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Elections come and go; Obamacare is forever

A hefty statistic on the collective number of seats in government that Democrats have lost since President Obama took office in 2009 has been making the rounds lately. But as TCF fellow Michael Cohen writes, while these numbers may be "ugly," they are slightly misleading. What's more, they fail to recognize the major gains that Obama and the Democratic majority achieved during his first few years in office — including passing Obamacare into law.

It’s not surprising that, in a horserace political environment, we overemphasize political results. And there are certainly negative consequences for Democrats of losing so much political ground, particularly in state legislatures. It will take years to claw those seats back, and Republicans still have the ability to repeal major elements of Obama’s legislative legacy. But ultimately, Democrats were likely going to lose many of those seats anyway — what matters most is not politics, but policy, and what Democrats did with their fleeting majorities.

Read the rest of Cohen's article in the Boston Globe.

5 reasons drug testing welfare recipients is profoundly stupid

There's been a longtime stigma that suggests welfare recipients are often also users of illicit drugs. In reality, welfare recipients are no more likely to involved with drug use and testing often turns out to be a pointless endeavor. TCF fellow Harold Pollack is quoted in a Salon article saying that this process is only shaming welfare recipients. He says:

University of Chicago social scientist Harold Pollack, who has studied drug use among recipients of welfare (TANF) benefits, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, “However one runs the numbers, illicit drug use disorders are not common among welfare recipients. Other physical and mental health problems are far more prevalent. Yet these less-moralized concerns receive much less attention from legislators or the general public.”

Read the full Salon article about drug testing.

Tags: welfare applicants, tanf, drug testing

When Anti-Abortion Activists Mislead, Women Suffer

October 14, 2015 COMMENTARY BY: Clio Chang TOPICS: Social Insurance, Continuing Health Care Reform

The resources available to women that claim to provide reproductive health services may not always be as open and genuine as they claim to be, an issue that needs to be addressed to keep women healthy and safe.

Tags: women's rights, women's health, pro-choice

If you want mental health services to prevent violence, Medicaid expansion is critical

TCF fellow Harold Pollack responded to the recent shooting on an Oregon college campus, saying that if we are to use mental illness as a scapegoat for many shootings, then we must seriously consider providing better treatment to patients. He suggests better treatment in the form of Medicaid expansion—as opposed to gun reform. 

Cornyn’s proposal does not address the most glaring issue in American mental health policy: the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion was always the public health cornerstone of ACA. It remains the single most important measure to expand access to mental health and addiction treatment, serving severely vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addressing the complicated medical and psychiatric difficulties of many young men cycling through our jails and prisons.

Check out the rest of Pollack's article on Medicaid expansion via the Washington Post.

Tags: mental health, medicaid expansion, gun violence, gun reform

Improve and Repair: Three Ideas to Strengthen the ACA

TCF fellow Harold Pollack authored a piece featured in Democracy Journal, which praises the already successful Affordable Care Act, and goes beyond to offer specific policy upgrades that could make the system even more of a win. He suggests: 

1.) Allow employed parents greater access to the new marketplaces, and allow employers greater flexibility to offer—or not offer—health insurance coverage.
2.) Hire a new corps of 10,000 full-time federal enrollment assisters to help Americans enroll in Medicaid or the new marketplaces.
3.) Offer “public option” early Medicare coverage within health insurance marketplaces to people over 60.

Read Pollack's expanded explanation for his policy recommendations.

Tags: obamacare, insurance, coverage, affordable care act

Concentrated poverty is the new urban panic

An article published in Al Jazeera America cites Paul Jargowsky's "Architecture of Segregation" report, asking whether it is best to address concentrated poverty by breaking up distressed neighborhoods or attempting to fix them. The author concludes that relocation is not the answer.

Not well known to those who live in other neighborhoods are the many residents who devote their time to helping neighbors and working for change. Our policies need to support and reward that work. We must invest in decent schools and services, demand more respectful and effective policing and through media coverage, educational materials and public meetings actively challenge racist stereotypes that have caused generations of damage to our people and our cities.

Read the full article from Susan Greenbaum in Al Jazeera America.

Tags: neighborhood integration, low-income housing, high-poverty neighborhoods, concentrated poverty


Social Insurance

Social Insurance

Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.

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