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The New Bipartisan Consensus for an Individual Mandate (Research Report)
Linda J. Blumberg, John Holahan

The individual mandate is perhaps the most controversial feature of the Affordable Care Act. Unless exempt, Americans are required to obtain or face a tax penalty. A recent proposal from leading republicans, Senators Orin Hatch and Richard Burrand and Congressman Fred Upton, contains strong penalties for not signing up during open enrollment and maintaining continuous coverage. Similarly, Medicare’s Part B and Part D contain significant penalties for having periods without qualified coverage. Across all of these policies or proposals, penalties differ in design, but all have a common theme of seeking to avoid the destabilizing effect of allowing individuals to wait until they are sick to obtain coverage. Thus all contain some form of an individual mandate.

Posted to Web: April 01, 2015Publication Date: April 01, 2015

Tax Refunds and Affordable Care Act Reconciliation (Research Report)
Leonard E. Burman, Gordon Mermin, Elena Ramirez

People may purchase subsidized health insurance through the ACA exchanges with premiums based on projected future income. However, if actual income is higher than estimated, they may be required to repay part or all of the subsidy when they file tax returns. This “reconciliation” process could raise taxes substantially for many ACA participants. However, analysis of income tax return data suggests that for most lower-income filers, the reconciliation will reduce the refund they receive rather than require them to remit additional tax because their refunds exceed the reconciliation amount. We conclude by making suggestions to improve the reconciliation process.

Posted to Web: April 01, 2015Publication Date: April 01, 2015

A Review of Child Care Needs of Eligible Families in Massachusetts (Research Report)
Julia Isaacs, Michael Katz, Sarah Minton, Molly Michie

This report reviews the need for subsidized child care in Massachusetts. Gaps between need and supply were identified by comparing estimates of children needing care to licensing and subsidy data. Additional information was collected through interviews with experts across the state. The report's findings include gaps for infant and toddler care, children in two of six sub-state regions, and families working nontraditional hours. It also highlighted challenges geographically matching needs and supply and the link between the child care subsidy system and the broader child care market.

Posted to Web: March 27, 2015Publication Date: March 27, 2015

Review of Massachusetts Child Care Subsidy Eligibility Policies and Practices (Research Report)
Gina Adams, Michael Katz

This report summarizes findings from a review of Massachusetts’ child care subsidy eligibility policies and implementation practices. The review included interviews and focus groups with approximately 60 experts and stakeholders with a broad range of perspectives on the system. It identifies several important issues that, if addressed, could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the subsidized child care system. Such reforms would help fill in some of the gaps in the current policy framework, which has many strong components. This review is one component of a legislatively mandated assessment of the Massachusetts subsidized child care system.

Posted to Web: March 27, 2015Publication Date: March 27, 2015

Balancing Quality Early Education and Parents' Workforce Success (Research Report)
Gina Adams, Michael Katz

This report examines the Massachusetts child care subsidy system's balance between providing quality early childhood education and providing workforce support for parents. It is based on qualitative and quantitative data and findings from several studies conducted as part of a legislatively mandated assessment of the Massachusetts subsidized child care system. It highlights some of the key gaps that appear to undercut one or both goals, with findings organized in four areas; subsidy system goals and administrative approach, funding levels and allocation of subsidies, supply of subsidized child care, and challenges associated with meeting the needs of parents with nontraditional workforce patterns.

Posted to Web: March 27, 2015Publication Date: March 27, 2015

Assessing the Merits of Photo EBT Cards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Research Brief)
Gregory B. Mills, Christopher Lowenstein

In seeking to reduce the trafficking of benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), states are considering policies to require that SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards include a photograph of the household head. Such policies have sparked controversy, placing in direct conflict the desires to bolster program integrity with the statutory rights of SNAP household members to utilize their program benefits and receive equal customer treatment. Drawing on Massachusetts’ 2013 implementation of a photo EBT policy, this brief suggests that such policies are not a cost-effective means to promote program integrity and may hinder benefit access.

Posted to Web: March 26, 2015Publication Date: March 26, 2015

Reducing Poverty in the United States: Results of a Microsimulation Analysis of the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Policy Package (Research Report)
Kye Lippold

A package of five policies—a transitional jobs (TJ) program, a $10.10 minimum wage, expanded earned income tax credits, a tax credit for senior citizens and people with disabilities, and expanded child care subsidies—could cut the national poverty rate by at least half. Using the TRIM3 microsimulation model and the Supplemental Poverty measure, the analysis shows the national poverty rate falling fall from 14.8 percent to either 7.4 percent or 6.3 percent, depending on the take-up rate assumed for the TJ program. Poverty is greatly reduced for all age groups and race/ethnicity groups.

Posted to Web: March 25, 2015Publication Date: March 25, 2015

Evaluation of the 100,000 Homes Campaign (Research Report)
Josh Leopold, Helen Ho

The 100,000 Homes Campaign had a major impact on national efforts to end homelessness, despite its modest size and resources. Community Solutions recruited nearly every major US city to join the Campaign and exceeded its goal of placing 100,000 chronically or vulnerable homeless Americans into permanent housing. Communities that participated in the Campaign reported greater reductions in unsheltered, veterans, and chronic homelessness than non-participants. They also reported that the Campaign brought new energy to their work and helped spur the adoption of Housing First principles. This report describes the campaign, our evaluation methods, and results.

Posted to Web: March 24, 2015Publication Date: March 24, 2015

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative: Thinking Local for State Justice Reinvestment (Research Report)
Elizabeth Davies, Samantha Harvell, Lindsey Cramer

Local governments across the U.S. are striving to improve public safety and optimize criminal justice investments. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) supports these efforts by convening justice system decision-makers to devise data-driven approaches to criminal justice reform that will generate savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based public safety strategies. This policy brief considers the importance of collaboration with local justice partners in the formulation and implementation of state­ level justice reinvestment solutions. It highlights the need to share data to identify and implement cost­ saving solutions, partner to promote successful policy implementation, and invest locally.

Posted to Web: March 24, 2015Publication Date: March 24, 2015

Early Steps Down the Path of GSE Reform (Research Report)
Jim Parrott

In his March 5, 2015 speech, US Treasury official Michael Stegman made a compelling case for how we can finally move on long term reform of the government-sponsored enterprises, and why it’s important to do so. As an invitation and an outline, this speech was more significant than many realized.

Posted to Web: March 23, 2015Publication Date: March 23, 2015

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