Federal Requirements on Private Health Insurance Plans

Federal Requirements on Private Health Insurance Plans. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Annie L. Mach, Bernadette Fernandez. May 1, 2018

 A majority of Americans have health insurance from the private health insurance (PHI) market. Health plans sold in the PHI market must comply with requirements at both the state and federal levels; such requirements often are referred to as market reforms.  The first part of this report provides background information about health plans sold in the PHI market and briefly describes state and federal regulation of private plans. The second part summarizes selected federal requirements and indicates each requirement’s applicability to one or more of the following types of private health plans: individual, small group, large group, and self-insured. The selected market reforms are grouped under the following categories: obtaining coverage, keeping coverage, developing health insurance premiums, covered services, cost-sharing limits, consumer assistance and other patient protections, and plan requirements related to health care providers. Many of the federal requirements described in this report were established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; P.L. 111-148, as amended); however, some were established under federal laws enacted prior to the ACA.

 [PDF format, 26 pages].


Family Residential Instability: What Can States and Localities Do?

Family Residential Instability: What Can States and Localities Do? Urban Institute. Brett Theodos, Sara McTarnaghan, Claudia J. Coulton. May 3, 2018

 Residential instability can disrupt employment, finances, health, education, social networks, and more. And yet, too little policy attention has been devoted to the issue. States and localities have critical roles to play in creating integrated solutions to a complex challenge, but to date, their strategies have largely been confined to specific sectors and institutions, when more cross-cutting and holistic approaches are needed. This brief details steps that states and localities can take in several areas, including affordable housing, education, law, health, and human services, to minimize the occurrence or mitigate the consequences of residential instability. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 24 pages].

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children

Fatherhood Initiatives: Connecting Fathers to Their Children.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jessica Tollestrup. May 1, 2018

 Longstanding research indicates that children raised in one-parent homes are more likely than children raised in homes with both biological parents to do poorly in school, have emotional and behavioral problems, become teenage parents, and have poverty-level incomes as adults. In an effort to improve the long-term outlook for children in one-parent homes, federal, state, and local governments, along with public and private organizations, have supported programs and activities that promote the financial and personal responsibility of noncustodial parents to their children and reduce the incidence of parental absence in the lives of children. Fatherhood initiatives include campaigns that seek to encourage noncustodial parents to connect with their children; counseling and training on “soft skills,” including relationship skills, to help noncustodial parents connect with them; and employment and training services so that they can help financially support them.

 [PDF format, 31 pages].

Reconsidering Americans’ Overestimates of Government Waste and Foreign Aid

Reconsidering Americans’ Overestimates of Government Waste and Foreign Aid. Urban Institute. Vanessa Williamson. March 30, 2018

 Widespread and profound public misinformation about government presents a serious challenge to democratic accountability. This paper demonstrates that two of the most common examples of public misperception may be systematically overestimated; public misperceptions of “foreign aid” spending and “government waste” are in substantial part explained by differences of elite and popular terminology. Failure to take into account what members of the public mean by waste and foreign aid has led researchers, journalists and public officials to misunderstand meaningful public critiques of U.S. policy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 4 pages].

Vulnerable Youth: Federal Mentoring Programs and Issues

Vulnerable Youth: Federal Mentoring Programs and Issues.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara. February 23, 2018

 Youth mentoring refers to a relationship between youth—particularly those most at risk of experiencing negative outcomes in adolescence and adulthood—and the adults who support and guide them. The origin of the modern youth mentoring concept is credited to the efforts of charity groups that formed during the Progressive era of the early 1900s to provide practical assistance to poor and juvenile justice-involved youth, including help with finding employment.

Approximately 4.5 million youth today are involved in formal mentoring relationships through organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America. Contemporary mentoring programs seek to improve outcomes and reduce risks among vulnerable youth by providing positive role models who regularly meet with the youth in community or school settings. Some programs have broad youth development goals, while others focus more narrowly on a particular outcome. Evaluations of the BBBS program and studies of other mentoring programs demonstrate an association between mentoring and some positive outcomes, but the impact of mentoring and the ability for mentored youth to sustain gains over time are less certain.

 [PDF format, 21 pages].

The National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Elayne J. Heisler. March 9, 2018

 The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provides scholarships and loan repayments to health care providers in exchange for a period of service in a health professional shortage area (HPSA). The program places clinicians at facilities—generally not-for-profit or government-operated— that might otherwise have difficulties recruiting and retaining providers.  The NHSC is administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Congress created the NHSC in the Emergency Health Personnel Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-623), and its programs have been reauthorized and amended several times since then.

 [PDF format, 19 pages].

Adoption Tax Benefits: An Overview

Adoption Tax Benefits: An Overview. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Margot L. Crandall-Hollick. March 13, 2018

 The federal government supports adoption in two primary ways: federal grants to state governments and tax benefits for individual taxpayers that help offset the costs of adopting a child. This report focuses on federal adoption tax benefits, which consist of an adoption tax credit and an income tax exclusion for employer-provided adoption assistance. The adoption tax credit helps qualifying taxpayers offset some of the costs of adopting a child. Although the credit may be claimed for nearly all types of adoptions (excluding the adoption of a spouse’s child), there are some special rules related to claiming the credit for intercountry adoptions and for adoption of children with special needs (generally children whom the State child welfare agency considers difficult to place for adoption).

 [PDF format, 28 pages].