Henry Watson

The Impact of Welfare Policy Shifts on Poverty and Work Rates

The purpose of this analysis is to examine the impact of two aspects of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policy: sanctions for noncompliance with work requirements, and the magnitude of the welfare benefit. The current debate questions whether welfare benefits reduce employment among their recipients, and whether strict work requirements for these programs are necessary. Over the last decade, several states made significant changes to their TANF rules. This study examines Colorado, which significantly increased its maximum benefits over the span of one year, as well as Kansas, which strengthened its work requirements and sanctions. Synthetic controls and difference-in-differences estimation take advantage of sudden policy changes in individual states, using them to create natural experiments. This analysis suggests that increasing welfare benefits reduces poverty but also reduces work participation, while increased sanctions appear to have no effect on poverty rates and an unclear effect on work participation.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: An Analysis of Options

This policy memo evaluates several policy options which would strengthen and improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA), without dismantling it. The key problem is that the cost of health insurance has risen dramatically for consumers who rely on the Affordable Insurance Exchanges, while private insurers leave the marketplace. Costs are set to rise by an average of 25% in 2017. Currently, political momentum is in favor of a repeal of the ACA, which would have serious consequences. However, the following options could fix the problems currently associated with the ACA (a general public health insurance option, an expansion of Medicaid and Medicare, Reinsurance and Risk Corridor programs, and increasing the individual mandate tax penalty) without carrying out a harmful repeal. The general public option is ultimately recommended as the most effective way to control the cost of insurance on the Exchanges while keeping government costs at a manageable level and not reducing the insurance rate.