Time has a short article summarizing the origins of the modern health insurance system. It focuses on the decision of the American Medical Association in 1938 to allow for a singular health insurance model for all of its members to adopt. That decision limited the development of competing models and led the U.S. down the path toward the current system.
The Other 49
- The Pew Charitable Trusts released a handy data visualization tool that examines the 50 states over the last 14 years based on revenue and expenditures. North Carolina is at the top of the 2nd quartile in the rankings with revenues equaling 104 percent of expenditures from 2002-2015, though the majority of states were within a few percentage points of 100 percent. Eleven states, however, have posted structural deficits during that time.
- Focusing more on the present, the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) released its Fiscal Survey of the States in June. Some of the key findings:
- States experienced sluggish general fund revenue growth in fiscal 2017 of 2.4 percent, with 33 states reporting collections below budget projections.
- At the press time, at least 23 states had already made net mid-year budget cuts totaling $4.9 billion in fiscal 2017.
- General fund revenues are projected to grow 3.1 percent in fiscal 2018 based on governors’ budgets.
- The Christian Science Monitor has a quick overview of a New Jersey initiative to transform how physics is taught. The program is exposing more students to physics earlier and is increasing the opportunities for non-physics teachers to gain the qualifications teach physics. By affecting the supply and demand of physics instructions, the initiative is enhancing and diversifying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs.
A New Slant
The Avenue blog at Brookings has a quick, fun piece using the board game Scrabble to frame cities’ roles in economic development. A summary will not do it justice, but if economic development and/or Scrabble are of interest, it is worth a quick look.
Bloomberg Philanthropies released a report examining the results of one of its funding initiatives in Providence, Rhode Island. The “Providence Talks” program sought to reduce the “word gap” experienced by disadvantaged children prior to kindergarten. The social science shows that pre-K children from low-income households hear as many as 30 million fewer words than children from middle and upper income households. Researchers believe this dearth of vocabulary can lead to all sorts of school-age challenges.
The Providence program showed some positive results by introducing a caregiver coaching program and a “word pedometer” that tracked spoken word goals in the same way that traditional pedometers track steps. While the achievement goals of the program will not be known for some time, the participant satisfaction results were strong and participants showed marked increase in the the number of words heard by pre-K children from the beginning to the end of the study.
On a side note, the structure and the format of the report are refreshing: it clearly lays out the problem, the approach, the findings and the how it can be replicated. It is a great model for conveying this sort of information.
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