After one of the longest games of “Chicken” in U.S. financial history, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 (FRA) on a bipartisan basis, 314 to 117, to suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until 2025; late last night, the Senate voted 63-36 to send it to the White House for President Biden's signature.
While it’s possible to debate the merits and pitfalls of any large piece of legislation, one of the aspects that truly stands out about the bill is its bipartisanship. Despite the posturing and drama by some members of Congress, the majority came together to get the job done. We can’t help but think about Laura Arnold’s call for honest conversation and compromise a few weeks ago at the Women Challenging Washington event. We’d like to think the Hill took heed.
We’re hopeful that the rapprochement made these past few weeks to keep the country from the economic catastrophe just might continue or possibly even grow. We’d love to see issues with funding for Medicare, the IRS, and the Office of Federal Student Aid change – to keep the first one solvent and the latter two functioning at their best for taxpayers, students, and their families. Dare we dream? Well, as you may have figured out by now, at Arnold Ventures, we do a lot more than dream.
A Tribute to the Leader of the Band
(drawing by Arnold Ventures Advocacy Manager Destiny Carter of the Criminal Justice team)
By Thomas Hanna, communications manager
This week marks the end of an era at Arnold Ventures. After almost six years of building one of the largest and most dynamic criminal justice philanthropic programs in the United States, we say a fond goodbye to our Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice Jeremy Travis. Under Jeremy’s leadership, AV’s criminal justice program grew substantially, adding a number of new portfolios — including policing, reintegration, corrections, prosecution, public defense, and fines and fees — and adopting a new emphasis on policy development and advocacy.
Already a well-known leader in advancing evidence-based criminal justice reform when he joined AV in 2017, Jeremy helped instill in our organization and programming a deep commitment to structural change, racial justice, and community engagement and leadership.
Since announcing his plans to step down in November 2022, the team here at AV has spent many hours trading stories, anecdotes, and favorite expressions (“Jeremyisms,” as we like to call them), laughing and crying, and overall celebrating a person who has had a transformational impact not only on our organization, but also on all our lives. While we will be cheering Jeremy on in all his future endeavors, we will also miss him tremendously.
In an op-ed for NJ.com last week, Arnold Ventures Directors of Criminal Justice Cybele Kotonias and Rebecca Silber called for the state to fix its policy of charging fees for indigent defense.
What's Happening: The roughly 50,000 people each year who rely on New Jersey’s public defenders are charged a minimum fee of $150. That fee grows with the seriousness of the charges and the length of time services are needed. Gov. Phil Murphy's proposed budget would eliminate these fees entirely.
Why It Matters: This fee system leaves low-income individuals, innocent and guilty alike, on the hook for thousands of dollars they can't afford. Research also shows that these fees keep people entangled with the criminal justice system, often as part of the debt collection process.
What's Next: "We urge legislators to support this change in the final budget," Kotonias and Silber write. "Doing so would turn New Jersey into a model for the rest of the nation."
(Photo of Melissa, a person who is dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, from our photo essay by Isadora Kosofsky)
By Juliana Keeping, communications manager
AV’s Complex Care team believes in the potential of care integration to improve the care experience for the 12.5 million low-income older adults and people with disabilities enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
What’s Happening: As part of the team’s effort, AV grantee ATI Advisory conducted a series of focus groups to better understand the unique needs and experiences of individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and their caregivers. Findings were published in a brief this week.
Why It Matters: “Policies create the container for integrated programs,” said Arielle Mir, AV’s vice president for health care, who oversees strategic investments in initiatives to improve care for people with complex needs. “To make it worth it – to spend all the time on policy design, you want to make sure these integrated models address the pain points consumers face when trying to get care.”
What’s Next: As policymakers think through how to improve care for people who are dually enrolled, state Medicaid programs continue to implement arrangements aimed at better coordinating Medicare and Medicaid. The patient experience is a key element to improvement in the system.
The Trace reports on Minnesota officially becoming the 20th state to approve an extreme risk protection order law.
In a Washington Examiner op-ed, former Georgia Congressman Doug Collins defends the First Step Act from “puzzling and plain wrong” attacks on the campaign trail.
A new Colorado law will ensure state residents are notified in advance of unexpected facility fees and protect patients from facility fees for services like preventive care visits, Fox31 Denver reports.
In the Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin breaks down the effect of the debt ceiling deal on IRS modernization efforts.
Victoria Guida highlights a new paper in Politico that found “one-quarter of the 40-year growth in the yawning gap between higher-income workers and lower-income workers has disappeared” in the past few years, but warns that a recession could threaten gains made by low-wage workers.
AV grantee Ithaka S+R recently released a report on the six-year findings from an evaluation of the Monitoring Advising Analytics to Promote Success (MAAPS) program, a student success program involving intensive advising intervention for low-income and first-generation students at 11 public universities. The study found no statistically significant impact on college persistence or degree completion. A brief summary is available in addition to the full report.
Related: Approximately 80-90% of rigorous evaluations of social programs and practices show little to no meaningful impact on people’s lives. Read more about this challenge and our approach to addressing it.
In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Sen. Dick Durbin explains how the Gainful Employment rule can protect students from being “left worse off financially for having pursued higher education.”
The Alaska Legislature struck a healthy bipartisan compromise on its budget, which an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News attributes to the state’s system of ranked-choice voting.
What We're Watching
AV grantee Zealous has partnered with Teen Vogue and Truthout to produce a video on the concept of restorative justice and how it “offers a path forward for healing, accountability, health, and safety.”
If you’re at the Aspen Ideas Festival June 24-30, be sure to see Arnold Ventures' Executive Vice President of Health Care Mark E. Miller at his talk on philanthropy’s impact on health, health care, and health policy.
Some Final Inspiration
The work of San Diego dog grooming artist Gabriel Feitosa is wild, wonderful, and also completely nontoxic.
The Pretrial Justice team has released a request for proposals that will help inform and advance the field’s collective understanding of the policies and practices related to pretrial release decisions, pretrial release conditions, and pretrial services.
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.
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