Actuaries Warn: Delaying Health Reform’s Individual Mandate Would Raise Premiums and Add to Ranks of Uninsured

November 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

We’ve warned of the dangers of a one-year delay in health reform’s individual mandate — on which the House may vote yet again this month — and the American Academy of Actuaries now concurs.

Health reform’s individual mandate will require most Americans to obtain health coverage or pay a penalty starting in 2014, and some House Republicans continue to push for a one-year delay.  As we’ve written, delaying the mandate would cause 11 million more Americans to remain uninsured in 2014 and result in higher premiums in the individual market for others. … Read more

Long Wait for Housing Assistance Getting Longer Under Sequestration

November 7, 2013 at 9:59 am

Sequestration could cut housing vouchers for as many as 185,000 low-income families by the end of 2014, according to our new report, which includes state-by-state estimates of the potential impact.  This is one of many reasons why budget negotiators should cancel or at least modify the sequestration cuts in non-defense discretionary programs for 2014.

More than 2.1 million low-income households use vouchers to rent modest private-market housing at an affordable cost.  But only 1 in 4 households eligible for any type of federal rental assistance receives it because of limited funding. … Read more

Douglas Rice

Poverty Rate Would Have Been Nearly Twice as High in 2012 Without Safety Net, New Census Data Show

November 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Safety net programs cut poverty nearly in half in 2012, according to our analysis of Census data released today. The data illustrate the effectiveness of a broad range of government assistance programs, such as Social Security, rent subsidies, and tax credits for working families.

Earlier today, we highlighted the effects of two poverty-reducing programs, unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).  In this post, we broaden our focus a bit.

Counting all government assistance programs, the poverty rate drops from 29.1 percent to 16.0 percent, according to a CBPP analysis using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for taxes and non-cash government benefits.  … Read more

SNAP and Unemployment Insurance Kept Millions Out of Poverty Last Year, Census Supplemental Poverty Measure Shows

November 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) — two programs facing deep cuts — lifted millions of people above the poverty line in 2012, according to a CBPP analysis of Census Bureau data released today (see chart).

Our analysis using the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which accounts for taxes and non-cash government benefits, shows that all public programs lifted 41 million people out of poverty in 2012, including almost 9 million children.  … Read more

Medicaid Enrollment Is Up — as Expected

November 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Media reports have expressed surprise, even concern, that early enrollment in Medicaid under health reform has outpaced enrollment in the new health insurance marketplaces so far.  But, that was expected to happen, even before the well-documented technical problems affecting HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace website.

The fact is, the quicker rate of Medicaid enrollments isn’t burdening states with unexpected costs — and it’s great news for the low-income individuals and families gaining coverage through the program, as research shows that Medicaid improves health and provides critical financial protection against catastrophic out-of-pocket medical costs.… Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Budget Talks, in 11 Charts

November 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm

A House-Senate budget conference committee convened last week, and our new chartbook provides the context — what’s happened to deficits since the recession, why the weak economy should be part of the budget talks, what’s at stake for vulnerable Americans, how tax breaks can help reduce deficits, and how policymakers should evaluate deficit-reduction proposals.  Part I below shows that deficits have dropped considerably since the recession began:

Deficits grew significantly as a share of the economy (gross domestic product, or GDP) during the Great Recession for three reasons. … Read more

IBP’s Warren Krafchik Headlines Global Conference on Budget Transparency

November 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm

“Whether you are a farmer in Mexico, a student in Nigeria or an IMF [International Monetary Fund] official, openness about government expenditure matters,” notes The Economist on last week’s London meeting of more than 1,000 delegates from more than 60 countries on ways to make governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.

Promoting budget transparency is a key priority for the International Budget Partnership (IBP), an organization formed within the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that works with civil society to improve governance and budget systems and reduce poverty worldwide. … Read more

CBPP

Local and Federal Government Funds Don’t Compensate for State Cuts to K-12 Education

November 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm

As our recent paper found, 34 states are providing less funding — often much less — to K-12 schools than they did before the recession (see chart).  Some have argued that federal and local governments stepped up to offset the state-level cuts.  But, that’s not the case.

The most recent comprehensive data for total education funding through 2011, from the Census Bureau, show that total per-student school funding (federal, state, and local) declined between 2008 and 2011 in most of the states that we reported had cut general state aid.… Read more

In Case You Missed It…

November 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm

This week on Off the Charts, we focused on the federal budget and taxes, Social Security, health reform, state budgets and taxes, the economy, and SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps).

  • On the federal budget and taxes, Richard Kogan illustrated that if sequestration remains in place, policymakers will have cut deficits by nearly $4 trillion, largely through spending cuts.  Chye-Ching Huang warned against so-called “revenue-neutral” tax reform that uses timing gimmicks to generate illusory savings.  Chuck Marr explained that a repatriation tax holiday can’t “pay for” cancelling sequestration — or anything else — because it would actually cost billions of dollars a year. 
Read more

Stacy Dean on SNAP Benefit Cuts

November 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Stacy Dean, CBPP’s Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, issued the following statement today on the cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) that are beginning to take effect:

Nearly 48 million Americans, including 22 million children, will begin to see their food assistance benefits cut today as a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) ends.  This benefit cut will significantly affect low-income families who continue struggling to recover from the Great Recession, and policymakers should keep that in mind as they consider further cuts to SNAP.

Read more

If Sequestration Remains, Policymakers Will Have Cut Deficits by Nearly $4 Trillion, Largely Through Spending Cuts

October 31, 2013 at 12:33 pm

As a House-Senate conference committee on the budget resolution begins work, it’s worth taking stock of the deficit reduction of recent years.

Policymakers have enacted several deficit-reduction measures since 2010, including cuts to appropriations in 2011, the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), and the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) in early 2013.  Taken together, these measures will shrink deficits by nearly $4 trillion over the 2014-2023 period, if the sequestration cuts remain in place or policymakers replace them with comparable deficit-reduction measures over the decade (see table).… Read more

Watch Out for Individual Tax Reform Timing Gimmicks

October 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp has said he will unveil tax reform legislation by the end of this year that he aims to be “revenue-neutral.”  But, a revenue-neutral package would be inadequate because tax reform should generate revenue to help cut long-term deficits.  Further, appearances of “revenue neutrality” can be deceptive, if policymakers use timing gimmicks to generate illusory savings.

Such gimmicks would appear to pay for permanent rate reductions and other tax cuts during the first decade but would lead to higher deficits later. … Read more