By SDUSD | December 14, 2011 |
By Susan Duerksen | November 30, 2011 |
Research shows more people uninsured in county, while outreach lags
As residents of San Diego County continue to lose health insurance, County officials could enhance their efforts to bring in federal funding newly available to increase coverage.
The Center on Policy Initiatives is calling on the County Board to re-examine its approach to the federal Affordable Care Act, in light of new research findings:
- Employment-based insurance is declining, leaving an additional 27,000 San Diego County residents uninsured in 2010, and pushing many thousands more into public, taxpayer-funded programs such as Medi-Cal and Healthy Families, CPI reports in The Uninsured in San Diego County.
- San Diego County spends relatively little on the uninsured, compared to other major California counties, and is lagging on outreach and enrollment in preparation for the new federal funding, CPI found in Improving Access to Health Coverage: San Diego County and Federal Health Reform.
“Counties are responsible for providing a healthcare safety net,” said Corinne Wilson, CPI research and policy lead. “The federal government is offering funding to strengthen those safety nets, and that gives the San Diego County Board an opportunity to benefit taxpayers as well as individuals who’ve fallen on hard times.”
As the Union-Tribune reported this week, the County has limited early enrollment in the new Low Income Health Program, instead transferring participants in from another program it opted to close. Because the closed program had broader eligibility standards, the change by the County will leave more people uninsured in the future.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, which will be fully implemented by 2014, an estimated 203,000 more county residents could be eligible for Medi-Cal and others qualify for additional public programs. However, decisions on eligibility standards and allocating matching funds are left up to county governments.
CPI urges San Diego County officials to gather input from a wide variety of community stakeholders on the best way to respond to the federal healthcare reform opportunities, for the good of community residents as well as healthcare providers such as hospitals and clinics.
As “Occupy Wall Street” protests continue in San Diego and other cities across the nation, it is important to bear in mind the real costs of Wall Street’s recklessness on our communities. Almost 50,000 homes have been foreclosed in the city of San Diego since the start of the mortgage financial crisis in 2008. And new data released last month by DataQuick suggest that this number is continuing to grow at an alarming rate. These foreclosures, as documented in a recent report from the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, have imposed significant and uncompensated costs on families and communities, well and above the financial losses faced by banks.
Much policy attention has been given to the impacts of this crisis on Wall Street – including mortgage lenders and investors in mortgage-backed securities who have received the lion’s share of federal bailouts. In that context, the financial and emotional losses to homeowners have often been minimized, if not justified, by narratives of fraud and irresponsibility. But when homes are lost to foreclosure, the entire community suffers: homeowners and their families, as well as neighbors, local governments, schools and businesses.
As foreclosed homes lose almost a fourth of their monetary value, surrounding properties follow suit, decimating home equity across neighborhoods. CPI and ACCE estimate that, in the past five years, almost $20 billion in property values have been lost in the city of San Diego alone. Because home equity is the major – if not the only – form of wealth held by average American families, this decline in property value has substantial negative effects on the resources available for retirement, education, medical care and other expenses.
Contrary to popular belief, renters are not shielded from these downward trends. When property values and expenditure decline, unemployment and underemployment increase, cutting across the entire population. In addition, as the tax base is eroded, local tax revenues decline, making it difficult for local governments to address mounting needs. Abandoned foreclosed properties alone impose significant costs to the city in the form of maintenance, inspections and public safety monitoring. Combined with the loss of property tax revenues, these costs add up to almost $1 billion. The resulting fiscal pressures challenge the ability of local government agencies to provide basic services like parks, libraries, fire and police.
Unlike financial institutions, cities and families have not been protected from the reckless decisions of mortgage companies, banks and investors. Policy change at the federal level is slow to come and has had practically no impact in the low-income and minority communities where foreclosures are concentrated and their impacts most severe. Today, the costs associated with predatory lending and other reckless financial practices of Wall Street are being felt throughout the region. Financial institutions responsible for foreclosed properties must be held accountable. Our City Council can do its part to protect our communities by supporting the Property Value Protection Ordinance, which would require banks holding foreclosed properties to register the properties with the city, and puts in place fines that penalize those failing to register and maintain their properties.
This is a straightforward and pragmatic way of holding Wall Street accountable to our communities.
Joassart-Marcelli is an economic geographer at San Diego State University.
By | November 4, 2011 |
By | November 3, 2011 |
There’s reason to celebrate! So we threw a party. See pictures and videos from our 2011 Gala here →.
100s of San Diego workers organized this year to ensure their voices were heard. CPI honors them in this video, which debuted at the gala.
By | October 28, 2011 |
Marshall Ganz’s stirring video message to Carlos and Linda LeGerrette of Cesar Chavez Service Clubs. The couple were honored with the “Visionary Leadership” award at CPI’s 2011 Gala.
By Clare Crawford | October 10, 2011 |
Executive Director Clare Crawford’s quote in KPBS story about recent updates to the data used in our Making Ends Meet report. A San Diego family of 3 now needs $63,000 to be self-sufficient. Read the article >
By Susan Duerksen | September 27, 2011 |
Unfortunately, San Diego’s City Council has decided to continue with an expensive and misguided process to contract out Miramar Landfill, without any hard data on the potential benefits or costs and despite many red flags.
Councilmembers David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Todd Gloria are to be commended for their serious consideration of the issue and their support for the public’s best interests.
More than 150 San Diego residents, including individuals and representatives of a wide variety of community groups, took time on a Monday to come to City Hall to express their concerns about the many risks in contracting out the landfill to a private operator.
Most Councilmembers stated before the vote that the landfill is extremely well-run now by city staff, and makes money for the city. As Councilmember Alvarez noted, there is no “real data” supporting the idea of handing over public control to a for-profit operator, and it could well mean “limitless costs to the city for decades to come.”
In studying the issue for more than a year, CPI has determined the risks far exceed potential gains from putting the landfill through the Mayor’s “managed competition” program.
The city cannot escape legal and financial liability for contractor malfeasance or negligence, which could mean lawsuits or fines from numerous regulatory agencies. The need for strong oversight of private contractors and subcontractors adds to taxpayers’ long-term costs.
Highlighting the risks of contracting out needed services to private companies, it was reported that the city has paid $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit by a software contractor it fired because of delays and cost overruns.
The first proclaimed success in San Diego’s “managed competition” program has stumbled right out of the gate. The handling of the relatively simple publishing department contract should raise red flags as City Council prepares to vote Monday on putting Miramar Landfill out to bid.
As other cities and states have learned, contracting out complicated vital services requires extreme attention to the details of those contracts.
But in the case of San Diego’s publishing services, the city’s business office accepted a bid that included use of a computer system the employee team believes to be more efficient — and now is requiring a different system.
If a private contractor had won the bid and the city tried this after-the-fact switch, taxpayers would face a big cost increase or perhaps a lawsuit.
The city’s business office wasn’t able to specify the work necessary to contract out publishing. A similar mistake on Miramar Landfill could have far more serious implications for San Diego taxpayers and our environment, public health and essential services.
San Diego’s only public landfill, Miramar is a complex venture that has been efficiently operated by city staff for 50 years, generating revenue and providing numerous services to all San Diegans. Every household in the city relies on it. Besides safely handling the 1 million tons of garbage we collectively produce each year, it provides community services ranging from neighborhood cleanups to recycling and free mulch.
Contracting out landfill operations is fraught with risk. It involves managing more than 80 subcontracts and complying with at least 23 regulatory agencies. If a private operator is able to cut corners — whether because of a poorly written contract or a lack of oversight — potential water and air contamination, escalating costs and reduced services are at stake. This contract would have to be precise to the last detail.
In 2006, voters empowered the city to use managed competition if it maintains service quality, protects the public’s interest and saves money. The mayor already spent more than $500,000 in taxpayer dollars to learn that privatizing the landfill is a bad idea.
Miramar Landfill is best left under public control. The City Council can protect the public’s interest by voting on Monday to reject the business office’s proposal to put it up for bid.