Poverty and Poor Health

Researchers link deaths to social ills, By Nicholas Bakalar, July 4, 2011, New York Times: “Poverty is often cited as contributing to poor health. Now, in an unusual approach, researchers have calculated how many people poverty kills and presented their findings, along with an argument that social factors can cause death the same way that behavior like smoking cigarettes does. In an article published online for the June 16 issue of The American Journal of Public Health, scientists calculated the number of deaths attributable to each of six social factors, including low income…”

Federal Spending on Medicaid

Administration offers health care cuts as part of budget negotiations, By Robert Pear, July 4, 2011, New York Times: “Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues. Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program…”

Unemployment Insurance Waste and Fraud

  • Regulators combat unemployment insurance waste and fraud, By Paul Davidson, July 4, 2011, USA Today: “State and federal regulators are cracking down on waste and fraud in the unemployment insurance system, abuses that have hit record levels as jobless claims surge in a weak economy. In the 12 months through March, the overpayment rate was 11.6% – more than $1 for every $9 paid out, Labor Department figures show. That’s up from the 12 months ending in June 2010, when a record $16.5 billion, or 10.6% of the $156 billion in jobless benefits disbursed to Americans, should not have been paid, according to the department. The overpayment rate was 9.6% in fiscal 2009 and 9.2% in 2008. Officials partly blame soaring unemployment, which forced state officials to use fraud-prevention workers to help handle an unprecedented wave of claims. ‘They were using every person they could find,’ says Gay Gilbert, Labor’s unemployment insurance administrator…”
  • R.I. joins push to halt unemployment benefits fraud, Laura Crimaldi (AP), July 4, 2011, Boston Globe: “A nationwide crackdown is coming for people fraudulently drawing unemployment payments – those who were never eligible and workers who keep getting checks after they return to work – a $17 billion benefits swindle last year alone, say federal officials. With the poor economy lingering and the jobless rate remaining high, Rhode Island and other states are stepping up efforts to stop the fraud and improper payments. As much as 30 percent of the wrong payments in 2010 went to people who had returned to the workforce but continued to claim benefits, according to Dale Ziegler, deputy administrator for the Office of Unemployment Insurance at the Department of Labor. Those payments came even after a 2009 executive order by President Obama seeking new policies to cut payment errors, waste, fraud, and abuse…”