Friday, July 27, 2018

ACTION ALERT: National Day of Action for Medicaid's Birthday!

This coming Monday, July 30 will be a National Day of Action for Medicaid’s 53rd Birthday! Many groups are focusing activities around the time frame 12-1 pm CT.

No matter our differences, most of us want to live healthy lives. Medicaid allows seniors, parents, children and working people to visit doctors when they are sick.

If you are active on social media, here are a couple of ideas:
Hashtags and Posts
  • #HappyBirthdayMedicaid 
  • #Medicaid53 
  • #HandsOffMedicaid
  • Everyone wants treatments that are proven to help them to live healthy lives. The Affordable Care Act provided 12 million more people with Medicaid coverage, including families and children so they can access those treatments. #HappyBirthdayMedicaid #Medicaid53 #HandsOffMedicaid

In North Dakota, Medicaid Expansion through the Affordable Care Act provides 21,400 people with Medicaid coverage, including families and children.  #HappyBirthdayMedicaid #Medicaid53

And links to additional ideas and information:
Let’s all celebrate on Monday!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

From CBPP: State Earned Income Tax Credits Help Build Opportunity for People of Color and Women

The concentration of economic gains at the top of the income ladder and largely stagnant wages at the bottom harm the economic well-being of millions of workers, especially people of color and women.  For example, African American and Latino workers are far more likely than white workers to earn poverty-level wages.[1]  Women represent less than half of the total workforce but roughly 3 out of 5 workers in occupations with low pay.  And African American and Latino women comprise almost twice as big a share of the low-wage workforce as they do the workforce as a whole.[2]
State earned income tax credits (EITCs) help people of color and women struggling on low wages afford basic necessities and, studies suggest, contribute to their children’s future success. Twenty-nine states plus the District of Columbia have enacted their own version of the federal EITC to help low-wage, working households meet basic needs.  State EITCs build on the success of the federal credit by keeping people on the job and further reducing hardship for working households and children. Because people of color and women are overrepresented in low-wage work, the state credits are also an important tool for advancing racial and gender equity.

State EITCs Reduce Poverty and Help Children of Color Go Further

Reduce poverty in communities of color.  While state and federal EITCs serve a larger number of white households than any other racial or ethnic group (due in part to population size), they serve a larger proportion of people of color relative to their population size, and the EITC has an outsized impact in reducing poverty rates for households of color.  The average state EITC benefit for non-white- or Hispanic-headed households was $120 higher than for white, non-Hispanic households, a recent study found, and state EITCs lift a larger share of the non-white and Hispanic populations out of poverty. [3]  This partly reflects the targeting of the EITC to working-poor households with children and the high poverty rates for children of color. Child poverty is nearly three times higher for African American and Hispanic children than for white children.[4]
Higher Income for Poor Children Expected to Boost Work and Earnings Later in Life
Help children of color do better and go further in school.  Multiple studies find that young children in low-income households that get an income boost from the state or federal EITC tend to do better and go further in school, reducing the disadvantages associated with exposure to poverty.[5]  The EITC may play a particularly important role in helping children of color improve their math achievement, complete high school, and enroll in college, the research suggests.[6]
May boost earnings and work hours as children of color reach adulthood. Children of color are more likely than white children to grow up in households struggling on low pay, due to wage and employment discrimination and other factors.[7]  Relative to better-off peers, children growing up poor tend to work less and earn less as adults,[8] but children receiving additional income (from whatever source) have a boost that lasts into adulthood.[9]  One study found that low-income children whose households received an additional $3,000 per year before age 6 were likely to work more hours and earn 17 percent more than otherwise-similar children without that additional support.[10]  (See figure.)

State EITCs Boost Women’s Work Hours and Income, May Improve Maternal Health

Encourage women to work, particularly unmarried mothers.  State and federal EITCs are considered some of the most effective policies to encourage women to work more hours and increase their earnings, particularly for unmarried mothers earning low wages.[11]  Unmarried mothers’ work rates increased substantially following the federal EITC expansion in the 1990s relative to married mothers and single women without children.[12] (See second figure.) Additionally, studies controlling for other factors found that the federal EITC expansion increased unmarried mothers’ work rates over and above their counterparts not receiving the EITC, and far more than welfare policies or labor market factors alone.[13]
Single Mothers' Work Rates Jumped Following Earned Income Tax Credit Expansion in 1990s
Reduce poverty among senior women.  EITCs reward and encourage work, especially for unmarried mothers, and often lead to better opportunities and higher pay over time.[14] That additional working experience while young increases women’s Social Security retirement benefits and thereby reduces poverty among senior women.[15]  This is especially important because women over 65 are more likely to be poor than men, regardless of marital status, race, or educational background.[16]  State EITCs build on the federal credit’s poverty reduction record.
Improve the health of mothers and their infants. Research suggests that state and federal EITCs can help improve maternal and infant health. For example, one study found that women newly eligible for an expanded federal EITC in the 1990s experienced improvement in a number of health indicators.[17]  Research has also found that more generous state EITCs are associated with improved birth outcomes, and that states with refundable EITCs showed the greatest reductions in low-birthweight infants and largest increases in birth weights.[18]
July 24, 2018
[1] Poverty-level wages are defined here as $11.70 or less per hour. Economic Policy Institute Data Library, Poverty-Level Wages, http://www.epi.org/data/#/?subject=povwage&g=*&r=*.
[2] Low wages are defined here as $11.00 per hour. See Jasmine Tucker and Kayla Patrick, “Low-Wage Jobs Are Women’s Jobs: The Overrepresentation of Women in Low-Wage Work,” National Women’s Law Center, August 2017, https://nwlc-ciw49tixgw5lbab.stackpathdns.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Low-Wage-Jobs-are-Womens-Jobs.pdf.
[3] Douglas J. Gagnon, Marybeth J. Mattingly, and Andrew Schaefer, “State EITC Programs Provide Important Relief to Households in Need,” University of New Hampshire Carson School of Public Policy, Winter 2017, https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1295&context=carsey.
[4] Annie E. Casey Foundation, “2017 Kids Count Databook,” June 2017, http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-2017kidscountdatabook.pdf.
[5] Chuck Marr et al., “EITC and Child Tax Credit Promote Work, Reduce Poverty, and Support Children’s Development, Research Finds,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated October 1, 2015, https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/eitc-and-child-tax-credit-promote-work-reduce-poverty-and-support-childrens; Greg J. Duncan, Pamela A. Morris, and Chris Rodrigues, “Does Money Really Matter? Estimating Impacts of Family Income on Young Children’s Achievement with Data from Random-Assignment Experiments,” Developmental Psychology, June 2011, pp. 1263–1279.
[6] Michelle Maxfield, “The Effects of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Child Achievement and Long-Term Educational Attainment,” Michigan State University Job Market Paper, November 14, 2013, https://www.msu.edu/~maxfiel7/20131114%20Maxfield%20EITC%20Child%20Education.pdf; Katherine Michelmore, “The Effect of Income on Educational Attainment: Evidence from State Earned Income Tax Credit Expansions,” November 2013, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2356444; Gordon Dahl and Lance Lochner, “The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit,” American Economic Review, August 2012, pp. 1927-1956.
[7] Lincoln Quillian et al., “Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 10, 2017, http://www.pnas.org/content/114/41/10870.full; Roberta Spalter-Roth and Terri Ann Lowenthal, “Race, Ethnicity, and the American Labor Market: What’s at Work?” American Sociological Association, June 2005, http://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/images/research/docs/pdf/RaceEthnicity_LaborMarket.pdf.
[8] Greg J. Duncan et al., "Early Childhood Poverty and Adult Attainment, Behavior, and Health," Child Development, January/February 2010, pp. 306-325.
[9] Jacob Bastian and Katherine Michelmore, “The Long-Term Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit on Children’s Education and Employment Outcomes,” December 27, 2016, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2674603.
[10] Greg J. Duncan et al., "Early Childhood Poverty and Adult Attainment, Behavior, and Health,” and personal communication with the author.
[11] Chris M. Herbst, “The labor supply effects of child care costs and wages in the presence of subsidies and the earned income tax credit,” Review of Economics of the Household, November 17, 2009, http://www.chrisherbst.net/files/Download/C._Herbst_Labor_Supply_Effects.pdf.
[12] Austin Nichols and Jesse Rothstein, “The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),” NBER Working Paper No. 21211, May 2015, http://www.nber.org/papers/w21211.pdf.
[13] Jeffrey Grogger, “The Effects of Time Limits, the EITC, and Other Policy Changes on Welfare Use, Work, and Income among Female-Head Households,” Review of Economics and Statistics, May 2003.
[14] Erica Williams and Samantha Waxman, “States Can Adopt or Expand Earned Income Tax Credits to Build a Stronger Future Economy,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, updated February 7, 2018, https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/states-can-adopt-or-expand-earned-income-tax-credits-to-build-a.
[15]  Molly Dahl et al., “The Earned Income Tax Credit and Expected Social Security Retirement Benefits Among Low-Income Women,” Congressional Budget Office, March 5, 2012, https://www.cbo.gov/publication/43033.
[16] Monique Morrissey, “Women over 65 are more likely to be poor than men, regardless of race, educational background, and marital status,” Economic Policy Institute, March 8, 2016, https://www.epi.org/publication/women-over-65-are-more-likely-to-in-poverty-than-men/.
[17] William N. Evans and Craig L. Garthwaite, “Giving Mom a Break: The Impact of Higher EITC Payments on Maternal Health,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (6)2, 2014, pp. 258-290.  Health indicators include self-reported “excellent” and “very good” health days per month, number of bad mental health days in the past month, and biomarkers of elevated stress levels from physical, blood, and urine tests.
[18] Sara Markowitz, Kelli A. Komro, Melvin D. Livingston, Otto Lenhart, and Alexander C. Wagenaar, “Effects of state-level Earned Income Tax Credit laws in the U.S. on maternal health behaviors and infant health outcomes,” Social Science & Medicine 194, October 16, 2017, p. 72.

Letter to the Editor: Wahpeton Daily News: Farm Bill impacts everyone in North Dakota, including our children.

Farm Bill impacts everyone in North Dakota, including our children
Lisa K. Dullum, West Fargo
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps, is the front line defense against hunger and food insecurity and is part of the Farm Bill. At this time, the Senate and the House of Representatives each have passed a different version of the Farm Bill. The U.S. House of Representatives’ version includes changes to SNAP that could result in more than 1.2 million people, including children, losing access to critical food assistance each month. Worse yet, it takes money away from food and families to create a new bureaucracy and increase paperwork requirements. And it would place unfunded mandates on state government agencies at a time when states like North Dakota can least afford it.
Nearly half of North Dakota’s 53,269 SNAP recipients are children. SNAP kept 6,000 North Dakota children out of poverty in each year between 2009 and 2012. By providing much needed economic support, SNAP allows families to have sufficient nutrition during times of unemployment, fluctuating incomes, and low-wage work.
Under the language in the House Farm Bill, children in households losing SNAP eligibility might also lose access to free lunch and breakfast at school. Taken together, it will mean more children going without meals at home and at school. As an educator, I know that coming to school hungry is one of the most serious roadblocks to successful learning. And children whose families don’t have basic food security are much more likely to face other problems at school and are less likely to grow up to become healthy contributing members to society.

I urge Congressman Kevin Cramer to support a Farm Bill in conference committee that looks more like the Senate’s bipartisan version that supports and strengthens SNAP. Our children and our future are counting on you.

From EPI: Census Citizenship Question

The Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants have far reaching implications.

This past March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross―with the support of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions―announced that he was instructing the Census Bureau to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

The constitution mandates that our government undertake a count of every person in the United States every ten years. The census impacts more than just congressional district lines. It impacts the allocation of more than $700 billion in federal government resources to states and localities. It is a pillar of our democracy and if we get it wrong it distorts political power and the funding of our communities for the next decade.

Past Census Bureau directors and a bipartisan pair of past Commerce secretaries warn that adding a citizenship question to the census will under-count already hard-to-reach populations―in low-income urban and rural areas alike. And the Census Bureau itself has told Secretary Ross that the question “harms the quality of the census count.”

Right now, the Census Bureau is holding a public comment period―asking for our feedback on the Trump administration’s citizenship question. This is our chance to make our voices heard. 

Click here to submit an official public comment opposing the citizenship question in the 2020 census and help ensure the accuracy of this critical once-in-a-decade census.

(Comments submitted will become a matter of public record.)

The administration’s attacks on immigrant populations―separating families at the border, increased ICE deportations, and targeting of immigrant Muslim populations―are already having a chilling effect on communities throughout the country. Adding this UNTESTED census question will have the likely effect of depressing response rates and distorting the accuracy of information.It will only add to the stresses and inequity recent immigrants are facing while taking resources away from already underserved communities.

Stand with EPI and our partners in opposing the Trump administration’s citizenship question in the 2020 census. Click here to submit your official comment.

At a time when Congress is cutting funding for critical programs―education, Medicaid, food stamps and more―it is crucial that we conduct an accurate census that properly allocates those limited resources.

Thank you,

Thea Lee
President, Economic Policy Institute

Monday, July 23, 2018

From EPI: The New Gilded Age - Income Inequality by State

Income inequality is on the rise.

Even as incomes of the bottom 99 percent improve with a strengthening economy, the gap between the top 1 percent and everyone else continues to grow.

EPI is out with a new report, “The new gilded age,” which shows that income inequality is not just a problem in big cities and coastal states. The report breaks down what it takes to be in the top 1 percent in every state, county and metropolitan area—and shows that income inequality is a problem throughout the country. 

Click here to share this map on Facebook, which shows the level of inequality in each state.
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From 2009–2015, the incomes of the top 1 percent grew faster than the incomes of the bottom 99 percent in 43 states and the District of Columbia. And in nine states the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth.

Nationally, in 2015, families in the top 1 percent made 26 times as much as the bottom 99 percent. 

Click here to view the state-by-state interactive feature and see how the average income of the bottom 99 percent in your state compares with the average top 1 percent income. These data are also broken down by county and metropolitan area.

Since the 1970s, income inequality has risen in every state. But this trend can be reversed if we begin making different policy choices, such as raising the minimum wage, strengthening collective bargaining, and providing paid sick leave.

Together we can rebuild the middle class and create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.

Thank you,

Dan Crawford
Media Relations Director, Economic Policy Institute