Support for more accountable policing at the state and federal level. Historic drug pricing reforms. Expanded delivery methods for contraception in several states.
2022 saw many big wins across the issues where AV works, with impactful — and often bipartisan — reforms that will help to maximize opportunity and minimize injustice for all Americans.
In criminal justice, voters demonstrated that efforts to improve the system while maintaining public safety remain popular, despite the tough-on-crime rhetoric that was a hallmark of many campaigns in the midterm elections. Lawmakers also worked across the aisle to eliminate the harmful collection of fines and fees from youth and their families, and lawmakers in California, Oklahoma, and Colorado passed “clean slate” laws to help reduce the long-term economic and social impacts of incarceration on individuals, families, and communities.
In higher education, the College Transparency Act is gaining traction — it passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support and would bring together already available student-level data to create useful information on school programs for students, families, and employers.
Several states passed laws in 2022 to expand access to contraception by allowing pharmacists to prescribe oral hormonal birth control, and 10 more states have active legislation to do the same.
And in democracy, support for ranked-choice voting is growing. Eight localities voted in 2022 to adopt RCV — the fastest growing nonpartisan election reform in the country — and Alaskans used it for the first time to elect a conservative Republican governor, a moderate Republican senator, a moderate Democratic congresswoman and a cross-partisan majority in the state legislature.
In the stories below, we've rounded up these and other bright spots from 2022, as well as the the stories of change we covered this year. Stay tuned: In the weeks ahead we will be looking at big wins in health care policy in 2022; the reform landscape of the coming year; and grantees to watch in 2023.
The Abstract will be back in January. Thank you for subscribing and reading and for supporting the work of Arnold Ventures. We wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy new year.
Don’t Get Mad About Gun Violence — Get to Researching
By Evan Mintz, director of communications
If policymakers hope to save lives from gun violence, then the United States needs to invest in researching and collecting data about firearm use and injuries, Arnold Ventures Director of Criminal Justice Asheley Van Ness writes in the Houston Chronicle.
What’s Happening: The Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote an editorial comparing gun violence to drunk driving and called for a political movement similar to Mothers Against Drunk Driving to take on the issue. While the comparison has merit, Van Ness wrote in response, the federal government has failed to treat both the same way.
“The federal government has spent decades supporting research into the automotive policies that can save lives, from seatbelt mandates to drunk driving laws and proper road design,” Van Ness writes. “In fact, the U.S. spends roughly $1,000 per motor vehicle death studying ways to make our streets safer. In comparison, we only spend $63 per firearm death studying ways to save lives from gun violence.”
Why it Matters: Research and data are necessary to help us understand what policies are effective at stemming the bloodshed of gun violence.
“Change starts with adequate funding for research, or else policymakers may end up spending time and money on programs that simply don’t work,” Van Ness writes.
What’s Next: A study supported by Arnold Ventures and the Joyce Foundation found that it will cost $600 million over five years to build out the necessary data infrastructure and answer the most pressing policy questions about effective gun policy in the United States.
Related: This week marked the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, an unprecedented tragedy that sparked the modern day movement for gun safety. The New Republic lists the policy wins since that time. And The New York Times offers 12 achingly beautiful profiles of children killed this year by gun violence, which is the leading cause of death for American kids.
A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that some of the nation's largest health systems have done quite well financially during the pandemic. The report looked at the three largest for-profit hospital systems, finding all had positive operating margins that exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The report dropped as Congress considers additional support for hospitals ahead of the deadline to fund the federal government, which was extended to next week.
Why it Matters: The hospital industry is asking for fiscal relief and to delay a scheduled 4% cut to Medicare federal reimbursement rates for hospitals. Stakeholders like the American Hospital Association have been painting a Dickensian picture, with talk of hospitals’ systemic collapse. But it’s worth noting that the impact of the pandemic and broader economic trends have had a varied impact across the industry.
Medicare provides health insurance for people over 65 as well as some younger people with disabilities. The federal program reimburses hospitals for services its beneficiaries utilize at rates the federal government sets. But for privately insured patients, the prices paid to hospitals are on average more than twice the Medicare rate, ballooning the cost of commercial health insurance.
What’s Next: We spend more per capita on health care in the U.S. than any other high-income country, and the economic consequences for Americans are dire. High and rising health care costs are linked to ruinous medical debt, skyrocketing private insurance premiums, and wage stagnation. The high prices hospitals charge private insurance companies are driving much of the increase.
As Congress considers additional health care spending, the KFF report helps bring the nuance required to inform policymakers about the financial position of the hospital industry.
What’s Happening: In 2020, New York’s new bail reform law went into effect by eliminating bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. The intent of the law was to reduce the use of pretrial detention, limit the role of money in the pretrial process, shrink racial disparities, and maintain community safety. These findings highlight how the law has moved toward these goals — and how much work remains.
Why it Matters: New York’s bail law sparked a public debate about the impact of reform on community safety, but less has been said about whether the explicit goals of reform have been achieved or not. This report refocuses attention on those original goals.
What’s Next: The Data Collaborative for Justice results can help guide state legislators and local practitioners working to improve the law and its application across New York.
“With this report, we sought to examine how the reform is faring on three of its many goals: reducing the use of bail, making it more affordable, and curtailing racial disparities,” said Data Collaborative for Justice Director Michael Rempel. ”Perhaps unsurprisingly, our results point to a mix of both successes and shortcomings. We hope this and other research can aid policymakers seeking to improve future implementation.”
In The New York Times, Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff of Yale University tackles misconceptions about the root causes of violence — and the solutions.
The Community Violence Intervention Collaborative — a White House initiative supported by Arnold Ventures and other philanthropies — is being touted as an overlooked success in preventing violence, Politico reports. But rigorous assessments of the program's impacts are still years away.
MDRC issued a report evaluating the Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS) program that focuses on the experiences of students ages 25 and older, explaining how the program supported them in their educational endeavors.
Despite a scramble to save the school, Cazenovia College plans to close in 2023, reports Syracuse.com. AV Higher Education Fellow Clare McCann foresees a similar possibility for small schools with declining enrollments.
Higher Ed Dive reports on the bill three senators introduced to provide oversight of for-profit colleges. One of the mechanisms of oversight would include publishing a public list of colleges that have conducted illegal activities or engaged in fraudulent practices.
"The road to this moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice – you never gave up," President Biden said as he signed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages.
We're Seeking Proposals
The Higher Education and Evidence-Based Policy teams have created a request for proposals for rigorous impact evaluations of programs and practices (“interventions”) to promote college success in the United States.
Have an evidence-based week and a safe and happy new year,
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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