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Utilizing the Social Security Administration’s Disability Analysis File

BETHESDA, MD – Since 2011, the Social Security Administration has offered its Disability Analysis File (DAF) on an annual basis, compiling data from a range of internal and external data sources into one cohesive database with additional composite variables. With historical data reaching back to 1994, these files contain data on all those individuals with disabilities below retirement age who have received benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. Data on these beneficiaries include one-time variables such as date of birth and Social Security Number, as well as historical and longitudinal data (e.g., eligible and actualized benefit payments, State of residence) tracked across multiple years. With the ability to retrieve reliable longitudinal data on beneficiaries with disabilities, the DAF is an important resource for those looking to perform any sort of analysis on this population.

More information about the DAF can be found on the Social Security Administration website at https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/daf.html.

With the ability to retrieve reliable longitudinal data on beneficiaries with disabilities, the DAF is an important resource for those looking to perform any sort of analysis on this population.

CMS’ New Case Study Showcases Successful Community Advisory Board Collaboration

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a case study highlighting Health Net of West Michigan, an organization participating in CMS’ Accountable Health Communities (AHC) Model. The AHC Model seeks to identify if healthcare costs and utilization can be impacted by the identification and subsequent mitigation of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries’ health-specific social needs. One part of Health Net’s approach to this identification is through its advisory board, which consists of community partners across multiple sectors and “focuses on addressing social determinants of health at the community and systems levels.”

The inclusion of community members on an advisory board can sometimes prove a struggle. As advisory boards do not have formal authority to direct change, participants can feel disheartened and superfluous to the process. Health Net seeks to engage its community advisory board members by putting them first: From letting the advisory board select their own role titles (“community advisor” was ultimately chosen) to helping advisors develop their professional skills and find opportunities that utilize their lived experiences, Health Net recognizes that by gaining their advisors’ trust and proving their commitment to the community, they will foster goodwill and find advisors with legitimate interest in bettering the community. The case study includes a quote from a community advisor, showcasing how Health Net’s approach to the community has resulted in engaged advisors who understand their role on the board and responsibility to their neighbors:

Health Net’s advisory board has proven beneficial for both the organization and the community at large. The community advisors bring their lived experiences to the table, ensuring that staff members recognize the humanity of those affected by the policies and challenges identified. Community advisors also ensure that Health Net’s actions are aligned with the needs and desires of the community at large, and can offer suggestions and ideas on how to “make [programs] more culturally sensitive and user friendly,” which further aids Health Net in fostering goodwill within the community.

“It’s important to me to decrease disparities about who gets help and who doesn’t […] I give them the idea of what it’s like to be a client out here… They always listen to what I have to say and support whatever I mentioned.” 

—Community Advisor

The CMS case study in full can be accessed at https://innovation.cms.gov/media/document/ahcm-casestudy-healthnet.

Health Net’s advisory board has proven beneficial for both the organization and the community at large. The community advisors bring their lived experiences to the table, ensuring that staff members recognize the humanity of those affected by the policies and challenges identified.

Census Releases Demonstration Data and Progress Metrics for New DAS

BETHESDA, MDThe Census Bureau continues to roll out data and information from the 2020 census. On April 28, it provided information about a new cryptography-inspired disclosure avoidance system (DAS) to protect the privacy of respondents. Using data from the 2010 census for demonstration purposes, Census has released several files of data to solicit feedback from users. The bureau hopes users can provide detailed information on the files’ fitness-for use, privacy, and any improvements that should be made.

More information can be found at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/2020-census/planning-management/2020-census-data-products/2020-das-development.html.

Using data from the 2010 census for demonstration purposes, Census has released several files of data to solicit feedback from users.

The State Data Resource Center’s Recommendations to Support Vaccine Equity

BETHESDA, MD – As of April 26, 29 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Vaccines are now available to all U.S. adults, and 2.6 million doses are being administered in the United States every day. As vaccination rates continue to increase, it is important that vaccine distribution is monitored to ensure that vulnerable populations are reached. Ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine—recognized as a national priority by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) —requires that data are available and appropriately used to evaluate socioeconomic and demographic vaccine distribution trends.

Earlier this month, the State Data Resource Center (SDRC) released information to support states in identifying COVID-19 vaccination Medicare claims among their dually eligible beneficiaries. SDRC was established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011 to help states obtain dually eligible beneficiary data. Econometrica supports CMS in providing resources to states to assist in requesting and using Medicare data files for care coordination and program integrity purposes.

The COVID-19 vaccine information was posted as an announcement on the SDRC website, developed and operated by Econometrica, and includes a recommended process for identifying COVID-19 vaccine claims in both the Coordination of Benefits Agreement (eCOBA) file and the monthly Parts A and B dataset. In both files, Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes are used to identify COVID-19 vaccine claims. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson each have their own assigned HCPCS codes with additional vaccine administration codes that specify whether the claim was the individual’s first or second dose.

In addition to identifying COVID-19 vaccine claims and ensuring each beneficiary received the appropriate number of doses, SDRC recommends that states link these claims to the beneficiary’s demographic information. In doing so, disparities in vaccine uptake across race/ethnicity, disability status, or geography can be evaluated and addressed.

The SDRC announcement highlights an important opportunity for state Medicaid agencies. Analyses, made possible through the use of SDRC data and the SDRC support team, can help to inform policy. By identifying any racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic disparities in access to COVID-19 vaccines, state policymakers can shift their distribution plans to ensure vaccines are available to vulnerable, dually eligible beneficiaries.

Vaccines are now available to all U.S. adults, and 2.6 million doses are being administered in the United States every day.

Suez Blockage Highlights Need for Transportation Network Vulnerability Tools

BETHESDA, MD – The recent blockage of the Suez Canal delayed worldwide shipping and caused billions in damages. A Bloomberg analysis reported that the grounding of the Ever Given held up as much as $9.6 billion in cargo per day, and The New York Times reported that it could take years to sort out all of the costs of the blockage.

The blockage highlights the need for transportation network vulnerability assessment tools, such as the port delay model developed by Econometrica to help the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) evaluate the economic costs of port closures.

USCG regulations affect a wide range of nonmarket factors, including risks of fatal and nonfatal injuries, ecosystem damage due to oil and hazardous materials spills, and economic disruption associated with natural and manmade disasters. As part of a larger study to advance the methods USCG uses to estimate the benefits of its regulations, Econometrica developed two scenario-based simulation models to estimate the economic costs of maritime transportation delays:

  • Deep Water Port (DWP) model
  • Inland Waterway (IW) model

The DWP model addresses delays associated with ocean-borne freight, whereas the IW model addresses freight delays that occur as a result of disruptions on inland waterways. Both models allow USCG to posit a variety of scenarios involving both expected and unexpected port disruptions/closures.

The models incorporate queuing and rerouting algorithms that depend on the specified length of the delay for the scenario. The models can distinguish between short-term delays—where delayed cargo is not rerouted—and longer-term delays, in which cargo is rerouted to a different port to mitigate the increasing cost of waiting for the delay to clear. In this regard, the models provide costs associated with queuing (or waiting for the delay to clear) as well as rerouting, if applicable.

The main cost elements include:

  • Increased transportation costs (e.g., fuel and other operating expenses) that accrue during the delay as a result of increased transit time, rerouting, and/or use of alternative modes of inland transportation.
    • Marine vessels.
    • Inland transportation modes.
  • Costs to shippers resulting from the additional transit time, including depreciation and inventory carrying costs.
  • Environmental costs that ensue as a result of increased transportation distances associated with rerouting or the temporary use of alternative transportation modes that have higher pollution emission rates.
  • Public safety costs attributable to reduced safety due to increased transportation distances associated with rerouting or temporary use of alternative transportation modes that are less safe than the normal water transportation modes used.

To create a specific user-defined scenario, users must enter the following types of information:

  • The length of the delay incident.
  • The volume of freight delayed during the incident.
  • Whether the delay is caused by an expected or unexpected type of event.
  • The coast on which the delay incident occurs.
  • Whether a random port is affected or a specific port is affected.
  • Whether all commodities are affected or a specific commodity is affected.

The models use this information to compute how much cargo is rerouted and queued, the additional time and distance associated with queuing and rerouting, and how long it takes to clear the delayed cargo given the backlog generated during the incident. The DWP model uses a gravity-like algorithm in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration’s Freight Analysis Framework database to reroute cargo from affected ports to alternate ports; the algorithm also computes several weighted-average metrics associated with rerouting, including marine distances, inland transportation distances, and inland transportation mode shifts. The IW model uses a tow arrival algorithm to capture rerouting decisions when there are closures on the Nation’s inland waterway system.

Based on these calculations, the models estimate the total economic costs attributable to the simulated port closure. The models also provide other capabilities, including the ability to compare delay costs for different commodity groups and the inclusion of a regulatory scenario analyzer that projects delay costs over a user-specified forecast horizon.

The blockage highlights the need for transportation network vulnerability assessment tools, such as the port delay model developed by Econometrica to help the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) evaluate the economic costs of port closures.

President Biden’s Budget Plan Includes Major Expansion in Funding for Housing Programs

BETHESDA, MD – President Biden recently previewed his request for fiscal year (FY) 2022 discretionary funding, including substantial investments in affordable housing and increases to housing assistance programs.

The FY 2022 blueprint includes $68.7 billion for HUD, a $9 billion, or 15 percent, increase from FY 2021. The budget request aims to significantly expand rental assistance programs, modernize housing stock to improve energy efficiency, reduce health hazards such as lead-based paint, address the critical shortage of affordable housing, and invest in programs to strengthen communities facing underinvestment and prevent and redress housing-related discrimination. The request also aims to further support access to homeownership for underserved borrowers through the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage insurance programs.

Some aspects of the budget request include:

  • $30.4 billion to expand the Housing Choice Voucher program to 200,000 additional households and improve mobility-related services to low-income families.
  • $800 million for the rehabilitation and modernization of public and HUD-assisted housing to further climate resilience and energy efficiency.
  • $3.2 billion in public housing modernization grants.
  • $3.8 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program.
  • $1.9 billion in the HOME Investment Partnership Program to build and rehabilitate affordable rental homes and support other housing-related needs, as well a $1800 million targeting new affordable housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
  • $85 million in grants to support state and local fair housing enforcement organizations and to further education, outreach, and training on rights and responsibilities under federal fair housing laws.
  • $400 million for HUD’s Lead Hazard and Healthy Homes grants, enabling state and local governments and nonprofits to reduce lead-based paint and other health hazards in the homes of low-income families with young children.
  • $3.5 billion to support those who are homeless and at risk of homelessness.
  • $900 million to fund efforts among Tribal communities to expand affordable housing and improve housing infrastructure.

The full budget blueprint can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FY2022-Discretionary-Request.pdf.

Econometrica has provided technical assistance and training, policy and program analysis, statistical surveys and research, market and feasibility analysis, and knowledge management to HUD, housing authorities, and other organizations nationwide over the years. Since 2011, Econometrica has provided technical assistance through HUD’s OneCPD/Community Compass initiative, which has convened a community of technical assistance providers to serve the Office of Public and Indian Housing, Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD), and other HUD programs and customers. Through OneCPD/Community Compass, Econometrica has provided a variety of services, with a focus on housing, community development, economic development, and neighborhood stabilization.

Econometrica also has evaluated the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, examining the new opportunities RAD creates for public housing authorities to improve public housing physical conditions, how RAD helps PHAs preserve those units over the long term, and the impact of these changes on tenants.

Our staff and business associates comprise a diverse mix of personnel, including former government employees with decades of experience in housing and community development programs, academic researchers from distinguished universities, and highly skilled housing professionals with hands-on experience in housing management, finance, grants monitoring, and other types of support. We are dedicated to supporting our clients in their diverse missions to expand and improve affordable housing, promote homeownership opportunities, stimulate community transformation, assist with disaster recovery, comply with reporting requirements, and enhance their performance.

Econometrica also has evaluated the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, examining the new opportunities RAD creates for public housing authorities to improve public housing physical conditions, how RAD helps PHAs preserve those units over the long term, and the impact of these changes on tenants.