Caregiving costs

A study issued June 25 by the AARP Public Policy Institute estimates the value of unpaid caregiving by family and friends at $350 billion nationally and $1.25 billion in Hawaii. Both the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star Bulletin reported on the study.

While $350 billion is attributed to actual caregiving, the report also cites other costs:
  • Out-of-pocket costs (groceries, medicines, other cash support)
  • Lost wages and retirement income (adverse effects on job security, career paths, employment benefits, and Social Security and pensions)
  • Lost productivity (losses to businesses include absenteeism, workday interruptions, unpaid leave, reductions in hours from full-time to part-time)
  • Health effects and associated costs (caregivers putting their own health at risk is a growing public health concern)

Valuing the Invaluable: The Economic Value of Family Caregiving (Issue Brief, pdf, 12pp/528kB)

Valuing the Invaluable: A New Look at State Estimates of the Economic Value of Family Caregiving (Data Digest, pdf, 8pp/576kB)

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Good-bye, trash

Yesterday both Honolulu dailies, the Advertiser and the Star Bulletin, published articles on the city's plans to send its trash to the mainland beginning in early 2008. The Advertiser cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (pdf) upholding "flow control" ordinances that would support Honolulu's plans. (Today the Advertiser reported briefly on Oahu's limited landfill options.)

For a national overview, last week the Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report on interstate shipment of solid waste (the data being generally from 2005). According to CRS, the largest waste importer is Pennsylvania, receiving over 7.9 million tons, most of it from New York and New Jersey; NY and NJ are the largest exporters. For Oahu's waste, the Advertiser reported that three companies are considering shipping trash to Washington or Oregon. In the CRS report, Oregon imported over 1.7 million tons and Washington over 147,000 tons of waste, both as of 2005.

Interstate Shipment of Municipal Solid Waste: 2007 Update, CRS Report RL34043 (pdf, 30pp/260kB, from Open CRS), June 13, 2007

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Federal R&D

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) each recently issued a report relating to federally funded research and development. The CBO report looks at federal support generally for R&D, while the GAO report analyzes the dissemination of research from three agencies.

According to the CBO report, in FY2007 $137 billion was budgeted for federal R&D, and tax preferences have provided incentives for R&D in the private sector. The report reviews trends in federal R&D support, assesses the government's role in R&D, evaluates the results of federal R&D funding, and looks at tax preferences for R&D.

In light of concerns that some researchers are being restricted from sharing their findings on controversial topics, the GAO report examines the policies for dissemination of research of three agencies: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Dissemination occurs through such avenues as publications, presentations, press releases, and media interviews, the latter two being more problematic. GAO recommends clarifying media policies, ensuring an appeals process for dissemination decisions, and providing training for those policies.

Federal Support for Research and Development (pdf, 42pp/824kB, from CBO), June 2007

FEDERAL RESEARCH: Policies Guiding the Dissemination of Scientific Research from Selected Agencies Should Be Clarified and Better Communicated, GAO-07-653 (pdf, 102pp/2.93MB, from GAO), May 17, 2007 (released June 18, 2007)

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Boomers become pre-seniors

In reporting on a study from the Brookings Institution on the demographics of the impending "senior tsunami," the New York Times focused on one of the study's findings, the effect of the aging population on the nation's suburbs. It quoted the author, William H. Frey: "Suburbs, which previously were considered youthful and family-friendly parts of America, will, as more seniors age in place, become a fast-graying part of our national landscape."

Other findings:
  • Aging boomers make pre-seniors (ages 55-64) this decade's fastest-growing age group
  • Pre-seniors are increasing rapidly everywhere, esp. in economically dynamic Sun Belt areas such as Las Vegas, Austin, Atlanta, and Dallas
  • Seniors (ages 65+) are growing fastest in the Intermountain West and South Atlantic states
  • In states where senior populations will grow fastest, "aging in place" rather than migration will drive this growth
A capsule conclusion:
Today's seniors and pre-seniors are upending traditional notions of how and where Americans spend their later years. The rise of boomer populations in suburban and Sun Belt locations will create new demand for senior-oriented housing and amenities. As older populations age in place, however--especially in the suburbs of slower-growing metropolitan areas--public policies must respond to the new stresses they will exert on health, transportation, and social-support systems.

Mapping the Growth of Older America (pdf, 28pp/1MB)

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Recent GAO reports

INTERNET ACCESS TAX MORATORIUM: Revenue Impacts Will Vary by State GAO-07-896T (pdf, 28pp/624kB), May 23, 2007

In 1998, Congress passed the Internet Tax Freedom Act (P.L. 105-277, Title XI, 112 Stat. 2681-719 et seq.), temporarily barring taxes by state and local governments on Internet access. GAO testified, "Because it is difficult to know what states would have done to tax Internet access services if no moratorium had existed, the total revenue implications of the moratorium are unclear." Bills have been introduced in Congress this year to make the moratorium permanent.

PEDIATRIC DRUG RESEARCH: The Study and Labeling of Drugs for Pediatric Use under the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act GAO-07-898T (pdf, 18pp/296kB), May 22, 2007

According to GAO, two-thirds of drugs prescribed for children have not been studied for pediatric use. Under the 2002 Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA), if manufacturers of drugs that are still on-patent (have marketing exclusivity) conduct pediatric studies at the requst of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FDA may extend the exclusivity period (no equivalent generic drugs to be marketed) for 6 months. GAO presents testimony on the drug studies conducted under BPCA for on-patent and off-patent drugs, and the impact of BPCA on the labeling of pediatric drugs.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Preliminary Analysis of Changes to and Trends in FTA's New Starts and Small Starts Programs GAO-07-812T (pdf, 30pp/496kB), May 10, 2007

In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was signed into law. It authorized the New Starts program in which the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recommends funding for new fixed-guideway transit projects. New Starts spawned a separate program called Small Starts for smaller transit projects. GAO discusses changes in New Starts and future trends for New Starts and Small Starts.

TEACHER QUALITY: Approaches, Implementation, and Evaluation of Key Federal Efforts GAO-07-861T (pdf, 17pp/224kB), May 17, 2007

Title II of both the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) provided funds for professional development and recruitment. This testimony discusses activities under the two acts, how the Dept. of Education (Education) supports these activities, and how funds are being used.

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Legal Services Corporation

Since 1975, the private, non-profit, and federally funded Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has provided civil legal services to the poor. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently published a report on LSC's background and funding. LSC's primary responsibility is to oversee federal funds granted to local legal services providers, called LSC grantees. LSC grantees supplement LSC monies with other government and private funding, from such programs as the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), private foundations, and national, state, and local bar associations. In FY2007 Congress appropriated $348.6 million to LSC. In FY2006, Hawaii received approximately $1.46 million from LSC, 22% of a total $6.6 million in funds to serve low-income clients.

According to the report, under federal law LSC grantees may not engage in certain actions, such as those related to redistricting, abortion, assisted suicide, drug-related eviction proceedings, or reforming a federal or state welfare system.

In 2006, CRS reports, LSC funded 138 local programs with 3,600 attorneys, down from 320 local programs with 4,500 attorneys in 1994.

Legal Services Corporation: Background and Funding, CRS Report RL34016 (pdf, 14pp/112kB, from Open CRS), May 23, 2007

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