Affordable Care Act

January 1st will mark the first anniversary of the expansion of coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

At the heart of the landmark health law is the idea that by reducing the number of uninsured, Americans will get healthier thanks to regular checkups. Planners have hoped that would result in fewer chronic conditions that drive up health care costs for everyone. 

It may be a simple idea, but implementing the incredibly complex law was anything but easy, and so far it’s been filled with plenty of highs and lows.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition host Joe Moore speaks with Fresno Superior Court Judge Robert Oliver about the relevancy of the grand jury system in lieu of the activities in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Last week’s court decision on medical care for undocumented individuals has both health advocates and legal experts across the state buzzing. And as FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, the issue could have an impact beyond those in the program.


The ruling by Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black lifted part of a 30-year-old court order involving specialty medical care for the indigent.

The county had been barred from using a person’s immigration status to turn away people from the program.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

In a cramped cubicle in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Fresno County, Neng Yang is playing a small role in the country’s healthcare overhaul. On this afternoon, she’s helping a Hmong woman enroll in Medi-Cal.

“She prefers English, so her kids can read to her, because she doesn’t read and write in Hmong, and sometimes the translation gets lost when it’s sent to her in Hmong,” says Yang, a certified enrollment counselor at Fresno Center for New Americans.

This week on Valley Edition we talk about air quality, drought in California, a Fresno production of Les Miserables and more.

Starting the program, Valley Public Radio Reporter Ezra David Romero takes a look at barbecue restaurants – one of the biggest food trends in the region – and how the Valley Air District hopes to work with them while developing future regulations.

Community Hospitals/ UCSF Fresno

In Fresno County, implementation of the federal healthcare law has had some unintended consequences.

For one, the law expanded the insurance program for the poor, known here as Medi-Cal. That’s a huge benefit to uninsured people who could not previously afford health coverage. But it’s turned out to be a problem for the county. It’s now receiving less state funding for its medical safety-net program, based on the assumption that less people will need it. The county contracts out this care to Community Regional Medical Center.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Operators have responded to about 400,000 calls since Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, launched Oct. 1. Starting this week, employees at the new Fresno Service Center will also answer questions, and help people enroll in health insurance.

“Fresno is a community that reflects the diversity of California, and that’s who we need to have on our phones, serving Californians,” said Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California.

Last summer, President Obama announced a new policy, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It allows certain immigrant youth to remain in the country and obtain a work permit, without fear of deportation.

“This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven and patriotic young people,” Obama said, when he announced the program in June 2012.

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at issues that have an impact both in Central California and the rest of the state. Starting off the program host Joe Moore speaks with Fresno Bee Editorial Page Editor Bill McEwen about the state of politics in the region. 

Madera Community Hospital

If Madera Community Hospital is a safety net for county residents, then medical professionals like Stephanie Rolfo are a crucial link. On a September morning, Rolfo greets a patient who’s coming to the hospitals’ on-site clinic for a physical.

The hospital has 106 beds, and is the only adult acute care facility in the county. It also operates three rural health clinics, like the one where Rolfo, who’s a nurse practitioner, works.