Think Tank Round-Up: 30 Percent Edition.

Today's TTR debunks misinformation about health care reform, looks at state-of-the-art epidemiology tactics, presents some surprising facts about small business in the U.S., examines how the financial crisis affected "middle-income" countries, and finds some depressing connections between reproductive health and chemical exposure. We're also welcoming another new intern, Pema Levy, to our fall class.

  • There is no government health care takeover. [PDF] Today, the Urban Institute addressed claims that health care reform would result in a "government takeover" or "socialized" medicine. “Rather than expand government’s role …current proposals leave the practice of medicine firmly in private hands,” the study affirmed. At a time when passions over the future of health care are running high, the study cautions us to form our own opinions, but not our own facts. The study debunks conservatives’ warnings of a government take-over by confirming that proposed reforms are non-radical uses of competition and regulation to expand and improve coverage. -- PL
  • Modeling the spread of disease. Joshua Epstein, director of the Center on Social and Economic Dynamics, discusses how computer models can help scientists better understand the spread of diseases with the Brookings Institute. He predicts a 30 percent infection rate of the H1N1 flu virus this fall and winter, an extremely high number -- “tens of millions of cases worldwide” to be exact. With these models, policy makers are armed with a better idea of where the disease will be most severe, knowledge Epstein hopes will quell the rapid spread and mutation of the disease. -- JL
  • Entrepreneurs for health care. The Center for Economic and Policy Research presents surprising findings on the undersized U.S. small business sector. According to recent OECD data, the United States has the second lowest share of self-employment among 21 developed countries, ahead of only Luxembourg. When analyzed by industry, such as manufacturing, computer-related services, and research and development, the United States consistently ranks as having a very low proportion of employment in the small business sector in comparison to other rich countries. One plausible explanation for this is the high cost of health care for small businesses in the U.S., which is one of the motivations behind the president's push for health care reform. -- LL
  • Financial Crisis for the Middle. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Alejandro Foxley argues that middle income countries (those neither fully developed nor undeveloped countries) have been hit the hardest by the global financial crisis. Countries in Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe that saw substantial growth earlier in the decade are now at an impasse. As crucial members of the world economy, it is essential that these countries learn from the crisis to gain footing internationally or merely stay afloat. -- JL
  • Reproductive Roulette.The Center for American Progress released a study connecting the decline in reproductive health to increasing chemical exposure. Chemicals in commercial products, from pesticides to plastics, have increased 30 percent since 1979 while instances of infertility, premature births and defects have also risen steadily. Social inequity is a part of the equation: increased exposure and poor health care cause much higher rates of reproductive problems for African Americans. CAP suggests political solutions, noting that Congress seems ready to increase regulation of dangerous chemicals: In 2008, Congress took action after serious contamination of Chinese-made toys. -- PL

-- TAP Staff

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