Indiana’s New Medicaid Waiver Requires Close Watch

February 3, 2015 at 3:37 pm

With Indiana becoming the 29th state to adopt health reform’s Medicaid expansion, we’re happy to see another state expand Medicaid (see map below) — but it remains to be seen whether Indiana will meet its coverage goals and whether enrollees will get the care they need.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week approved the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) 2.0 Medicaid waiver, which the state expects will cover about 350,000 uninsured Hoosiers.  Last October, we wrote about several features of Indiana’s waiver proposal that could create barriers to coverage and care. … Read more

Restoring Medicaid Payment Bump Would Improve Access to Care

February 3, 2015 at 2:21 pm

The President’s 2016 budget would reinstate health reform’s temporary boost in Medicaid payments for primary care services and extend it to more providers.  It’s a sound proposal, as new evidence shows the rate increase accomplished its goal of improving access to health care by encouraging providers to accept new Medicaid patients.

Medicaid enrollment has risen significantly since health reform’s coverage expansions took effect in January 2014.  Enrollment now tops 69 million — an increase of more than 10 million since October 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. … Read more

Obama Budget Would Restore Much-Needed IRS Funding

February 3, 2015 at 1:22 pm

The President’s fiscal year 2016 budget would reverse a large share of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding cuts of recent years, which have shrunk overall IRS funding as well as funding to enforce the nation’s tax laws by nearly one-fifth.  While the boost would still leave IRS funding 5 percent below 2010 levels, after adjusting for inflation, it would restore cuts to taxpayer services and bolster efforts to go after tax cheats.

The IRS performs a vital function — collecting the revenue that pays soldiers’ salaries, provides medical care for the elderly, and meets the many other financial commitments Congress has made. … Read more

Obama Budget Restores Lost Housing Vouchers

February 2, 2015 at 4:25 pm

The President’s budget includes a much-needed funding boost for Housing Choice Vouchers, a program that has faced deep cuts in recent years, to help more low-income families afford housing.  Restoring the cuts is particularly important given that the number of renter households paying unaffordable housing costs is at historic highs, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The added funding would restore 67,000 vouchers cut due to sequestration since March 2013.  Combined with the budget’s voucher renewal funds for 2016 and the vouchers that state and local housing agencies will be able to restore this year, we estimate that the requested funds would fully restore the 100,000 vouchers lost due to sequestration.… Read more

Greenstein on the Obama Budget

February 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

CBPP President Robert Greenstein just issued a statement on the President’s fiscal year 2016 budget.  Here’s the opening:

 President Obama is proposing a surprisingly ambitious budget that would make progress — in some cases modest, in others large — in various areas in which policy sclerosis has prevented the nation from addressing significant problems.  It would expand opportunity, especially for children; reform various programs and tax incentives to make them more effective; and help large numbers of middle- and low-income families while scaling back inefficient tax shelters that mainly benefit those at the top.

Read more

Previewing the Obama Budget’s Tax Proposals

February 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

Below are some key facts and resources about some tax proposals we expect the President’s budget to include.  Stay tuned for more analysis once the budget is released this morning.

Reforming Capital Gains Taxes

The tax code strongly favors income from capital gains — increases in the value of assets, such as stocks — over income from wages and salaries.  These preferences are both economically inefficient and highly regressive.  The President’s budget will include recently released proposals to address these problems by: 1) applying the capital gains tax to large, “unrealized” capital gains that wealthy individuals leave behind when they die; and 2) narrowing the differential between the top capital gains rate and the top tax rates on earned income by returning the capital gains rate to its level under President Reagan.… Read more

Obama’s Transition Tax on Offshore Profits Is Sound, But a Higher Rate Would Bring More Revenue Without Adverse Economic Effects

February 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm

President Obama’s budget will propose a 14 percent tax on multinational corporations’ existing offshore profits and invest the $238 billion in revenues in infrastructure, Bloomberg reports.   That’s a sound way to address corporations’ huge stock of foreign profits, much of it in low-tax jurisdictions like Bermuda and Luxembourg, in transitioning to a reformed international tax system. But setting the rate above 14 percent would produce more revenue without affecting firms’ decisions about where and how to invest.

Multinationals don’t face the 35 percent U.S.… Read more

New Obama Tax Proposals Are More Progressive Than They May Appear

January 30, 2015 at 7:20 pm

The President’s new tax proposals would raise revenues from high-income and wealthy filers and devote much of the savings to other tax proposals that would benefit low- and moderate-income filers. Estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) show that the President’s proposals are quite progressive, but some readers are interpreting those estimates as meaning that low- and middle-income families get only modest benefits. There are two main reasons why that’s not the case:

1. For technical reasons, the TPC estimates classify as “middle-income” some affluent filers who would pay significantly higher taxes under the plan.Read more

Obama Spending Proposal Makes Sense for Short and Long Run

January 30, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Update, February 2, 2015: We’ve updated this post to reflect the President’s sequestration replacement proposal that the Administration made public today with the release of his fiscal year 2016 budget.

The President’s proposal, in his upcoming fiscal year 2016 budget, to provide partial relief from the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) “sequestration” cuts for 2016 and fully offset it with alternate deficit reduction is consistent with both the BCA and long-term fiscal responsibility. The proposal, which would still leave non-defense appropriations 11 percent below their 2010 level adjusted for inflation (see graph), would allow modest near-term funding improvements in areas such as science, education, and infrastructure.… Read more

In Case You Missed It…

January 30, 2015 at 4:17 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, health reform, and the safety net.

  • On the federal budget and taxes, in part five of our series on working-family tax credits, Chuck Marr pointed to our state-by-state fact sheets on how the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit reduce poverty, who benefits, and what states are doing to strengthen the credits.  He also explained that a proposed “repatriation tax holiday” costs money so couldn’t pay for highway construction (or anything else).  
Read more

The Unconvincing Claim That Unemployment Benefits Hurt Jobs

January 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Many conservatives, including the Wall Street Journal editorial page and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, are touting new research claiming that the expiration of emergency federal unemployment insurance (UI) benefits at the end of 2013 led employers to create 1.8 million additional jobs in 2014.  The same researchers previously claimed that the existence of emergency federal jobless benefits explained most of the persistence of high unemployment in the recovery from the Great Recession.

These findings merit considerable skepticism.… Read more

Helping Eligible Workers Claim the EITC

January 30, 2015 at 11:18 am

Some 21 percent of workers who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) don’t claim it, the IRS estimates, and the IRS and its partners have designated today as the 9th annual EITC Awareness Day to spread the word about the EITC through public events and engaging the media.

As our Working-Family Tax Credit Essentials series explains, the EITC and Child Tax Credit reward work and reduce poverty. Research also shows that they help people in working families at every stage of life, from infancy through retirement.… Read more