Central Valley

Office of Congressman Jeff Denham

The expansion of Medi-Cal in the Central Valley under the Affordable Care Act has been key to slashing the area’s uninsured rate in half in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of people signed up, and in most valley counties, about half of the population is on Medi-Cal. But according to some, having more people on the program has compounded the problem of low reimbursement rates for physicians and the area’s long-running doctor shortage.

Office of Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Local Republicans played a big role in today’s passage American Health Care Act in the U.S. House Representatives.

During a victory press conference in the White House Rose Garden, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said repealing the Affordable Care Act will be a positive for the American people.

Fresno State University

With President Donald Trump promising to revive the repeal of the Affordable Care Act this week, a new poll of Central Valley residents offers insight into the local reaction to proposed changes to the law, commonly known as Obamacare. Overall, according to new research by Fresno State’s Institute for Leadership and Public Policy, 47% of Central Valley residents oppose repealing the law. 29% say they support partial repeal, while 17% say they want full repeal.

Since 2013, the law has resulted in the uninsured rate being cut in half.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Les Wright oversees all of Fresno County’s crops. He’s the agricultural commissioner here. Often he’s meeting with growers and ranchers on their farms, but today he’s fielding calls from his Fresno office.

The reason? He says farmers are busy doing office work because the rain means they can’t be in the fields.

“Some are welcoming more rain, others aren’t,” Wright says. “I was talking to one of the major growers out on the Westside and they were trying to mud-in their onion seed because it was so wet.”

Twice as many stores in the Central Valley sell flavored cigarettes and alcohol than sell fresh fruits and vegetables. That's the finding of a new state health survey. 

The Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community survey, released Wednesday, found that it’s far easier to find tobacco or alcohol than it is to find fresh food, especially in low-income neighborhoods. 

Fresno-based pediatrician Dr. Razia Sheik says in Fresno County, for example, just 39% of stores carried fresh fruits and vegetables.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

California is in the middle of reversing decades of ‘tough on crime’ policies. Realignment and propositions 47 and 57 have been instituted to lighten the load in county jails and state prisons.

Now lawmakers are examining a system that sometimes keeps people in jail before they have even been convicted. Criminal justice reformers say California’s use of cash bail has created an income-based justice system.

So here is how this works.

Let’s say you are arrested and charged with a crime and find yourself in the Fresno County Jail.

UC Berkeley Labor Center

Politicians in California and Washington D.C. are busy trying to figure out the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Should it be fully repealed? What will the replacement be? Should there be a replacement at all? While the potential replacement is still a mystery, two researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education took a look at the potential impact of full repeal on the San Joaquin valley’s job market. They claim job losses from a repeal of the law would be worse than job losses caused by the drought.

coveredca.com

The debate over the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a hot topic in Washington. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Central Valley residents have found insurance under the law. With the Republican replacement plan still very much a mystery, Valley Public Radio decided to take a look back at the raw data to see what has changed in the Central Valley.

Before the law’s insurance coverage expansion provisions took effect in the fall of 2013, all five of the Central Valley counties from Merced to Kern had uninsured rates of around 25%.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Finding the perfect doctor can be a feat for anyone, but for LGBT people in rural places finding an understanding physician can sort of feel impossible. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports some say visiting a doctor's office is so intimidating that often they go without care.  

In 2014 Visalia pediatrician Kathryn Hall got fed up. She sees her practice as welcoming to LGBT people, but she felt that conservative values and homophobia in Tulare County have kept many from receiving proper healthcare.

The smoke from the Rough Fire near Hume Lake has now spread throughout communities in the San Joaquin Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, this is causing the Valley’s air pollution to spike to potentially dangerous levels.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health alert for the rest of the week for several counties including Fresno, Madera and the valley portion of Kern County. They’re recommending people to limit their outdoor activities.

THOMAS VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

California health officials are noticing a big jump in babies born with congenital syphilis and the Central Valley is at the top of the list. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, state and county health leaders met in Fresno Wednesday to discuss the alarming trend.

Cases of congenital syphilis in California jumped from 30 in 2012 to 100 in 2014. Babies who contract the disease from their mothers during pregnancy can face lifelong health problems and even death.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The lack of rain and snow over the past four years has affected the agriculture industry statewide. That impact includes one of the smallest farmed creatures: the honeybee. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that with a lack of flowers to pollinate because of weather conditions bees are struggling and some beekeepers are even leaving the state.

As Gene Brandi and I approach a colony of honeybees near a field of blooming alfalfa east of Los Banos he uses the smoke from a canister of burning burlap to calm the bees, which in turn quiets my nerves.

Today marks the first day of class for Fresno State students. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports the university is now offering services specifically for undocumented students.

The Dream Outreach Center is a place where undocumented students, known as "dreamers", can go to get help in their journey to and through college. It’s the first time Fresno State is offering this type of help to incoming and currently enrolled students, whether it’s filling out applications or financial aid paperwork.

Raul Moreno is the coordinator.

The Central Valley is home to diverse communities, some who’ve migrated from all over the world for decades. But for one group, it’s the beginning of the first generation of people born in the Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, with this comes the struggle of preserving a cultural identity while embracing growing up in the states.

At Danielle Uwaoma’s house in Clovis her living room is covered with traditional African drums and exotic masks.

Vasilios Sfinarolakis VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

A new study suggests that the Central Valley’s extreme heat is linked with increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports.

A group of scientists say that in recent decades, heat waves in the Central Valley are more severe due to higher humidity and warmer night temperatures.

Roberto Mera with the Union of Concerned Scientists led the study.

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