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.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

The almond harvest is well underway in Madera County.

Along a tree-lined, rural road, about a dozen Agriland employees are loading almonds into a huge elevator. The nuts will then be loaded into a truck. They will appear on the shelves as Blue Diamond-brand almonds, among others.

Fresno Bee / Fresno Bee

This week on Valley Edition FM89 reporter Rebecca Plevin examines how Madera County's only federally qualified health center is gearing up for Obamacare. Also on the program host Joe Moore speaks with Rick Chavez, the Fresno County Chief Probation Officer to replace Linda Penner come August. 

Camarena Health

In less than three months, thousands of California residents will begin enrolling in expanded health coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act. The law is complex and touches almost every part of the health care system. But what does it mean for residents of the San Joaquin Valley? Over the coming months, we’ll explore that question by visiting with patients, doctors, businesses and clinics in the community of Madera. It’s a city that’s home to more than 62,000 people, more than quarter of whom live below the poverty level.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A new type of residency program may provide some relief to the Central Valley’s physician shortage, and change the way we grow and retain primary care doctors in the Valley.

The model is called a “teaching health center,” and it’s funded by the Affordable Care Act.

The idea behind this new approach to graduate medical education is to train medical residents in community health centers, and encourage them to pursue careers in primary care in underserved areas, like the Valley.

Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will consider new legislation designed to keep the state in sync with the federal health law. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, the legislation is part of a special session on health care that began Monday.

Lawmakers in both houses propose bills that would add more than a million people to the state’s Medicaid program.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said his bill would allow individuals with an annual income of around $15,000 dollars to get public health insurance – and that could indirectly help other Californians, too.

The federal government has awarded California $674 million to develop an online health insurance marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The two-year grant for the exchange known as Covered California is less than the $706 million requested. But Executive Director Peter Lee says he believes the grant will give the state all the resources it needs.

Shellie Branco / Valley Public Radio

In less than one year, the federal health care law will take effect. When that happens, an estimated 1.4 million low-income, uninsured adults in California will become eligible for Medicaid. That’s a huge number of people who will suddenly be eligible for health benefits and better access to health care.