Clearing criminal records, the future of the child tax credit, and the big hospital bills rape victims can face if they go to the ER
Also, do Republicans have a plan if they win in November?
Happy September! 🍂 I have fallen a little behind with this, and have a few stories to share.
1. The first is on what’s likely ahead for the expanded child tax credit. In 2021, the CTC passed as part of Biden’s pandemic relief program, and delivered hundreds of dollars into parents’ bank accounts every month. It was a huge boon to working families and kept 3.7 million kids out of poverty. It was also one of the most important priorities for the Build Back Better negotiations. I had covered the issue back in April when negotiations seemed moribund, and in my new story I look at what happens now that the Inflation Reduction Act is officially passed and the expanded CTC was not included.
The short of it is that there is a window of opportunity advocates and lawmakers are eyeing in December, when some Trump-era business tax credits are set to expire. The thinking is that if lawmakers agree to extend those business subsidies (as they’re being heavily lobbied to do) then they would also likely pass some sort of paired relief for working families, and so could potentially legislate some improvements to the CTC. But any deal will require at least 10 Republicans, which means Democrats will have to entertain terms that they refused to consider with Joe Manchin last year. I also look at developments happening on the state-level. You can read that piece here.
2. The second piece is about the national movement to clear criminal records. If you’ve ever been arrested, or served time, the fact that you have a permanent record can dramatically limit your ability to find housing, get a job, even do things like volunteer or adopt children. Researchers call these the “collateral consequences” of mass incarceration, and an estimated 70-100 million Americans have such records.
I wrote about an ambitious bill in California that would automatically seal hundreds of thousands of records, and give roughly a million more people the opportunity to petition for clearance. It passed the California legislature in August and Gov. Newsom has to decide whether to sign it this month. You can read the story here (as well as about record clearing news on the federal level.)
3. If Republicans win in November, what if anything do they plan to do? Biden will still be in the White House, but we took our best stab at reading through the various GOP plans to lay out what we know so far, including about the various factional in-fighting. You can read that here. (I’ll have a fair bit more midterm-focused pieces coming up over the next two months since we’re in the home stretch.)
4. I covered new research published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzing billing information for victims of rape and sexual violence who visited the ER. The findings are wrenching: There were over 17,000 uninsured victims of sexual violence who visited the ER in 2019. On average they had to pay $3,673 out-of-pocket for their care. Even victims with insurance often had hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket charges.
Under the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law passed in 1994, only forensic exams ("rape kits") are covered with public funds. But any care for the actual patient — like sewing vaginal lacerations, treating fractures + broken bones, STI antibiotics, etc, that's on the victim. The piece looks at how we could fix this, and also what this means in a world without Roe. You can read that here.
One of my favorite things is learning from my brilliant readers, who not only send me good ideas but often take my reporting and build upon it and interpret the findings in ways I hadn’t even yet considered. That happened with this piece and I’m sharing their tweets directly because I think they put some of the post-Roe related implications really well.
Rachel Cohen @rmc031A new study found uninsured victims of sexual violence were charged an average of $3,673 for visiting the emergency room in 2019. There were over 17,000 such patients that year. https://t.co/LThtYRvxGK
Rachel Cohen @rmc031Rape victims can face huge hospital bills if they seek medical care. I cover newly published research in @NEJM, and what this all means in a world without Roe https://t.co/LThtYRuZRc
Thanks for reading. Hope you all get your boosters, and I welcome your feedback any time!