The Affordable Care Act dramatically increased the number of people with health insurance, and recent changes by Congress and the Biden administration have led to further increases in coverage. That’s according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Breanna Sharer explains:

As of 2023, the national uninsured rate had fallen below 8 percent, a record low that is less than half the rate before the ACA. The number of people with marketplace coverage has increased each year since 2021, with millions more people now enrolled. Improvements to the premium tax credits for marketplace coverage helped increase marketplace enrollment to over 21 million in 2024, up nearly 80 percent since the improvements were first enacted in 2021, when enrollment stood at just 12 million. 

Black communities are often located in historically underinvested areas with inadequate infrastructure, which makes them more vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. Brookings’ Manann Donoghoe and Andre M. Perry explain how community-led groups are working to improve disaster resilience in these areas:

JPNSI, operating in some of the most disaster-prone areas of New Orleans, advocates for policy change to better protect renters’ rights after a disaster strikes. By building coalitions of local Black, Latino, women, youth, elderly residents— some of the most vulnerable groups across the city — JPNSI has succeeded in changing local regulations. These changes address two of the largest sources of insecurity before, during, and after climate-related disasters: a disproportionate number of short-term rentals and high rates of eviction.

A post-high school plan

High school graduation rates are at an all-time high in Chicago. This historical surge is the result of the ‘Learn. Plan. Succeed’ initiative, which requires students to present a letter of acceptance from a higher education institution, vocational school, the armed forces, or a job-training program or job offer in order to obtain a high school diploma. Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was responsible for the program’s launch, in a guest column for the Washington Post, explains the benefits of equipping students with a post-high school plan:

By embracing the idea that high school graduation is not the finish line, we should incentivize each city and state — in a Race to the Top-like competition — to build a post-high school education and career plan for every student. … Every child deserves a choice and a chance, regardless of where they live, how much their parents make, or whom their parents know. To avoid another lost generation, we must shift the focus of high school education beyond a diploma to what comes beyond graduation day. It’s time to create a new vision of high school — one worthy of our children and their futures.

A coalition of environmental nonprofits and justice groups, labor unions and health professionals sent a letter to FEMA earlier this month asking the agency to add extreme heat and wildfire smoke to the list of natural disasters it responds to. FEMA traditionally responds to disasters that cause major damage to physical infrastructure, such as hurricanes. NPR’s Alejandra Borunda explains how this response strategy can leave communities dealing with extreme heat vulnerable:

“Hurricanes are terrible. Earthquakes are terrible. But actually, heat is the number one killer now of the climate emergency of any weather-related event,” says Jean Su, director of the Energy Justice Program at the Center for Biological Diversity and a leader of the new petition. Climate change has intensified the risks of heat and wildfire smoke turning what was once a manageable seasonal problem increasingly dangerous and deadly, Su says. Last year, at least 2,200 people died from heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though experts say that number is almost certainly a vast underestimate.

$14.60 – Median hourly wage for child care workers in the United States, which is less than two-thirds of the median wage for all occupations. Child care workers earn less, on average, than housekeepers and waitstaff. (Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)