Common Dreams Perspective: How inequality became as American as apple pie

Flickr photo

By Jessica Weisberg, Common Dreams

” … Five days after Black Friday’s Walmart strike and the day before a nationwide fast-food workers strike, President Obama delivered a speech at the Center for American Progress about economic disparity and low wages …”  To read the complete article, link here.

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Cironline/CNN: California rehab clinics recruit group home residents to pad client lists

Changing Steps and Clean & Free are two drug rehabilitation clinics run by the same person out of the same building in South Los Angeles. Both were suspended in a statewide fraud sweep in July. Google street view photo

By Will Evans and Christina Jewett, Center for Investigative Reporting

Los Angeles, CA.  -  “… A recent investigative series by The Center for Investigative Reporting and CNN uncovered rampant overbilling in California’s publicly funded drug rehabilitation system for the poor. It prompted a state crackdown that has cut funding to 177 Drug Medi-Cal clinic sites so far and opened dozens of Department of Justice probes … ”  to read the complete article, link here.

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NBC News: ‘I just instantly burst into tears’: Medical worker finally gets insurance on Obamacare website

JoAnn and Eric Smith of Clearwater, Fla., were able to sign up for health insurance on the federal exchange Monday after months of trying. Family photo

By Maggie Fox, NBC News

Clearwater, Fla. – … “Smith, a 60-year-old medical transcriptionist in Clearwater, Fla., must use the federal website to buy health insurance because Florida opted not to run its own. She’s been without health insurance for years and had been looking forward to getting subsidized coverage for herself and her husband Eric, 56, who’s unemployed.” … to read the complete article, link here.

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Off the Charts: Social Security benefits are modest by international standards

Recent austerity measures in other countries still leave their benefits well above U.S. levels, in most cases.  Greece and Iceland, for example — which topped the rankings in 2011 and 2009 — have slipped several notches but remain far more generous than the United States. To read the whole article, link here.

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CBPP: Long-term unemployment is still high

By Chad Stone, chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Today’s jobs report makes clear that, despite improvements this year, the labor market is still not strong enough for policymakers to let emergency federal unemployment insurance expire as scheduled during Christmas week.  In particular, long-term unemployment and its programs remain much higher than in each of the previous seven major U.S. recessions had expired.

That means more hardship for the families of workers who are still struggling to find a job, and it also means that families that lose Emergency Unemployment Compensation will have less to spend.  Reduced spending, in turn, will hurt the recovery and slow job creation.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that extending EUC through 2014 would boost employment by up to 300,000 jobs by the end of 2014.

There have only been four months since the end of the recession with job growth that good.

Labor market conditions are significantly better than in the depths of the Great Recession in 2008-09.  Nevertheless, nonfarm payroll employment has not yet returned to where it was at the December 2007 start of the recession, unemployment is still much too high, and the share of the population with a job remains well below what it would be in a normal labor market.

Policymakers enact emergency federal programs like the current Emergency Unemployment Compensation program to address the reality that, under such conditions, a much-larger-than-normal percentage of jobless workers will exhaust their regular state benefits (typically after 26 weeks) before they can find a new job.  Like its predecessors, EUC is designed to phase down as labor market conditions improve and eventually expire.

Therefore, the phasing down is underway.  The maximum number of weeks of EUC plus regular benefits that’s available has fallen from 99 to 73 but, more significantly, that maximum is available in only a handful of states with very high unemployment rates.  But, it’s too soon for the program to expire.

As benefits become less available and their maximum duration shrinks, the number of long-termed unemployed workers who are receiving benefits is falling faster than is the number of long-term unemployed, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Stone was the acting executive director of the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress in 2007 and before that staff director and chief economist for the Democratic staff of the committee from 2002 to 2006. He was chief economist for the Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02 and a senior economist and then chief economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1996 to 2001.

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Dayton Beach News-Journal: Hardly invincible, young people fall through cracks in system

Lindsay Smith, 28, holds some of her many medical bills as she talks about her struggles battling advance stage cervical cancer recently at her Port Orange home with her grandmother Norma Blumenshire and her 17-month-old son Jaxson Alderman. David Tucker, News-Journal photo

By Lacey McLaughlin, Dayton Beach News-Journal

” … The Stetson graduate learned last month the cancer returned for a third time. She is now undergoing another aggressive round of chemotherapy. Since aging out of her mother’s insurance plan at 26, Smith, now 28, said she has struggled to obtain continuous health coverage through Medicaid, the state’s insurance program for the poor …”   To read the complete article, link here.

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The Independent: World Aids Day 2013 – The war on the epidemic is being won, but discrimination against sufferers is still rife

… But Mr Sidibé also warned: “We have not been able to change completely the perception of people against the most-at-risk populations. The stigma, discrimination and criminalisation of those people – sex workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men – all those groups are mainly at risk of continuing to be completely forgotten.” … to read complete article, link here.

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AJC PERSPECTIVE: Georgia’s working poor denied health-care lifeline

Figure 1: Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions, as of October 22, 2013

Next year, millions of working-poor Americans will become eligible for Medicaid coverage for the first time, giving them much better access to medical treatment and financially bolstering strained health-care delivery systems in their states.

But not in Georgia.

To read the complete perspective, link here.

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