, 2014

State EITC and higher minimum wage work best together; What makes people poor; Hospitals thrive due to Medicaid expansion; and Louisiana cities supporting homeless veterans

State EITC and higher minimum wage work best together
States should both raise their minimum wage and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit as a way of putting working families on the path to economic security and opportunity. That’s according to a new paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which notes that while each policy has its own merits, they work best together.

A higher state EITC and a higher state minimum wage individually offer significant support to many low-income workers. The benefits of raising the incomes of low-income working families are lasting, including improving the prospects for children later in their lives. States are right to consider strengthening these policies, both of which reduce poverty and help make work pay. But a strong state EITC and an increased minimum wage are even more powerful, and support a greater number of people, when combined.”

While there is no better anti-poverty program than a good job with a decent wage, Louisiana is one of only five states without a minimum wage. And the state’s EITC is less than one-fourth of the average state EITC — 3.5 percent of the federal credit versus 16 percent. The result is hundreds of thousands of people working hard every day yet still struggling to stay out of poverty.


What makes people poor?
Thomas Edsall of the New York Times takes a nuanced look at the national debate about poverty and finds that, despite deep political polarization, arguments from the left and right have a surprising amount in common.

“Despite the conflicting nature of these left and right analyses, there is a strong case to be made that they are, in fact, complementary and that they reinforce each other. What if we put it together this way? Automation, foreign competition and outsourcing lead to a decline in well-paying manufacturing jobs, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of unemployment and diminished upward mobility, which then leads to fewer marriages, a rise in the proportion of nonmarital births, increased withdrawal from the labor force, impermanent cohabitation and a consequent increase in dependence on government support.”


Hospitals thrive due to Medicaid expansion
The National Journal reports that hospitals are thriving in the 27 states that have accepted Medicaid expansion, with three of the largest hospitals in the country seeing a 50 percent increase in the number of insured patients treated and a 32 percent increase in patients covered by Medicaid.

In the 27 states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion, hospitals’ profits are climbing while more patients are getting access to care. Some large hospital chains say the Medicaid expansion alone has already added tens of millions of dollars to their bottom lines, and they’re expecting to make even more money as enrollment continues. But in states that haven’t signed on to the expansion, hospitals are in a bind—they’re getting the bad parts of Obamacare without the good. All hospitals agreed to take payment cuts as part of the law, on the theory that an influx of new patients would make up for those losses. In states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, that influx isn’t happening.”

Meanwhile, some hospitals in Louisiana are struggling to stay open because of policy decisions made by Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature. One such crisis was the near closure of Baton Rouge General’s emergency room last week, which sprung from the decision to close Earl K. Long Medical Center and the Legislature’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars.


Louisiana cities supporting homeless veterans
The Advocate reports that Baton Rouge has joined three other Louisiana cities participating in federal government’s Mayors Campaign to End Veteran Homelessness.

The campaign is the latest federal push to address the homeless problem, following the Opening Doors program implemented in 2010, according to a release by Holden’s office. Since that program began, the homeless veterans population across the nation dropped by 24 percent.

Housing officials are seeking federal and grant funding for housing units to house homeless veterans as well as to house the elderly and disabled.


Number of the Day:
50 percent — The average increase in insured patients visiting hospitals in the 27 states that accepted federal Medicaid expansion (Source: National Journal)