Saturday, April 28, 2007


U.S. Tax Data Doesn't Match Anti-Tax Rhetoric

Citizens for Tax Justice recently released an analysis of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Census that showed that in 2005, total federal, state and local taxes in the United States were 25.8% of our gross domestic product, ranking 28th among developed countries. Only Korea (25.6%) and Mexico (19.0%) had lower taxes. In terms of corporate taxes, in 2004 (the last year for which there is complete OECD data), U.S. corporate taxes have fallen to only 1.9% of our GDP, compared to 3.2% of other OECD countries.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Rockefeller-Snowe Legislation: Bipartisan Blueprint for Increased Children’s Healthcare

Last week Senators Rockefeller and Snowe announced they would be introducing bipartisan legislation to strengthen the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Up for reauthorization by the end of 2007, SCHIP has been a remarkably successful program in reducing the number of children without healthcare coverage. In Ohio, children at 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for SCHIP. Between1998 (when the program began) and 2004, the number of uninsured children in Ohio dropped from 9.8 percent to 5.4 percent. Unlike Ohio’s children, Ohio saw a one percent increase in uninsured adults in the same time period.

Increasing the number of children covered and enhancing flexibility among the states are central to the Rockefeller-Snowe legislation. Over the next five years, the bill provides more than twice the amount of money currently allotted for the program. States will have enough federal matching dollars to sustain current program levels and cover more uninsured kids. To prevent the shortfalls some states have recently experienced, funding streams for SCHIP will be based on the level of current need for enrolled children and the resources needed to cover those currently uninsured. Funding formulas account for health inflation and population growth in an attempt to provide a “stable and predictable” level of funding that will also be responsive to redistribution needs as some states’ unused dollars are sent to states facing shortages.

When originally enacted in 2007, a central tenant of SCHIP was to rely on the states to craft plans that were directly responsive to their needs, recognizing there is no one size fits all model for healthcare. The Rockefeller-Snowe legislation continues in that tradition. Among the options available will be pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women, covering legal immigrant children and pregnant women, as well as covering children of state employees under certain circumstances. Recently citizenship determination rules have made it harder for states to cover eligible children whose parents cannot produce the necessary documentation. This new legislation allows states to decide how best to establish citizenship for potential enrollees.

The bill also sets up a new “Express Lane” eligibility option. States will be able to use the financial information gained from other areas such as WIC and the school lunch program to help identify and enroll eligible children. It also provides money to incentivize states to update their systems so they can use Express Lane for eligibility determination.

Governors across the country are already prepared to support this important bipartisan legislation. In Ohio, Governor Strickland has already proposed expanding SCHIP coverage to families at 300 percent of the poverty level. The Rockefeller-Snowe bill will maintain the state flexibility for Ohio to do just that and offers a strong blueprint for covering more kids in Ohio.

Monday, April 02, 2007


State Budgeting Matters Takes A Look At the Medicaid Budget

Our resident state budget wunderkind, Richard Sheridan, takes look at the Medicaid budget proposed by Governor Ted Strickland in State Budgeting Matters. It's packed full with lots of interesting details. Check it out.

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