Mark Trahant: Health care system tied to economy
"There is much talk about the recession reaching bottom. The economy at a turning point. Again. The proof, at least this time, was the drop in the national unemployment rate to 10 percent.

But that data point doesn’t really reflect the jobs picture in this country. Here are two better ones: State unemployment funds are running out of money; and 9.24 million people are working part time (slightly down from a month ago) who would much rather go full time job. A year ago the figure was 7.3 million.

Both of these numbers have huge implications for the health care reform debate. Too many people are working part time, without benefits, because it’s the only job they can find.

Mike Sherlock, an investment advisor, publishes a fascinating blog called MISH'S Global Economic Trend Analysis. He reports: “15 states have collectively borrowed more than $15 billion and another 9 states are in the red over unemployment benefits.” One the examples Mish cites is North Carolina North Carolina where high unemployment has cost the state $1.4 billion in debt, growing as much as $20 million a day. The state is hoping the federal government at some point will forgive these loans because there’s no real plan to pay it back.

“Let's do the math. The state budget is $19 billion. Potentially $4 billion will be borrowed to pay unemployment benefits. In other words the state is borrowing an amount equal to 21% of its total budget just to pay unemployment benefits. Wow,” Mish reports.

That’s only one state of the 24 now in the red. Add to that the state projections for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance and the picture is more complete. And bleak.

Consider those who are working part time. If the economy is improving, folks should start getting more hours on the job (hopefully enough hours to quality for benefits). But that will happen before new jobs are created. We have a long way to go."

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Indian Country & health care reform (Mark Trahant 12/7)

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