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Only 251 Hospitals Score Five Stars In Medicare’s New Ratings

May 29, 2015 Comments off

Only 251 Hospitals Score Five Stars In Medicare’s New Ratings
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

In an effort to make comparing hospitals more like shopping for refrigerators and restaurants, the federal government has awarded its first star ratings to hospitals based on patients’ appraisals.

Many of the nation’s leading hospitals received middling ratings, while comparatively obscure local hospitals and others that specialized in lucrative surgeries frequently received the most stars.

Evaluating hospitals is becoming increasingly important as more insurance plans offer patients limited choices. Medicare already uses stars to rate nursing homes, dialysis centers and private Medicare Advantage insurance plans. While Medicare publishes more than 100 quality measures about hospitals on its Hospital Compare website, many are hard to decipher, and there is little evidence consumers use the site very much.

Many in the hospital industry fear Medicare’s five-star scale won’t accurately reflect quality and may place too much weight on patient reviews, which are just one measurement of hospital quality. Medicare also reports the results of hospital care, such as how many died or got infections during their stay, but those are not yet assigned stars.

The Social Progress Index: A holistic measure of progress

May 28, 2015 Comments off

The Social Progress Index: A holistic measure of progress
Source: Deloitte

On 9 April, the 2015 Social Progress Index launched – it measures the social and environmental outcomes for 133 countries, covering 94% of the world’s population.

As a complement to economic measures such as GDP, the Social Progress Index provides a more holistic measure of country performance and helps to drive real and sustainable growth that is important for business and vital for building a prosperous society.

How did your country do?

Discount Rate (Risk-Free Rate and Market Risk Premium) Used for 41 Countries in 2015: A Survey

May 27, 2015 Comments off

Discount Rate (Risk-Free Rate and Market Risk Premium) Used for 41 Countries in 2015: A Survey
Source: Social Science Research Network

This paper contains the statistics of a survey about the Risk-Free Rate (RF) and of the Market Risk Premium (MRP) used in 2015 for 41 countries. We got answers for 68 countries, but we only report the results for 41 countries with more than 25 answers.

The average (RF) used in 2015 was smaller than the one used in 2013 in 26 countries (in 11 of them the difference was more than 1%). In 8 countries the average (RF) used in 2015 was more than a 1% higher than the one used in 2013.

The change between 2013 and 2015 of the average Market risk premium used was higher than 1% for 13 countries. Most of the respondents use for US, Europe and UK a Risk-Free Rate (RF) higher than the yield of the 10-year Government bonds.

The High Burden of State and Federal Capital Gains Tax Rates in the United States

May 22, 2015 Comments off

The High Burden of State and Federal Capital Gains Tax Rates in the United States
Source: Tax Foundation

Key Findings

  • The average combined federal, state, and local top marginal tax rate on long-term capital gains in the United States is 28.6 percent – 6th highest in the OECD.
  • This is more than 10 percentage points higher than the simple average across industrialized nations of 18.4 percent, and 5 percentage points higher than the weighted average.
  • Nine industrialized countries exempt long-term capital gains from taxation.
  • California has the 3rd highest top marginal capital gains tax rate in the industrialized world at 33 percent.
  • The taxation of capital gains places a double-tax on corporate income, increases the cost of capital, and reduces investment in the economy.
  • The President’s FY 2016 budget would increase capital gains tax rates in the United States from 28.6 percent to 32.8, the 5th highest rate in the OECD.

Top 10 Baby Names For 2014

May 19, 2015 Comments off

Top 10 Baby Names For 2014
Source: Social Security Administration

Rank Male name Female name
1 Noah Emma
2 Liam Olivia
3 Mason Sophia
4 Jacob Isabella
5 William Ava
6 Ethan Mia
7 Michael Emily
8 Alexander Abigail
9 James Madison
10 Daniel Charlotte

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

May 14, 2015 Comments off

Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic (PDF)
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

In 2013, the national high school graduation rate hit a record high of 81.4 percent, and for the third year in a row, the nation remained on pace to meet the 90 percent goal by the Class of 2020. This sixth annual update on America’s high school dropout challenge shows that these gains have been made possible by raising graduation rates for students who have traditionally struggled to earn a high school diploma, and focuses on the student subgroups and geographic areas that both contribute to this progress and are key to driving toward the 90 percent goal.

Continuing a pattern seen in earlier years, rates of improvement among states and large districts varied considerably between 2011 and 2013. Some districts, including those with a majority of low-income and minority students, made big improvements, while others lost ground. This is significant because it indicates that high school graduation rates are not increasing because of broad national economic, demographic, and social trends. Rather, the constellation of leadership, reforms, and multi-sector efforts at state, district, and school levels drove this progress, and shows that with focus, graduation rates can be increased for all students in every part of the country.

CAGW Releases 2015 Congressional Pig Book

May 14, 2015 Comments off

CAGW Releases 2015 Congressional Pig Book
Source: Citizens Against Government Waste

Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 2015 Congressional Pig Book, the 23rd edition of the group’s exposé on pork-barrel spending. CAGW President Tom Schatz was joined at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). Also in attendance was a live pot-bellied pig named Faye, from Richmond, Virginia.

The number of earmarks decreased slightly between fiscal year (FY) 2014 and FY 2015, from 109 to 105, but the total cost jumped by 56 percent, from $2.7 billion to $4.2 billion. While those figures are far below the record $29 billion in FY 2006, and there are no earmarks for screwworm research or teapot museums, there are some troublesome expenditures.

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