A step toward equal pay in New Orleans

A step toward equal pay in New Orleans

The Louisiana Legislature has repeatedly shot down laws aiming to shrink the state’s worst-in-the-nation gender pay gap. Women in Louisiana earn only 70 cents for every dollar earned by men, with women of color and working mothers penalized most in the marketplace for their gender. But while state government refuses to act, the New Orleans City Council took a step Thursday to give some city workers a better shot at equal pay. Nola.com | The Advocate’s Jessica Williams explains the measure:

The rules forbid managers from asking an applicant or their previous employer either direct or indirect questions about that applicant’s salary history. The managers are also forbidden from searching public records to get the same information, the rules state. (…) The move is generally aimed at putting men and women on a more equal playing field at City Hall and at setting an example for the private sector, council members said. Local and state governments have no power over private employers on the issue.


USDA proposal would take lunch from hungry children
The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule change in July that would result in 3.1 million people losing their food assistance. The agency initially estimated that nearly half a million students would no longer directly qualify for free school meals. It turns out they were off by 100%: The agency now estimates that nearly 1 million children would lose SNAP—and direct certification for school meals—if the rules go into effect. Lola Fadulu at the New York Times has more.

“The additional analysis is woefully inadequate at addressing the concerns raised by tens of thousands of commenters and does nothing to mitigate the harm to low-income children from the underlying proposal,” said Zoe Neuberger, a senior policy analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Trump administration has tried three times now to reduce funding for or limit access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or the food assistance program. But this is the first time the administration has accommodated opponents to a rule amid criticism.

Because of the agency’s egregious estimation error, we have a new opportunity to oppose this change. You can comment on the proposed rule here.


Courts are shaking down the sick and poor
Across America, small courts increasingly serve as shakedown artists for hospitals and their debt collectors, using the threat of imprisonment to force poor and often ailing people to pay down medical debt. As ProPublica’s Lizzie Presser reports, in some jurisdictions the judge doesn’t need a law degree, and medical debt collectors get to decide who gets sent to jail.

The sickest patients are often the most indebted, and they’re not exempt from arrest. In Indiana, a cancer patient was hauled away from home in her pajamas in front of her three children; too weak to climb the stairs to the women’s area of the jail, she spent the night in a men’s mental health unit where an inmate smeared feces on the wall. In Utah, a man who had ignored orders to appear over an unpaid ambulance bill told friends he would rather die than go to jail; the day he was arrested, he snuck poison into the cell and ended his life.


Pricing out changes to national health coverage
Even with the reforms of the Affordable Care Act, 8.5% of working-age Americans remain uninsured, with part-time workers and people without a high-school diploma the most likely to lack coverage. And the cost of coverage has been rising for employers and employees: premiums rose 5% between 2017 and 2018. As presidential candidates debate changes to the nation’s health policy, the Urban Institute has released a comprehensive evaluation of eight different national coverage models. In a blog post explaining the report, Urban’s Linda J. Blumberg, John Holahan and Michael Simpson remind us that even if the government spends more on health coverage, the nation may end up spending less.

It is possible, for example, for federal spending to increase while national health spending decreases, if new federal programs take over some of the expenses currently paid for by employers and households and do it at a lower cost. But if a federal program takes over some of the private spending and ends up providing more generous benefits, total national spending could still increase. (…) In our most recent report, we estimate that a broad single-payer reform (…) would increase federal government spending by $34 trillion over the 2020–29 period, $34 trillion beyond what the federal government already spends on health care. However, this reform would shift almost all of the spending currently done by households, employers, and state governments over to the federal government. All people, regardless of whether they have insurance coverage today, would be covered by the new federal program.


Number of the Day
150,000 – American homes not built each year due to increasing concentration in the homebuilding market. Economists estimate that between 2013 and 2017, American home prices rose twice as fast as they would have without consolidation in the market for builders. (Source: The Washington Post