Explainers

An occasional series

Insurance Changes Explained: Why State Officials Are Nervous About New Federal Rules
May 15, 2012 By Daniel C. Vock , Staff Writer

Insurance Changes Explained: Why State Officials Are Nervous About New Federal Rules

Traditionally, the federal government has left most regulation of insurance to the states. But passage of the Dodd-Frank law two years ago inserted the federal government deeper into the mix. More

Driving Laws Explained: In the Medical Marijuana Age, How High is too High to Drive?
April 11, 2012 By Maggie Clark , Staff Writer

Driving Laws Explained: In the Medical Marijuana Age, How High is too High to Drive?

States are growing more concerned about "drugged driving." But at the same time, many are offering avenues to legitimate marijuana use. Here’s a primer on the research and policy issues surrounding driving high. More

January 3, 2012 By Christine Vestal , Staff Writer

Health Law Explained: The States Gain New Flexibility in Setting Policies

Ever since the Affordable Care Act passed, states have worried that the federal government would set a rigid national standard for health benefits. Now it's clear that won't happen. More

December 6, 2011 By Daniel C. Vock , Staff Writer

Infrastructure Banks Explained: A Common State Tool Gets Mixed Marks

Most states have infrastructure banks, and President Obama wants the federal government to have one too. But as all levels of government look for creative ways to pay for transportation, the debate continues over the effectiveness of this strategy. More

November 22, 2011 By John Gramlich, Staff Writer

Municipal Bankruptcy Explained: What it Means to File for Chapter 9

Jefferson County, Alabama, filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in history this month. What exactly happens when a municipality goes broke? More

October 26, 2011 By John Gramlich, Staff Writer

Foreclosure Probe Explained: What State AGs Want From Big Banks

A year ago, all 50 states launched an investigation into some of the nation's biggest banks, accusing them of using illegal practices to cheat homeowners and worsen the foreclosure crisis. In this explainer, Stateline examines the states' investigation and its potential outcomes. More

October 13, 2011 By Ben Wieder, Staff Writer

School Accreditation Explained: Does a Seal of Approval Matter?

Kansas City's school system is about to join St. Louis in losing state accreditation. Does it matter? Here's a primer on school accreditation and what's at stake when schools lose it. More

October 6, 2011 By Christine Vestal , Staff Writer

Medicaid Explained: How Would Lower Provider Taxes Affect State Budgets?

To reduce the federal debt, the Obama administration has proposed rolling back a Medicaid financing mechanism that critics liken to a shell game. Here's a primer on how the change would affect states. More

August 8, 2011 By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer

Rising Revenues Explained: Are States Really Getting a Windfall?

Many of this year's state revenue forecasts underestimated the amount of money coming in. Budget writers wonder if that was a blip or a sign of better times ahead. More

July 28, 2011 By Christine Vestal , Staff Writer

Medicaid Explained: How a 'Blended Rate' Would Work

In debt-ceiling talks, the Obama administration has floated the idea of overhauling crucial federal funding formulas for Medicaid. Governors are concerned, because the plan would shift a greater share of Medicaid spending to the states.
More

June 23, 2011 By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer

Budget Gimmicks Explained: Five Ways States Hide Deficits

Next week starts a new fiscal year for most states. Are their new budgets truly balanced? It depends on how you do the math. More

May 31, 2011 By Christine Vestal , Staff Writer

Managed Care Explained: Why a Medicaid Innovation is Spreading

After two decades of experimenting with managed care in Medicaid, a growing number of states are expanding its use. Here's a primer on what's driving the growth in managed care, and why states are hopeful about cost savings even as critics say they should be cautious. More

May 4, 2011 By John Gramlich, Staff Writer

Rainy Day Funds Explained: How Much Money Should States Have in the Bank?

In states fortunate enough to have emergency cash reserves in a lean budget year, legislators are debating how much of that money to spend and how much to save for future crises. In this explainer, Stateline explores state rainy day funds. More

April 18, 2011 By Christine Vestal , Staff Writer

Medicaid Explained: How Would Block Grants Work?

Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House passed a plan that would overhaul the federal-state partnership when it comes to providing health insurance for the poor. Here's a primer on how Medicaid works, what's being proposed and what the impacts might be. More

April 5, 2011 By Josh Goodman, Staff Writer

State Budgets Explained: Why Deficit Figures Don't Always Add Up

In some states this year, disagreement over how to calculate budget deficits has made for confusing debates. Here's a primer on what budget shortfalls are, the math behind them and why those calculations have become controversial. More

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