Health & Welfare

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11/19/14Is There A Link Between Mental Health and Gun Violence?newyorker.comMass Shootings, Health & Welfare & Maria Kon...
On Friday, October 24th, during the busy lunch hour in the school cafeteria of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, in Marysville, Washington, Jaylen Fryberg opened fire on his classmates, killing one student and wounding four others, three of whom later died from their injuries. Then he killed himself. Just a week earlier, Fryberg had been crowned prince of the school’s homecoming court—he was a community volunteer, student athlete, and all-around “good kid.” But within hours of the shooting, that picture had changed. Quick...
11/17/14When Social Security will let you take only one benefit at a timepbs.orgSocial Security
Boston University economist Larry Kotlikoff has spent every week, for over two years, answering questions about what is likely your largest financial asset — your Social Security benefits. His Social Security original 34 “secrets”, his additional secrets, his Social Security “mistakes” and his Social Security gotchas have prompted so many of you to write in that we feature “Ask Larry” every Monday. Find a complete list of his columns here. And keep sending us your Social Security questions. Kotlikoff’s state-of-the-art r...
11/17/14Poll: Americans Think Ebola Is a Bigger Health Problem Than Cancer and Obesitynewrepublic.comHealth & Welfare, Ebola & Cancer
Surgeon Martin Salia, who had contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, died Monday in a Nebraska hospital, becoming the second person to die of the virus in the U.S. Meanwhile, an estimated 540,000 people have died of cancer so far this year, and another 100,000 from conditions related to obesity. But a Gallup poll released Monday found that Americans consider Ebola a more urgent health problem than either cancer or obesity. Respondents ranked only healthcare costs and healthcare access higher than Ebola.
10/21/14Scientists Just Discovered How To Determine If Water Contamination Comes From Frackingthinkprogress.orgFracking, Health & Welfare & Oil & Gas Indus...
A team of U.S. and French scientists say they have developed a new tool that can specifically tell when environmental contamination comes from waste produced by hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. In peer-reviewed research published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on Monday, the researchers say their new forensic tool can distinguish fracking wastewater pollution from other contamination that results from other industrial processes — such as conventional oil and gas drilling. Fracking is a c...
10/17/14Joni Ernst: Poor People Aren't Entitled to Food, Clothing, or Health Carenewrepublic.comWelfare Program & Joni Ernst
The unearthed recording of Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst decrying the fact that Americans are insufficiently “self-sufficient” has invited comparisons to the hidden camera footage of Mitt Romney writing off 47 percent of the electorate, and commentary on the candor with which she lumps government health insurance subsidies (which she, too, enjoys as a state employee) together with welfare spending. But the most revealing thing about the comments is how breezily she renders contradictory judgments about the concept of...
10/16/14Fascinating new study shows that helping poor people vote improves public healthvox.comHealth & Welfare, Right to Vote & Poor
Democracy isn't just good for political rights — it's good for public health. A recent paper, written by Princeton economist Thomas Fujiwara, found that, when Brazil made it easier for poor people to vote, the percentage of Brazilian babies born at low birth weight (a strong predictor of infant mortality) declined. In other words, expanding voting rights made babies healthier.
10/16/14Battling Ebola Without a Surgeon Generaltheatlantic.comHealth & Welfare & Ebola
Writing for The Atlantic in 2011, CDC director Thomas Frieden weighed in on the release of Contagion, the modestly successful Matt Damon flick about the outbreak of a deadly and mysterious virus. After clarifying that the movie is not a documentary, Frieden comments: Contagion shows that fear is also contagious. To address concerns, it's crucial that government promptly communicates what we know, what we don't know, and what we're doing to find out.
10/14/14How the ‘War on Women’ Is Deepening Racial Inequalitythenation.comHealth & Welfare, Racial Politics & Women's...
In 1983, when the Department of Health and Human Services assembled the first task force to examine women’s health issues, the appointed experts made it clear that the defining challenges weren’t only related to differences between men and women but also to inequality between some women and others. One fact the panel noted in its final report was that Hispanic women died in childbirth three times as often as white women; black women died four times more frequently. “If a woman is a member of an ethnic or a cultural minority...
10/13/14Ebola’s Fear Factornewyorker.comHealth & Welfare & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
In early March of 2003, when SARS swept into Hong Kong from Southern China, the streets of one of the world’s most densely populated areas were practically deserted. Venders in kiosks sold face masks and hand sanitizer to anyone brave, or foolish, enough to leave home. The fear of a new highly contagious disease is understandable, and, with no effective treatment or vaccine for SARS, it was difficult to know what to do. The World Health Organization recommended that officials in the countries most affected warn people with...
10/09/14The Supreme Court’s next attack on civil rights: The justices will likely end the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact r...slate.comSection 8 Housing & Civil & Human Rights
Last Thursday the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the case of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project. The case concerns the “disparate impact” rule, a legal guideline embedded in the 1968 Fair Housing Act that says discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional to be discrimination. This rule has been at the bedrock of fair-housing enforcement for more than four decades. Another way to understand disparate impact is this: It’s a way to confront the realities of rac...
09/25/14'My Degree Has Been Pretty Much Useless'huffingtonpost.comStudent Loans & Colleges and Universities
I am 23 years old. I've got $60,000 in debt from student loans. I make around $10 an hour working as a cook, and I live off of about $20 a week after I cover rent and other expenses. Since I graduated, my degree has been pretty much useless. When people see that I have a degree, it's like it doesn't even mean anything. Every job that I've done, it's kind of been by personal relation or word of mouth.
09/24/14Subprime students: For-profit universities make a killing from poor and minority students.motherjones.comStudent Loans & Colleges and Universities
Imagine corporations that intentionally target low-income single mothers as ideal customers. Imagine that these same companies claim to sell tickets to the American dream—gainful employment, the chance for a middle class life. Imagine that the fine print on these tickets, once purchased, reveals them to be little more than debt contracts, profitable to the corporation's investors, but disastrous for its customers. And imagine that these corporations receive tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to do this dirty...
09/11/1433,000 senior citizens had Social Security garnished last year to pay back student debtvox.comStudent Loans, Social Security & Senior Citi...
Student debt isn't just a problem for Millennials. It's increasingly common — though still very rare — among the elderly, who have $18.2 billion in student debt, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office: The total amount of student debt held by people over 65 is still very small compared to the $1 trillion in outstanding debt. But it's grown rapidly since 2005. And the report says that most of these elderly debtors borrowed for their own education, not their children's or grandchildren's. Ma...
09/07/14Retirement: When to start Social Securityusatoday.comSocial Security
Your Social Security can be worth more in golden years' income than your 401(k) or individual retirement account. The trick: Know at what age to best file for benefits. Consider a married couple who both begin Social Security with a first-year combined benefit of just $23,304, based on the Social Security program fact sheet. As of Dec. 31, 2013, the average retired benefits recipient gets $1,294 a month and a spouse $648 a month. A retirement plan needs a value today of $543,147 to provide the same income as Social Secur...
09/02/14How one family can collect 8 different Social Security benefitspbs.orgSocial Security
For some households, it makes sense for a worker to start reduced retirement benefits early in order to permit other family members to immediately start collecting Social Security benefits on the worker’s earnings record. The worker can then suspend his or her retirement benefit at full retirement age and start it up again at 70 at a 32 percent higher value after inflation. This is the Start-Stop-Start Strategy I discussed in a previous column. Let me share an example of this strategy, which is particularly interesting b...
08/26/14Obama tells veterans better mental health care on the wayreuters.comVeterans Benefits, Barack Obama & Department...
President Barack Obama sought to make amends with veterans on Tuesday, announcing steps to expand their access to mental health care and an initiative with financial companies to lower home loan costs for military families. The president was embarrassed earlier this year when it was revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had been covering up lengthy delays in providing healthcare to former military personnel.
08/20/14The Student Loan Crusader: How Elizabeth Warren Wants to Reduce Debtrollingstone.comStudent Loans, Elizabeth Warren & College St...
Senator Elizabeth Warren is advancing her fight for middle-class families with a legislative agenda focused on college affordability and student debt.
07/31/14U.S. Senate sends VA reform bill to Obamaazcentral.comVeterans Benefits, U.S. Senate & Department...
Legislation to improve veterans' access to medical care passes easily in the Senate with minimal debate.
07/29/14Poverty Part V: Ryan has good questions but few answersdelawareonline.comEarned Income Tax Credit & Welfare Program
The challenge is how to provide support to the poor without reducing incentives to work.
07/29/14Everyone's favorite anti-poverty program doesn't reduce the poverty ratevox.comEarned Income Tax Credit & Welfare Program
Of course, the Earned Income Tax Credit *does* cut poverty. But our official poverty statistics don't reflect that.

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