This week on Off the Charts, we focused on health reform, the federal budget, state budgets, housing policy, safety net programs, and unemployment insurance.
- On health reform, we issued a statement from Robert Greenstein on the Supreme Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and Judy Solomon explained why the Medicaid expansion in the ACA is a very good deal for states. Paul Van de Water pointed out that only a small minority of Americans will face a penalty for failing to get health coverage, and he refuted an assertion that the Supreme Court’s limitation on the health reform law’s Medicaid expansion will add greatly to the law’s cost.
- On the federal budget, Paul Van de Water rebutted claims that spending cuts in deficit-reduction deals don’t “stick.”
- On state budgets, Phil Oliff noted that 31 states have had to close $55 billion in budget gaps for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1 in most states. Elizabeth McNichol explained that while many states are reporting budget surpluses for fiscal year 2012, state budget problems are far from over, and she clarified a report about recent state and local employment growth.
- On housing policy, Douglas Rice discussed how more than 50,000 low-income families could lose housing vouchers next year under a funding bill before the House.
- On safety net programs, Indivar Dutta-Gupta cited studies showing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) not only encourages work but also reduces poverty, helps families meet basic needs, and improves children’s achievement in school and likely increases their earnings as adults. He also highlighted research showing that the EITC significantly boosts work effort, especially among single mothers with limited education. Finally, we featured excerpts from Jared Bernstein’s congressional testimony on how safety net and tax benefit programs affect recipients’ work incentives.
- On unemployment insurance, Hannah Shaw explained that starting this week, fewer weeks of Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits are available to workers in 24 states. She also described the changes in the EUC program that produced this outcome.
In other news, we released reports on evidence that spending cuts in deficit-reduction packages do “stick,” the continued impact of the recession on state budgets, and the EITC’s role in encouraging work and reducing poverty.