Recent RAND research can shed light on how Congress might consider divvying up funds to support students over the next year.

by Grace Evans, Heather L. Schwartz, Benjamin K. Master

A child places his test swab in a vial at South Boston Catholic Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 2021. Photo by Allison Dinner/Reuters
A child places his test swab in a vial at South Boston Catholic Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 2021. Photo by Allison Dinner/Reuters
A child places his COVID-19 testing swab in a vial at South Boston Catholic Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 2021. Photo by Allison Dinner/Reuters

President Biden’s plan calls for $50 billion to scale up COVID-19 testing to support safe school reopening and protect at-risk populations like those in prisons and long-term care facilities. The plan also calls for $130 billion to help schools safely reopen and identifies summer school or other supports to help students compensate for lost learning time as permissible uses of this funding. Recent RAND research can shed light on how Congress might consider divvying up these two buckets of funds to support students over the next year.

A new RAND working…


“Building back better” requires understanding a community’s needs, ambitions, goals, vulnerability, and capacity.

by Max Izenberg and Aaron Clark-Ginsberg

Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Photo by gillfoto/CC BY-SA 4.0
Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Photo by gillfoto/CC BY-SA 4.0
Tongass National Forest, Alaska. Photo by gillfoto/CC BY-SA 4.0

Long before it was popularized and made its way into political slogans and economic recovery battle cries, the phrase “building back better” was a central tenet of disaster recovery and community resilience. In these circles, the concept refers to more than how to create lasting infrastructure. Instead, it means substantially improving individual and community well-being.

Viewed through this lens, “building back better” requires understanding a community’s needs, ambitions, goals, vulnerability, and capacity. It means local voices must be front and center as plans and decisions are made. …


Might the crises of the past year provide a catalyst for a renewed sense of civic engagement?

by Katherine Grace Carman, Tamara Dubowitz, Christopher Nelson

Volunteers at an annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Inglewood, California, November 23, 2020. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters
Volunteers at an annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Inglewood, California, November 23, 2020. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters
Volunteers help at an annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, Inglewood, California, November 23, 2020. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

The past year has been among the most turbulent in recent memory, with a global pandemic killing well over 350,000 Americans, protests against police brutality as well as to foster racial justice, a flagging economy, and a contested presidential election. Might the crises of the past year provide a catalyst for a renewed sense of civic engagement that transcends some of the race and class divisions COVID-19 has exacerbated?

In October of 2020, RAND and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation surveyed a nationally representative sample of 4,143 individuals with household incomes under…


Any device can be hacked, including one inside the human body. What are the privacy and security implications of devices that live with us?

Image depicting an internal view of a heart with an internal pacemaker. Image by peterschreiber.media/Adobe Stock
Image depicting an internal view of a heart with an internal pacemaker. Image by peterschreiber.media/Adobe Stock
Image by peterschreiber.media/Adobe Stock

The “Internet of Things” gave us driverless cars, video doorbells, and smart refrigerators — everyday items made new with sensors and network connections. Up next: the “Internet of Bodies.” You’re about to find out just how personal your personal technology can get.

Think smart pills transmitting information from inside your body; smart beds that can track your heart rate and breathing; even smart clothes that can sense your body temperature — and adjust your smart thermostat accordingly. One team of doctors recently announced the development of “hardware and software for the long-term analysis of a user’s excreta”-a smart toilet.

There…


The price Americans pay for insulin is more than ten times higher than the average price in 32 other countries combined.

A woman from MN holds up U.S. and Canadian insulin,  June 29, 2019. Photo by Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press via AP
A woman from MN holds up U.S. and Canadian insulin,  June 29, 2019. Photo by Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press via AP
A woman from Minnesota holds up her U.S. bottle of NovoLog insulin and a Canadian box of NovoRapid, which she bought at a pharmacy in Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2019. Photo by Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press via AP

Drug companies charge more for insulin in the United States than in nearly three dozen other countries RAND researchers examined — and it’s not even close. The average list price for a unit of insulin in Canada was $12. Step across the border into America, and it’s $98.70.

Those differences help explain why insulin has become a symbol of the high cost of American health care. Its prices have shot up in recent years, for reasons that are opaque at best, with those who can least afford it often paying the most. …


Telehealth use skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can this form of high quality, low cost care be maintained post–COVID-19?

by Shira H. Fischer and Joshua Breslau

Therapist Heather Guinn conducts a virtual session, April 22, 2020. Photo by MaCabe Brown/Courier & Press/Reuters
Therapist Heather Guinn conducts a virtual session, April 22, 2020. Photo by MaCabe Brown/Courier & Press/Reuters
Therapist Heather Guinn conducts a virtual session with a patient via telemedicine, April 22, 2020. Photo by MaCabe Brown/Courier & Press/Reuters

Telehealth use skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the public health emergency, Medicare had 13,000 members with telehealth service claims; two months later, that number was almost 1.7 million. Similarly, the number of private claims for telehealth were 40 times higher in March 2020 than they were a year earlier. The availability of these virtual appointments when offices were closed, the newly allowed insurance coverage of such appointments, and the ability to use non-HIPAA secure platforms like Zoom and FaceTime, certainly drove much of the increase.

But a less-noted additional change may have…


The CARES Act showed that Unemployment Insurance can do better by workers and employers.

by Kathryn A. Edwards

Sign posted at the NY State Dept of Labor in Brooklyn, NY, March 20, 2020. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Sign posted at the NY State Dept of Labor in Brooklyn, NY, March 20, 2020. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Signage posted on the entrance of the New York State Department of Labor offices in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, March 20, 2020. Photo by Andrew Kelly/Reuters

In every recession since 1957, Congress has intervened (PDF) in Unemployment Insurance to put off benefits’ expiration date. But with the CARES Act, passed in March, Congress stepped into new territory. Congress increased the dollar amount of benefits and, for the first time, changed tax rates and covered additional groups of workers.

These provisions, even if they eventually expire some time in 2021, made stark the crucial ways that Unemployment Insurance is falling short for covered workers, workers not covered, and the employers who pay into it. …


There are large disparities in who is able to telework by race and ethnicity—but even larger ones by educational attainment.

by Jason M. Ward

Image for post
Image for post
A worker sits on the back of a delivery truck during a snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts, December 17, 2020. Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

Teleworking has increased tremendously in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to telework is associated with both reduced risk of infection and significantly lower risk of job loss. Recently released data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) sheds new light on how widespread telework has become and who is doing it. There are large disparities by race and ethnicity — but even larger ones by educational attainment.

As seen in Figure 1, non-Hispanic whites are 62 percent of all workers, but 69 percent of teleworkers, an 11.5 percent positive gap. (These gaps are calculated as…


States, health systems, and the public continue to need clarity on health care resource allocation policy.

by Lori Frank and Thomas W. Concannon

Patients in the hallway of a hospital in Apple Valley, California, January 12, 2021. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters
Patients in the hallway of a hospital in Apple Valley, California, January 12, 2021. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters
Patients in the hallway as St. Mary Medical Center during the outbreak of the COVID-19 in Apple Valley, California, January 12, 2021. Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

The surge-upon-surge of COVID-19 cases in the United States has again focused attention on scarcity of lifesaving medical resources — hospital beds, ICU equipment, ventilators, oxygen, medications, and hospital staff. With nearly 124,000 people hospitalized — and more than 23,000 in ICU care — hospitals have reached and exceeded their capacity from California to Georgia to Texas to Tennessee.

What happens next in each of those states will differ. Guidelines for how to allocate health care resources — where they exist at all — vary widely by state. Fundamental questions about who gets…


LA County could be a forerunner of success and establish a path for other counties to help this vulnerable group.

by Alicia Revitsky Locker, Sierra Smucker, Aisha Najera Chesler

Christina Bojorquez and Kimberly Decoursey pitch a tent in Los Angeles, CA, October 14, 2019. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Christina Bojorquez and Kimberly Decoursey pitch a tent in Los Angeles, CA, October 14, 2019. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
Christina Bojorquez and Kimberly Decoursey pitch a tent in their encampment next to a freeway in Los Angeles, California, October 14, 2019. Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Homelessness is a critical issue in Los Angeles County, but there is one particularly vulnerable homeless subgroup that has historically not been recognized: unaccompanied women. Recently, the county has created homeless subpopulations in the official homeless count to help policymakers provide tailored services and allot resources to individuals without housing. Existing subpopulations include veterans, families, single mothers, and unaccompanied youth, and as of September 2020, unaccompanied homeless women are now included.

Unaccompanied homeless women are defined as single women who are not caring for children or other dependents. These women are…

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