21% In Pima Now On Ahcccs

One in every five Pima County residents is now enrolled in a state health-insurance program for Arizona’s poorest residents.

As the economic downturn persisted in 2009, the state’s version of Medicaid added more than 200,000 people, including nearly 30,000 in Pima County.

It’s a significant, historic jump, state officials say. No state program in Arizona has grown faster than AHCCCS, the governor’s office says.

Between 2004 and 2008, the number of Pima County residents enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System jumped by 27 percent.

During that same period, the local population increased by about 13 percent.

AHCCCS is for extremely low-income individuals and families in Arizona – in general, for people living at or below the federal poverty level. That would mean an annual income of less than $10,830 for an individual, or less than $22,050 for a family of four.

The income caps are so low that many people existing solely on unemployment insurance are earning too much to qualify for AHCCCS, program officials say.

As of Dec. 1, there were 213,876 Pima County residents enrolled in AHCCCS – 21 percent of the population.

Statewide, enrollment jumped 19 percent between Dec. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2009. It’s now at 1.4 million.

“Programs like Medicaid are countercyclical and are linked to the unemployment rate,” said Monica Coury, assistant director of intergovernmental affairs for AHCCCS. “In June of 2007 we were somewhere at about 3.5 unemployment, and as we went from 3.5 to 9 percent our enrollment figures have increased in a similar fashion.”

Though there was a modest decrease in enrollment from December to January, Coury said it’s not significant enough to indicate a downward trend.

“Think about the fact that our state’s economy is heavily focused on real estate and construction, and those industries are disproportionately affected and not expected to bounce back anytime soon,” she said. “A lot of people are struggling right now.”

Longtime Tucson resident Lorie-Anne Peltz enrolled in AHCCCS in September after becoming ill with kidney stones.

Peltz lost her job as an administrative assistant for a brokerage firm in January 2009. The single mother of one also lost her health insurance, and eventually her home and vehicle, too.

She applied for jobs constantly, all the time working toward an associate’s degree in criminal justice. She’ll graduate this June.

But all she has ever been able to find are temporary jobs, most of them paying less than $10 per hour.

Except for a brief two-month period of unemployment in 2004, Peltz had always been able to find work, she said. Her first job was in a doughnut shop when she was 14.

But this past year has been different.

She’s not sure when she’ll get steady work again. Until that time, both she and her son will remain on AHCCCS.

“I want a job. I need to pay my bills,” Peltz said. “It’s very frustrating. I’m busting my butt, always putting out applications.”

What’s also frustrating is that a lot of …

Moral Hazard and Common Decency: Response to the film Inside Job

In 13 Bankers (2010), Simon Johnson defines moral hazard as “the temptation for bank executives (and shareholders) to take risky gambles, knowing that they would benefit from success but that taxpayers would bear the losses in cases of failure” (p. 177). With moral hazard self-interest may overcome responsibility for caution to avoid calamity. In any business endeavor in which  a) risk is pursued, b) gratification is experienced in huge amounts of wealth, and c) regard for those exploited is systematically ignored or denied, morality has defaulted or ceased to exist. Instead of “the greater good” the result satisfies only “the lesser good”—those in a small percentage who benefit.

Is it possible for experienced bank CEO’s, academic advisors with advanced degrees from prestigious universities, and presidents to pursue hazardous economic programs with little concern for the moral delinquency in their actions? The US 08 financial meltdown indicates self-interest and greed overcame common decency at the highest levels of US economic governance.

Analogies are tempting although usually oversimplified, no matter how colorful. But here’s one that may have some application. The Titanic is sailing toward the iceberg. As it proceeds rapidly on course, the pride of the modern ship building and cruise ship industries, warnings are given to change course. It does not change course and comes the moment of impact; the
ship goes down in a catastrophe of property destruction and lives lost. But the captain and company executives who charted the course are not held responsible. These gentlemen represent what is “too big to fail.” The industry is replenished with funds to keep it going via taxpayer money in a humongous bailout. Another Titanic is launched on the same course toward the iceberg with the same crew. Far from being investigated and held responsible, they are rewarded with large bonuses and restored to the helm.

Against an understandable critique of irresponsible leadership—Wall Street, academia, government—the response has been ideologically defensive. This position holds that moral hazard involves risk, and it’s not helpful to lay blame after the events bringing the crash.
This same defensive posture maintains that, in principle, making money, large amounts of money including enormous bonuses (as with, say, a 100 million dollar bonus in one year) is the nature of marketing and the American way. We are a capitalist system, not interested in the heavy hand of government regulation and control. Within this view has come a naïve assessment of human nature as essentially benign. We all mean no harm, and essentially we regulate ourselves; therefore, there is no moral hazard really. Indeed, with this viewpoint common decency is the fundamental life-blood of the system. 

This argument somewhat runs into difficulties with conflicts of interest—again inviting consideration of moral hazard. Suppose a used car dealer shines up his stock of autos and they look very good. Additionally, they are stamped with high ratings, in many cases as triple A from associated used car-rating agencies. However, as all sales personnel at the dealership know well, the cars won’t …

Objectives for Business Incubators

What makes an incubator different is a program. Suppose a community builds a facility specifically to be used for a business incubator. The building itself will not make an incubator. It would be no different from any other rental space. It takes a plan and someone to make the plan work. Here are seven essential objectives that should be included in an incubator plan to make it successful.

Use a coordinator

It takes a person with relevant academic credentials, background in business, and the ability to understand what the tenants will experience. A coordinator with familiarity with as many facets of business as possible will increases the likelihood of success. They should be familiar with manufacturing, product development, finance, sales, marketing, and management. Someone who invents or produces something of commercial value of their own would be a good example.

Notify the press

Before the doors open, the media should be notified. Incubators are inherently places of change, and that is what journalists are looking for. Businesses in the building change. They start. They create. They grow. They provide personal fulfillment. Some make interesting gadgets. Some do fascinating things. Some make it and move on, others close. This is what stories are made of. The local papers will be most likely to publish a story. But, notify them all. It is a symbiotic relationship. Keeping people informed is key.

Inform the public

A story or two will get the word out. The subject of starting a business will be of strong interest to a fraction of the population. These people’s jobs may have gone overseas. Some have skills or a trade. People who have thought about inventing or producing something of their own will be interested in stories about personal business ventures, whether they are of success or failure. These are the kind of people who call to inquire about the availability of space. And they do it for the best reason; their own volition.

Create a milieu

Depending on the size and distance of the surrounding population, there may be enough applicants for the coordinator to pick and choose between entrepreneurs involved with various business activities. Attempt to create a milieu. Make a variety of entrepreneurs with crosscutting disciplines available within the building, so that there is an aggregate core of know-how from invention to collection. Encourage entrepreneurs to converse with each other while passing in the halls. Communication facilitates cross-pollination and the sharing of ideas. This could reduce the mystery of production and marketing. A manufacturer might be inspired to get more involved with marketing their own product, and a marketing person could become less inhibited about producing something tangible to add to their product line.

Be Selective

Each company allowed into the incubator should be in the process of developing a product, starting a business, or taking it to the next level. One quarter to one half of the companies should be using three phase manufacturing equipment, such as computer driven lathes and milling machines. That is …