Tort reform that limits medical malpractice (“med mal”) suits can affect healthcare spending in a couple of different ways. However, on theoretical grounds, it is not clear whether tort reform will reduce healthcare spending. New research from Myungho Paik, Bernard Black and David A. Hyman revisits the impact of tort reform and med mal risk on healthcare spending. They find that there is no evidence that adoption of damage caps reduces either Part A or Part B Medicare spending, and in fact, there is some evidence that specific caps lead to higher Part B spending.
In a new study, David J. Armor, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at George Mason University, finds the touted benefits of preschool still remain unproven.
In The Evidence on Universal Preschool: Are Benefits Worth the Cost?, Armor reviews the existing research on preschool programs, including those designated “high quality,” as well as the more traditional programs like Head Start. Armor argues the most rigorous studies show the academic benefits of preschool programs are virtually non-existent by the time the children enter elementary school.
Armor contends when preschool programs are studied with randomized designs, as was done in a study of the federal Head Start program, they show no lasting results. Students in Head Start saw immediate gains in reading and math skills during the preschool years, but these effects were modest and short-lived. By the time the kindergarten year was over, the positive gains of Head Start students had disappeared.
The studies of preschool initiatives that do show benefits use a flawed methodology, according to Armor. These studies compare students who were enrolled in pre-K the previous year to children who are just starting preschool. Any difference between the two groups is assumed to be the result of pre-K. However, these types of studies fail to account for students in the kindergarten group that may have dropped out of pre-K during the previous year, thereby biasing results upwards. Moreover, they do not assess whether the knowledge gain from pre-K continues on throughout grade school.
“As election-year rhetoric reaches a fever-pitch in its promotion of preschool for all, there should be clear, definitive, and inarguable benefits from preschool education,” said Armor. “With estimates of providing all four-year olds with a preschool education topping out at a staggering $50 billion per year, adopting policies like universal preschooleducation could be an expensive wager on programs that so far have not been shown to have lasting benefits.”