Editor's note: The Abstract will be back Dec. 16 for one final newsletter of the year.
Director of Communications Evan Mintz writes about a pivotal moment for research into gun violence:
More than a half-century ago, the federal government decided to confront the rising number of road deaths by pouring resources into researching and implementing automotive safety standards. Even though they seem commonsense today, these basic safety rules — such as seatbelt mandates — were controversial at the time.
Speaking this week on a panel of funders at the 2022 National Research Conference for Firearm Injury Prevention, AV President and CEO Kelli Rhee pointed to that moment in U.S. history as a model for firearm safety. Yes, the issue may be controversial today, but investment and research from the federal government is critical to saving lives from preventable deaths.
Around 600 people had registered for the three-day convening to present and discuss research into gun safety. Topics ranged from domestic violence protection orders to incorporating suicide prevention into concealed carry classes to the effects of tree canopies on firearm violence. Experts across different fields broke out of their silos to talk about the state of research — and imagine a safer future.
For more than 20 years, this kind of convening would have been nearly unimaginable due to the Dickey Amendment, which effectively banned federal funding for gun safety research. That is finally beginning to change. The federal government, along with private philanthropies, are opening new streams of support for gun safety research — working to identify effective policies that can save lives and expand the field of researchers who study the topic.
Like the rise of automotive safety in the 1960s and 1970s, the 2020s are turning out to be a pivotal moment for firearm safety.
Why it Matters: Our sentencing laws treat crack cocaine offenses 18 times more severely than those for powder cocaine, but there is no scientific proof supporting discriminating between the two drugs. This disparity is a significant driver of mass incarceration in the U.S. and disproportionately affects under-resourced communities and people of color.
What’s Next: The Senate has until the end of the current session to pass the bill, which was already approved by the House, or else they’ll have to start over. If enacted, it would not only change the law going forward, but also retroactively, freeing Americans currently held behind bars on an unjust — and unscientific — discrepancy between powder and crack cocaine.
It happened somewhere after the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster debacle and just before turkeys hit the ovens — you likely missed it. So we are tipping our hats to it here: A bipartisan group of senators have come together to launch an effort to improve care for the more than 12 million people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
Why it Matters: Navigating one health insurance program is hard enough, but people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid — or their caregivers — must navigate two programs never built to work together, all while managing multiple chronic and complex conditions. Evidence shows that integrating Medicare and Medicaid can go a long way toward providing a better experience for patients and reducing spending on high-cost settings of care.
What’s Next: It’s a big deal that this bipartisan group of influential lawmakers — Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Mark Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — is scoping solutions, says Arielle Mir, vice president of health care at AV. “We are thrilled to see continued Congressional interest on this issue.”
Securing a Basic Promise
for Students and Veterans
By Torie Ludwin, communications manager
If you want to know why students need protection from predatory schools, just read the stories of Jennifer Wilson, above, who borrowed $40,000 for a worthless degree from Everest University, or veteran Kendrick Harrison, who lost his home when Argosy University took his G.I. Bill money and then closed. Now, some of those protections are finally on the way.
What's Happening: This fall, the U.S. Department of Education finalized rules on borrower defense to repayment and on the 90-10 rule, both of which will help student borrowers harmed by unscrupulous programs. Borrower defense gives students relief from federal loans when their schools or programs have misled them with false claims or fraudulent acts. The 90-10 rule makes sure that schools and programs must get at least 10% of their revenue from a source other than federal education funds; the veteran education aid in the G.I. Bill is now included as federal education aid. (In the past it was not, and this loophole was exploited by predatory schools.)
Why it Matters: “These regulations are the result of years of advocacy and litigation on behalf of cheated borrowers to secure a basic promise Congress made in the Higher Education Act: If your school cheats you, you are not on the hook for that loan,” said AV Vice President of Higher Education Kelly McManus in her statement about finalized regulations for targeted debt relief programs. “These final regulations will also ensure borrowers whose colleges closed before they could graduate, borrowers who are totally and permanently disabled, and others will have access to the targeted debt relief benefits Congress established years ago.”
What's Next: The final stages of negotiated rulemaking, called the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), is expected to happen in April for the Gainful Employment rule and several other accountability measures. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education is considering another round of rulemaking for 2023.
A new report by the Center for Health Care Strategies provides promising early results — and a roadmap — for states to develop a smarter way to pay physicians who treat Medicaid beneficiaries, with arrangements called population-based payment models.
Why it Matters: Currently, the predominant way of reimbursing doctors and hospitals is called the “fee-for-service” payment system. The problem is that these payment structures incentivize physicians to deliver more and higher-priced care, even if there is a risk of harm to the patient or when services have no benefit. Population-based payment models, on the other hand, encourage doctors to keep patients well rather than rewarding them financially for the volume of services provided.
What’s Next: Learn more in a webinar Dec. 6 from 2-3 p.m. EST that will highlight key findings from the report alongside a discussion among Medicaid officials from Colorado, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania on the frontlines of redesigning care. You can register here.
What We're Reading
This longform piece from AV grantee The Trace delves into the life and death of Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York. The city was poised for genuine police reform before the 911 call about his crisis came in.
Recent judicial rulings and policy decisions concerning gun regulations are making both communities and police officers less safe, argue Michael Harrison, commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, and Walter Katz, vice president of criminal justice at AV on NBCNews.com.
Related: In the The Wall Street Journal, Abt introduces the new center and talks about how an evidence-based, pragmatic, and bipartisan approach to criminal justice reform can reduce mass incarceration while saving lives.
The John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety looks at pretrial outcomes in the state’s town and village Justice Courts during the period before bail reform took effect. It's part of a series of reports supported by AV that will evaluate the impact of bail reform in New York.
The California Policy Lab takes a deep dive on the use of electronic monitoring (EM) pretrial, which has increased significantly in San Francisco since 2018 in an effort to reduce the number of people jailed ahead of trial. Due in part to increased use of EM and the changing nature of who is being monitored, the number of people who completed the monitoring cycle fell to 31% in 2021 from 50% in 2018. The California Policy Lab makes recommendations on how to improve the program.
The story of Adnan Syed, whose conviction was recently vacated by a Maryland judge, illustrates why taking a second look at convictions may help many others who are serving extreme sentences, write AV grantees at the Second Look Project, Cecelia Bruni and Destiny Fullwood-Singh, in this op-ed in The Inquest.
Vera Institute's report “The Social Costs of Policing” challenges the assumption that policing is a cost-effective practice and examines the holistic costs of relying on policing as a primary provider of public safety. Check out the fact sheet here.
Drug companies abuse the patent system, and patients pay the price, AV grantee Priti Krishtel tells MedPage Today.
Merged hospitals don’t have to be in the same state to drive up prices, accordingto new research from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health and UC Hastings Law.
Evidence and partnership with expertise are major assets as health plans weigh operational challenges pertaining to the care of people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, according to a new piece in Health Affairs. Another new analysis suggests integrated care programs hold promise for people who are dually eligible in terms of reducing hospitalizations and institutionalizations.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the legality of President Biden’s student debt relief program in 2023; in the meantime, it will keep the forgiveness plan on hold, reports CNBC.
A federal judge denied Walden University’s motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of former students by Student Defense and Relman Colfax PLCC. In the ruling, a court expressly allowed “reverse redlining” claims under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to be considered on the merits in a higher education case.
USA Today reports that to address the gap in learning from the pandemic, the University of Chicago Education Lab will lead a research project in partnership with MDRC on intensive, small-group tutoring.Accelerate — with support from Arnold Ventures; Kenneth C. Griffin, founder and chief executive officer of Citadel; the Overdeck Family Foundation; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — is the lead funder for the study.
Several members of Congress signed a letter to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to demand that organ procurement organizations (OPOs) be held to higher standards and that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) does not maintain a monopoly over the country's organ transplantation services.
Matthew Germer comments in The Dispatch that final-four voting in Alaska has already been “making good on its promise to create a healthier political culture.”
In Reason, Eric Boehm champions ranked-choice voting, explaining how and why it worked in Alaska and arguing that partisan critiques of the system amount to sour grapes: “… the one thing that absolutely should not happen is judging the merits of different systems based on which party wins. And if Republicans are unhappy about this outcome, then maybe they should run better candidates next time.”
In a win for bipartisan work, the Anchorage Daily News reports that all nine Democrats and eight of the 11 Republicans elected to the Alaska State Senate are forming a bipartisan majority coalition, leaving the three rightwing Republicans in the minority.
There is strong bipartisan support — 73% overall and 70% of conservatives — for both parties working together in 2022 “on immigration reforms that strengthen border security, allow immigrants brought to the United States as children to earn citizenship, and ensure a legal, reliable workforce for America’s farmers and ranchers,” according to polling of 1,000 registered voters by the National Immigration Forum.
“It’s almost impossible to ever get an American citizen to come work on a dairy farm,” said Steve Obert, executive director of Indiana Dairy Producers, to the The Wall Street Journal. Lawmakers and advocates are working to pass an overhaul of the farmworker visa program through Congress before the GOP takes control of the House in 2023.
What We're Watching
"Art & Krimes by Krimes," an award-winning documentary about artist Jesse Krimes, who secretly created a massive body of work while incarcerated, including the monumental “Apokaluptein:16389067,” a 40-foot mural made with bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper and named after his prison number. Piece by piece, his art had to be smuggled out — it was considered contraband. Directed Alysa Nahmias, the film recounts Krimes' difficult childhood, the events leading to his incarceration, and the challenges Krimes faced navigating a dangerous prison environment and an unforgiving world post-release. It is streaming on Paramount+.
Stephanie DiCapua Getman develops and executes Arnold Ventures' digital communications strategy with a focus on multimedia storytelling and audience engagement and oversees daily editorial operations and design.
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