Pauline Bartolone

Covered California Gears Up For Open Enrollment

Nov 13, 2014

Covered California is trying to raise awareness about the start of open enrollment this Saturday, November 15th. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, the experience this year may be different for people buying their own insurance.

Covered California says its website this year will be able to accommodate more people who might be logging in at the same time. And Director Peter Lee says it will have 200 storefront locations and expanded service center hours.

Proposition 46 Has Physicians and Attorneys At Odds

Oct 10, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

As the November election approaches, one state proposition has drawn the most money from top contributors. Proposition 46 would raise the cap on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, the measure could change the way doctors practice.  

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A measure on the November ballot would give California’s elected insurance commissioner power to reject health insurance premium increases for people in individual and small group plans. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento explains, that policy change would be more complicated than it seems.

When the Affordable Care Act set up a state-run health insurance marketplace, it created a framework through which more than a million people signed up for health care within months. But it also created a new state agency that insurance companies must answer to. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A California ballot measure before voters next month would redirect $600 million of pre-approved funds to build housing for low income and homeless veterans. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento. 

Forty-eight year-old Matthew Meissner says when one thing goes downhill, everything else follows. He became disabled in 2009, stopped working, moved in with family, then last year, found himself sleeping wherever he could in Sacramento.  

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

California lawmakers will hear a bill this week that would give unauthorized immigrants the ability to buy health insurance and enroll in Medi-Cal. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The Affordable Care Act specifically excludes undocumented immigrants from new health coverage options. In California, undocumented immigrants can receive emergency health services and some counties offer other care to people regardless of status. 

The leftover prescription drugs you have around your house are at the center of a battle between small government and big pharmaceutical companies.

The immediate aim is to have the pharmaceutical companies take care of disposing of extra drugs. But Alameda County in northern California wants to make manufacturers think about the life cycles of their products — from their creation to what happens when they're no longer needed.

When Diane Shore got a letter that her health policy would be canceled, the small premium increase for the new plan didn't bother her that much.

But the changes in her choices for care really bugged her. "My physicians will no longer be in this network of physicians, or the hospitals," she says.

Shore, 62, owned an IT consulting business in the San Francisco Bay Area and retired when she sold it in 2000. She wants to stick with the health care providers that she's had for years, she says, including the surgeon who cared for her when she had breast cancer in 1998.


PAULINE BARTOLONE, BYLINE: I'm Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento.

California, like Colorado, has been full speed ahead in creating its own health insurance marketplace. Melissa Martinez has been looking forward to using it. She works at home as a consultant. She also lives with an autoimmune disease.

MELISSA MARTINEZ: This last bout of insuring myself it was about $600 a month, and my meds - because I have lupus - are about $600 a month. And so I had to pick one or the other. So I let my insurance go.

Sitting in her San Francisco living room, Kimberly Jeffrey is combing her son Noel's hair. He groans, but she meets his energy with calm — and adoration.

Noel's birth was not an easy time. While Jeffrey was pregnant, she served a six-month sentence for petty theft at a state prison. When it came time to deliver Noel through a caesarean-section, Jeffrey was also confronted with the prospect of sterilization.

Hospitals in California are commending the state’s decision to prevent Medi-Cal rate cuts to rural hospitals with nursing facilities. Some of them have been at risk of closure. 

Republican State Assemblymember Brian Dahle says these medical providers are main employers in communities he represents in Northern California.

“We have folks who travel a long ways to those hospitals. And if we lose those hospitals we’re going to lose tour communities. And it would be hundreds of miles to get to the next facility so that’s very critical for our areas,” says Dahle.