Social Policy

New York City Quarterly Housing Update 2010: 3rd Quarter

New York City Quarterly Housing Update 2010: 3rd Quarter

Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
01/01/2010

After analyzing six key indicators of housing market performance for the third quarter of 2010, NYU's Furman Center finds that New York City home prices are stabilizing, but still remain 22% below peak. The report also finds that a decrease in third-quarter foreclosure filings compared to last year may point to a slowdown in the foreclosure crisis. The Quarterly Housing Update incorporates sales data, development indicators and foreclosures, and presents a repeat sales index for each borough to capture price appreciation while controlling for housing quality.

Pension Obligation Bonds: Financial Crisis Exposes Risks (Brief Number 9 in State and Local Pension Plans Series ed.)

Pension Obligation Bonds: Financial Crisis Exposes Risks (Brief Number 9 in State and Local Pension Plans Series ed.)
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Munnell, A., Calabrese, T., Monk, A., Aubry, J.-P
01/01/2010

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Some state and local governments issue Pension Obligation Bonds (POBs) to raise cash to cover their required pension contributions.
  • POBs allow governments to avoid increasing taxes in bad times and could reduce pension costs, but they pose considerable risks.
  • Those who issue POBs are often fiscally stressed and not well-positioned to handle the investment risk.

Transportation to Clinic: Findings from a Pilot Clinic-Based Survey of Low-Income Suburbanites

Transportation to Clinic: Findings from a Pilot Clinic-Based Survey of Low-Income Suburbanites
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 2010.  DOI: 10.1007/s10903-010-9410-0

Silver D, J Blustein, BC Weitzman.
01/01/2010

Health care policymakers have cited transportation barriers as key obstacles to providing health care to low-income suburbanites, particularly because suburbs have become home to a growing number of recent immigrants who are less likely to own cars than their neighbors. In a suburb of New York City, we conducted a pilot survey of low income, largely immigrant clients in four public clinics, to find out how much transportation difficulties limit their access to primary care. Clients were receptive to the opportunity to participate in the survey (response rate = 94%). Nearly one-quarter reported having transportation problems that had caused them to miss or reschedule a clinic appointment in the past. Difficulties included limited and unreliable local bus service, and a tenuous connection to a car. Our pilot work suggests that this population is willing to participate in a survey on this topic. Further, since even among those attending clinic there was significant evidence of past transportation problems, it suggests that a population based survey would yield information about substantial transportation barriers to health care.

Meeting the Other: Judaism, Pluralism and Truth

Meeting the Other: Judaism, Pluralism and Truth
Criteria of Discernment in Interreligious Dialogue

David M, Elcott, Catherine Cornille,
08/01/2009

"Discernment as the evaluation of one religious community by another is a critical question in contemporary interfaith dialogue theory and practice. How do the members of different religions judge the relative worth of other religious traditions? And how does this judgment connect with the complicated religious lives of modern people? The question of religious discernment has become much more pressing in an age of the globalization of religion along with economic and cultural exchange. What is so refreshing about these essays is that the authors do not shy away from the fact that every religious tradition does have ways of judging the relative merits (and demerits) of the religions of other people . . . As the Kongzi (Confucius) taught so long ago, we need to find harmony but not uniformity. These essays help us on this path

Medicaid Patients at High Risk for Frequent Hospital Admission: Real-time Identification and Remedial Risks

Medicaid Patients at High Risk for Frequent Hospital Admission: Real-time Identification and Remedial Risks
Journal of Urban Health. 86, no 2 230-241

Goldfrank, L., Billings, J., Raven, M., et al.
03/01/2009

Patients with frequent hospitalizations generate a disproportionate share of hospital visits and costs. Accurate determination of patients who might benefit from interventions is challenging: most patients with frequent admissions in 1 year would not continue to have them in the next. Our objective was to employ a validated regression algorithm to case-find Medicaid patients at high-risk for hospitalization in the next 12 months and identify intervention-amenable characteristics to reduce hospitalization risk. We obtained encounter data for 36,457 Medicaid patients with any visit to an urban public hospital from 2001 to 2006 and generated an algorithm-based score for hospitalization risk in the subsequent 12 months for each patient (0 = lowest, 100 = highest). To determine medical and social contributors to the current admission, we conducted in-depth interviews with high-risk hospitalized patients (scores >50) and analyzed associated Medicaid claims data. An algorithm-based risk score >50 was attained in 2,618 (7.2%) patients. The algorithm’s positive predictive value was equal to 0.67. During the study period, 139 high-risk patients were admitted: 60 met inclusion criteria and 50 were interviewed. Fifty-six percent cited the Emergency Department as their usual source of care or had none. Sixty-eight percent had >1 chronic medical conditions, and 42% were admitted for conditions related to substance use. Sixty percent were homeless or precariously housed. Mean Medicaid expenditures for the interviewed patients were $39,188 and $84,040 per patient for the years immediately prior to and following study participation, respectively. Findings including high rates of substance use, homelessness, social isolation, and lack of a medical home will inform the design of interventions to improve community-based care and reduce hospitalizations and associated costs.

Microfinance Meets the Market

Microfinance Meets the Market
February Journal of Economic Perspectives 23(1), Winter:  167-192.

Morduch, J., Cull, R. & Demirguc-Kunt, A.
02/01/2009

In this paper, we examine the economic logic behind microfinance institutions and consider the movement from socially oriented nonprofit microfinance institutions to for-profit microfinance. Drawing on a large dataset that includes most of the world's leading microfinance institutions, we explore eight questions about the microfinance "industry": Who are the lenders? How widespread is profitability? Are loans in fact repaid at the high rates advertised? Who are the customers? Why are interest rates so high? Are profits high enough to attract profit-maximizing investors? How important are subsidies? The evidence suggests that investors seeking pure profits would have little interest in most of the institutions we see that are now serving poorer customers. We will suggest that the future of microfinance is unlikely to follow a single path. The recent clash between supporters of profit-driven Banco Compartamos and of the Grameen Bank with its "social business" model offers us a false choice. Commercial investment is necessary to fund the continued expansion of microfinance, but institutions with strong social missions, many taking advantage of subsidies, remain best placed to reach and serve the poorest customers, and some are doing so at a massive scale. The market is a powerful force, but it cannot fill all gaps.

Public Pensions, Public Budgets, and the Risks of Pension Obligation Bonds

Public Pensions, Public Budgets, and the Risks of Pension Obligation Bonds
Society of Actuaries, Public Pension Finance Symposium

Calabrese, Thad.
01/01/2009

Budgeting is the core financial task in subnational governments. Although limited research has outlined the relationship between the annual operating budget and public pension funds, the existing literature has not considered the manner in which financial resources are measured within government budgets, how this measurement of resources might affect public budget decisions, and how the interaction of the budget with the actuarial model can lead public budget managers to engage in financially damaging transactions such as pension obligation bonds. This paper fills this void, and argues that the short-term nature of public budgeting coupled with the actuarial model's use of expected investment returns rather than a market discount rate for pension liability measurement causes governments to shift risk to future generations. This paper also recommends that a blended discount rate for pension liabilities be considered more appropriate when governments fund their annual pension expenditures using debt rather than equity (such as tax revenues).

Recent Changes in Dutch Health Insurance: Individual Mandate or Social Insurance

Recent Changes in Dutch Health Insurance: Individual Mandate or Social Insurance
Expanding Access to Health Care. T.F. Buss and P. Van de Water (eds.) National Academy of Public Administration. New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Okma, K.
01/01/2009

The U.S. health care system faces well-known problems: 47 million people without health insurance, rapidly rising costs that consume 16 percent of the country'e economic output, and widely uneven quality of care. Even many people with coverage are experiencing serious problems paying for the rapidly rising costs of health care and insurance.

This book--a joint product of the National Academy of Public Administration and the National Academy of Social Insurance--undertakes a sweeping analysis of the management and administrative issues that arise in expanding health care coverage. The book identifies the core administrative functions that need to be performed in assuring access to health coverage, describes how these functions are performed at present and under proposed alternatives, draws lessons from experience in the U.S. and abroad, and assesses suggested administrative approaches designed to facilitate the improvement and expansion of health care coverage.

Adequate health care is one of today's most crucial domestic policy concerns. Expanding Access to Health Care is designed to bring together in one place some of the best thinking on the subject, not as an exercise in advocacy, but rather to lay out the issues in a balanced way so that policymakers, researchers, and citizens can better understand the complex details of health care reform.

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