Akee on Health Care Access for Undocumented Youth

Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee spoke to the Daily Bruin about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2019-2020 state budget and its implication for undocumented youth. Newsom’s budget would allocate $98 million to extend Medi-Cal coverage until age 26 for undocumented youth, who currently are covered until they reach the age of 19. Medi-Cal is California’s part of the federal Medicaid program, which provides free or low-cost medical services to those with limited income. Akee conducted research on the effects of losing access to Medicaid and found that emergency room visits increase when the patient does not have access to health care. Newsom’s proposal would ensure preventative care and decrease the number of costly emergency room visits, Akee argues. “They have a guaranteed source of medical coverage so they would take the preventative care that otherwise results in increased emergency room visits down the line,” he said.


 

Beatrice Lookinghorse sits with two of her grandchildren on Cheyenne River reservation in South Dakota

Akee on American Indian Child Welfare

Associate professor of public policy Randall Akee wrote an article for the Brookings Institution about how inaccurate data on poverty negatively affects American Indian and Alaskan Native children. High poverty rates have been used to justify removing American Indian children from their homes and placing them in state foster or adoptive care systems, he said. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 was passed to stop this practice and “prioritizes the judgment and decisions of the officials with the most experience and understanding of local conditions and experiences — tribal officials,” he said. He added: “There are important culturally specific safety nets that exist in many American Indian communities, most of which would be unknown to outsiders.” Although poverty measurements may not be accurate, Akee said child poverty rates are still much too high on American Indian reservations.


 

Akee Organizes Sweeping Symposium on Indian Gaming

Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee was featured in an article in Indian Country Today for his role in the organization of a far-reaching symposium on Indian gaming and self-determination. The event, “The Future of American Indian Gaming: The Next 30 Years,” took place at the Brookings Institution and highlighted the importance of tribal regulation of Indian gaming, as opposed to state control. Akee opened the event with a prayer in the native Hawaiian language. The symposium brought together regulators, tribal officials, researchers and federal agency officials who discussed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the importance of self-determination in Indian gaming. “I see this as the beginning of a broad discussion on the American Indian gaming industry, identifying ways in which we can support better research that informs policymaking at all levels of government whether it be tribal, state or federal,” said Akee, who is currently a fellow at Brookings. 


Akee on the 2018 American Family Survey

Associate Professor of Public Policy Randall Akee was intrigued by the personal identity responses on the 2018 American Family Survey, according to Deseret News. Akee said he would be interested in finding out whether race as a component of personal identification is more internal or imposed by society. He suggested it can be further examined by the American Family Survey. He noted, “For white families, 16 percent had had an immediate family member die; for black families, it’s much higher, 25 percent.” Further, he noted that more black and Latino respondents had experienced job loss than white respondents. He said this deserves more scrutiny by policymakers. “This should double our efforts for understanding why that is the case,” Akee concluded.


 

New Rules Could Disenfranchise American Indians, Akee Says

Changes to North Dakota’s voting requirements threaten to disenfranchise thousands of American Indians, UCLA Luskin’s Randall Akee explained in a podcast for the Brookings Institution, where he is currently a fellow. A U.S. Supreme Court action, less than a month before the November 2018 election, permitted the changes, which require voters to produce identification that includes a street address. Many of North Dakota’s American Indians live on reservations and use a P.O. Box instead of a street address, said Akee, an associate professor of public policy. The new requirements could sway some very close races, including Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s battle to keep her seat, he said. Akee noted that American Indians did not get the right to vote until 1924. “It’s been less than a century that they’ve been allowed to participate in the voting process. And that’s why this particular turn of events, of disenfranchising Native Americans on reservations, is so distasteful.”


 

Ruling Puts Welfare of American Indian Children at Risk, Akee Writes

Randall Akee, assistant professor of Public Policy and American Indian Studies, wrote an article for the Brookings Institution’s Up Front blog likening the separation of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border to that of the United States’ former policy of permanently relocating American Indian children from their families and often impoverished communities into foster homes. This practice was in place until as recently as 1978, when the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was enacted, granting tribal governments exclusive jurisdiction over American Indian child custody cases. However, the ICWA was recently ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas. Akee argues that the state-ordered breakup of tribal families is cruel and unnecessary and, if resumed, could further harm the already largely damaged tribal communities. Furthermore, he argues that indigenous peoples thrive under independence and self-governance, and meddling by state civil and criminal jurisdictions cause these communities to “[experience] an increase in crime and a reduction in incomes,” not to mention the “disastrous” effect on the welfare of the children themselves. 


 

Akee Pens Op-Ed on Historical Echoes of Trump’s Border Policies

Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy at UCLA Luskin, wrote an opinion article about the federal government’s family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, noting, “It’s on each of us to realize that what we’re seeing is history repeating itself.” Akee called the current policy unjust, ill-conceived and inhumane, and likened it to the era of American Indian boarding schools, when “the U.S. government also separated children from parents — often under the guise of improving safety and opportunities for these children.” That separation “often resulted in death, disease and deprivation,” Akee wrote in the Houston Chronicle op-ed, adding, “The Trump administration’s actions in 2018 aren’t, unfortunately, all that different from historical actions taken by the United States toward its indigenous peoples over the last 150 years.”

Akee Connects Employment Experiences by Race to Wealth Inequality

Randall Akee, associate professor of public policy, authored an article posted on RealClearMarkets about research linking higher levels of psychological stress suffered by blacks — compared to whites — related to short-term unemployment. Citing his own research, Akee suggests that differences in wealth by race might account for differences in unemployment experiences. “There are significant costs to wealth inequality. We have known for some time that it serves as an obstacle to important investment decisions in education and entrepreneurship. Now, we’re finding evidence that it may have adverse effects on individual well-being and mental health in the face of short-term unemployment,” Akee wrote.


 

UCLA Luskin Public Policy Professor Named a Brookings Institution Fellow Randall Akee is among the first class of scholars and experts awarded two-year terms as David M. Rubenstein Fellows

By Stan Paul

Randall Akee

For Randall Akee, conducting research with restricted-use U.S. Census data has meant time-consuming travel back and forth across the country to Washington.

But a two-year residence in the nation’s capital as a Brookings Institution Fellow starting in September 2017 will allow the assistant professor of public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs to spend more time working on issues of income inequality across racial and ethnic categories. While there, he will also collaborate with a number of Washington-based American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians.

“It will also, hopefully, foster additional collaboration with agencies that collect data on these populations,” said Akee, citing the Indian Health Service and the Department of the Interior.

Akee, who also holds an appointment in American Indian Studies at UCLA, is among 10 outstanding early- and mid-career scholars and experts selected for the inaugural class of the Brooking Institution’s David M. Rubenstein Fellows. The new fellows will focus on one or more of Brookings’ five research programs. These include economic studies, where Akee will be positioned, as well as governance studies, foreign policy, metropolitan policy, and global economy and development.

The program is funded by a multimillion-dollar gift from Rubenstein, co-chair of the Brookings board of trustees, and co-founder and chief executive officer of the Carlyle Group.

“I believe strongly not just in Brookings’ work to improve governance locally, nationally and globally, but in the Institution’s commitment to fostering diverse thinking in the ranks of public policy researchers and practitioners,” Rubenstein said in announcing the new fellowship program in March 2017. “Finding solutions to the complex challenges we face requires new and innovative thinking that reflects a variety of perspectives, disciplines and experiences.”

In addition to conducting in-depth research and analysis, fellows will have the opportunity to learn about advanced communication tools designed to maximize both the reach and impact of their scholarship. Akee said he is looking forward to working with the century-old nonprofit public policy organization’s experts and staff on research dissemination techniques and methods.

“Overall, I expect it to be a very productive time,” said Akee, who is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, as well as a number of organizations and institutes focused on his interests in labor economics, economic development and migration.