January 27, 2023

Percentage of Americans Lacking Health Coverage Falls Again

In 2012, the bureau said, 15.4 percent of people were uninsured, down from 15.7 percent in 2011. The number of uninsured people, 48 million, was not statistically different from the estimate of 48.6 million in 2011.

David S. Johnson, the chief of social and economic statistics at the bureau, said that much of the increase in coverage last year was attributable to government programs. Medicare covered 15.7 percent of the population, compared with 15.2 percent the previous year.

Census Bureau data showed significant changes in coverage over the last 13 years.

From 1999 to 2012, the bureau said, the proportion of people with private health insurance declined to 63.9 percent, from 73 percent, while the proportion with government coverage rose to 32.6 percent, from 24.2 percent.

One of the most popular provisions of the 2010 health care law allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until age 26. That provision appears to be having its intended effect.

Among people ages 19 to 25, the proportion who were uninsured declined to 27.2 percent in 2012. Though the bureau said that figure was not significantly different from the 2011 rate, it was down from 29.8 percent two years earlier.

The proportion of children younger than 19 without health insurance declined last year, to 9.2 percent, from 9.7 percent in 2011.

Chris Jennings, the health policy coordinator at the White House, said the census figures showed that President Obama’s policies were “making progress in expanding access to affordable health care.” Mr. Jennings said the progress would accelerate in coming months as millions of Americas gain access to coverage under the 2010 health care law.

Mr. Jennings said the data tended to disprove Republican predictions that the new law would undermine employer-sponsored coverage. The bureau reported that the proportion of people with employment-based coverage — 54.9 percent in 2012 — was “not statistically different” from the share in 2011.

Noting that children were much more likely than adults to have insurance, Mr. Jennings said this reflected “more than two decades of bipartisan effort to expand access” to coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The proportion of Hispanics who were uninsured last year declined by a percentage point, to 29.1 percent. But it was still much higher than the comparable rates for blacks (19 percent), Asian-Americans (15.1 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (11.1 percent).

The Census Bureau also reported these findings:

¶The proportion of the foreign-born population without health insurance in 2012 was about two and a half times that of the native-born population — 32 percent, as against 13 percent.

¶Two of the nation’s four major regions, the South and the West, accounted for 61 percent of the nation’s population, but 71 percent of all the uninsured.

¶The uninsured rate was higher among people with lower incomes and lower among those with higher incomes. For example, 24.9 percent of people in households with annual incomes of less than $25,000 had no health insurance coverage last year. Among people in households with incomes of $75,000 or more, the comparable figure was 7.9 percent.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/us/percentage-of-americans-lacking-health-coverage-falls-again.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks: How to Build a Better Regulator

In this weekend’s Your Money column, I look at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to become a sort of open-source regulator, where consumers help make the rules and suggest tweaks to regulatory works in progress.

The bureau has already put a fair bit of work in on this. There is its blog, which accepts comments (unlike, say, the White House’s). And the bureau has asked for input on its efforts to create a simpler mortgage disclosure form and figure out which nonbanks are big enough to fall within the bureau’s statutory purview.

Matt Stoller, whom I quote in the column, says he hopes that the bureau will do things like create a forum for consumers to post, for instance, recordings of calls that debt collectors have made to them so that the bureau can listen in, too.

What else would you suggest that the bureau do to help bring the public (both banks and consumers) in on its everyday activities?

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bb3b2830b0876a9d5adf42dc2da9f4dc

G.M. Still Hopeful of Fully Paying Back the Government

The executive, Daniel F. Akerson, said that G.M. was working to maximize its payback to taxpayers, but that the government did not make a bad investment even if it did not recover the full amount given to the company.

“At some level, the government’s got to decide: are they an investor or were they trying to save the industry?” Mr. Akerson told reporters ahead of G.M.’s first annual stockholder meeting since its 2009 government-financed bankruptcy.

A report last week by the White House National Economic Council concluded that the government would probably have to write off about $14 billion of the $80 billion spent rescuing the auto industry by the Bush and Obama administrations.

Mr. Akerson said that a G.M. liquidation would have saddled taxpayers with more than $17 billion in pension liabilities. G.M. has cut its pension shortfall in half since 2009, he said, adding that he wanted the plan to be fully financed during his tenure as chief executive.

Because most of the $50 billion G.M. received was converted to an equity stake held by the Treasury Department, Mr. Akerson said G.M. had “technically” repaid its debt to the government, but he added that executives were “doing our level best” to help taxpayers recoup the remaining amount. The Treasury, which still owns 26 percent of G.M., has recovered about half of its investment in G.M.

Shares of G.M. rose 22 cents on Tuesday, to $28.78, compared with the initial public offering price of $33 in November. To break even, the Treasury needs to sell its remaining shares at an average price of about $53.

The Treasury is expected to begin selling more of its G.M. stake as soon as August, but it can wait longer if the shares remain below their original price. G.M. has no say in the matter, Mr. Akerson said.

He said the recent decline in G.M.’s share value mirrored what had happened to competitors’ stocks and attributed it to economic instability.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about a jobless recovery,” he said.

He said G.M.’s performance was tied to the economy and that the government needed to reduce its deficit to calm the markets and avoid “playing chicken” with its credit rating.

G.M.’s stockholder meeting, held in Detroit for the first time since 1990, was sparsely attended and contained none of the tension that had been common before its bankruptcy. The company has posted five consecutive quarterly profits, earning $4.7 billion last year. Mr. Akerson opened the meeting by contrasting G.M.’s progress since bankruptcy with its bleak outlook before that.

“General Motors almost made history by not making any more future histories,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9d0e78b29454f71abbbc7d0e55e3b86e

Debt Ceiling Increase Is Expected, Geithner Says

In a pair of appearances on Sunday talk shows, Mr. Geithner said the Republican leaders made it clear to President Obama in a White House meeting last Wednesday that they would go along with the administration’s efforts to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a financial crisis.

“Congress is going to have to raise the debt limit,” Mr. Geithner said on the NBC program “Meet the Press.” “They understand that. That’s absolutely essential to preserve the creditworthiness of the United States of America.”

He went on: “You know, we’re a country that meets its obligations, and we have to meet our obligations, and they recognize that. In fact, I heard the leadership tell the president that again on Wednesday.”

Republican leaders responded rather indirectly to Mr. Geithner later on Sunday, focusing on their demands for greater spending cuts in next year’s budget in exchange for a vote to raise the debt ceiling, rather than on whether they actually planned to vote for the increase.

In a statement, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, said Mr. Boehner had made it plain to the president at the White House meeting that more spending cuts would be the price for a debt ceiling deal.

“Boehner has been very clear: the American people demand that any increase in the debt ceiling be accompanied by spending cuts, and real reforms so we can keep cutting,” Mr. Steel said.

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, gave a similar response to Mr. Geithner’s assertions on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

“We want cuts in spending accompanying a raising of the debt ceiling, and that is what I believe they told the president,” Mr. Ryan said, referring to Republican leaders. He added that “nobody wants to play around with the country’s credit rating.”

“Nobody wants to see defaults happening,” he said, “but we also think it’s important to get a handle on future borrowing as we deal with raising the debt limit.”

The administration says the legal debt limit, now just over $14 trillion, will be reached next month. Many economists have warned that if the ceiling is not raised, the United States will soon begin to default on its debt, and that could set off an international financial crisis.

The vote over raising the debt ceiling is the second major showdown over budgetary and financial matters between the White House and the Republican-controlled House in recent weeks. A government shutdown was narrowly averted when negotiators worked out a deal that included billions of dollars in spending cuts for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. Mr. Obama signed that legislation on Friday, just in time for the next battle.

Republicans, prompted by Tea Party supporters who helped fuel their electoral victory in the 2010 midterm elections, have been pushing for greater leverage to cut spending further, and the debt ceiling vote has been looming for months as one of their most potent weapons.

Yet it is not clear how much of an appetite there is among Republicans for a showdown on the debt ceiling. Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican elected last year as a Tea Party favorite, said Sunday that he was not necessarily opposed to raising the debt ceiling. When asked on the CNN program “State of the Union” whether he would vote on a bill to raise the limit, even without other provisions attached to the legislation, Mr. Paul answered indirectly.

“I don’t think it should be an either-or situation, you know,” he said. “There is another alternative, and that is that we send the message to the president through legislation that says: ‘You know what, Mr. President? Don’t default, but pay the interest out of the revenue.’ ”

Mr. Obama acknowledged Friday in an interview with The Associated Press that he would have to agree to Republican demands for more spending cuts to win their backing for a higher debt limit.

On Sunday, Mr. Geithner gave a slightly more detailed answer, saying it would be difficult to try to push both the spending cuts and the debt ceiling through Congress simultaneously.

“I think you can do these things in parallel,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “But if by the time we need to raise the debt limit, we haven’t worked all that out, Congress still has to raise the debt limit. And again, leadership realized that.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=2ed1b03cf97ea34cae423b09f0238d02