health

Health Reform In California: A State Of Accelerating Change

Dec 8, 2014
Lauren M. Whaley / CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Gail Fulbeck, 64, relies on her body for work. She hauls soda, energy drinks, snacks and water to the 23 vending machines she owns around downtown Sacramento.

The physical demands of her job, coupled with her husband’s history of migraines and bad knees, make health insurance essential.

Last year, Fulbeck and her husband paid a monthly insurance premium of $2,555.

Starting Jan. 1 of this year, the couple’s premium for a nearly identical plan totaled $165. It was, she said, almost unbelievable.

Covered California Attempting To Calm Immigrants' Fears

Dec 3, 2014

Covered California is trying to reassure immigrant communities their information will not be turned over to immigration authorities if they sign up for health insurance.

Only documented immigrants are eligible for California’s health insurance exchange. But Executive Director Peter Lee says the fear of deportation still prevents some from using the service.   

Fresno County

It's still illegal to grow marijuana in Fresno County. The Board of Supervisors entertained the possibility of lifting the outright ban on cultivation during their meeting today but instead decided to retain the county's zero tolerance policy.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Immigrant advocates say more undocumented Californians could receive health care as a result of President Barack Obama’s recent executive action. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

California already allows some undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal if they’ve qualified for deportation relief. Anthony Wright is Executive Director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access California. He says the president's executive action will expand the pool of Medi-Cal eligible immigrants.

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.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Earlier this year eight Kern County families were forced out of their homes because of a gas leak. Now, seven months later families are still asking questions about their health and when they can return to their neighborhood.

When Yesenia Lara bought her home three years ago she never imagined living there would eventually bring so much anger and sadness to her family.

"This is my house, esta es mi casa. Excuse the mess but I hardly come here."

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.  

California Hospitals Preparing For Potential Ebola

Oct 9, 2014
US Centers For Disease Control

There have not been any diagnosed cases of Ebola in California. But hospitals are preparing, just in case. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Emergency rooms in California are now asking for travel histories from patients. The change follows the case of a man in Dallas who contracted the Ebola virus in Africa and then flew to the United States. 

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. 

Fresno County

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sunday in an effort to help Fresno County continue to provide health care services for the indigent and undocumented population. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, comes several weeks after the county voted to eliminate a health safety net for undocumented immigrants.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

The Central Valley has struggled with a long list of health care issues for decades. Now with the opening of the Valley’s first and only pharmacy school in Clovis just weeks ago. Instructors and students hope to make a dent in the problem and attract more health care professionals to the region. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera explains how one young man plans to help by giving back to the community he calls home.

Meet 25-year-old Jose Vera. Ever since Vera was young there was one thing that always sparked his imagination.

400,000 Medi-Cal Applicants Still Waiting for Coverage

Aug 20, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The state of California says about 400,000 applicants to the Medi-Cal program are still waiting for their coverage. Administrators say they’ve made a lot of progress on the backlog in recent weeks. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us from Sacramento, consumer advocates say the state could be doing more to get people coverage faster.  

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This story is part of a Valley Public Radio original series on how the health of rivers impact the health of communities produced as a project for The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship, a program of USC's Annenberg School of Journalism.

Fresno Among Worst California Counties For Whooping Cough Rates

Jul 24, 2014
Fresno County

Some California counties are showing substantially higher rates of whooping cough than the state average. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento was told, the epidemic this year could be one of the worst in fifty years.

Marin, Humboldt, Sonoma and Fresno counties have some of the highest rates of pertussis. Whooping cough surges every three to five years, but Dr. Dean Blumberg of the UC Davis Health System says this year is terrible.

California’s poor continue to face month long waits in getting state health coverage. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a young couple in Fresno County is dealing with the backlog.

Paola Martinez and her husband Irving Toscano thought they had done everything right to get health care coverage.

They made sure they met the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements, they filled out the paperwork and signed up through the Covered California website at the end of March.

But ever since then, they’ve been waiting.

Contentious Health Bills Await California Lawmakers Upon Return

Jul 7, 2014
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

California lawmakers have left Sacramento for the month of July. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento tells us, when they return, they’ll consider health care measures supported by consumer advocates and opposed by insurance companies.

Over the years health officials have raised concerns over exposure to pesticides. But now a new report from UC Davis suggests it could be an even bigger concern for pregnant women.

A new study reveals that pregnant women who live near areas where pesticides are used are more likely to have a child with autism.

Audit Finds That California Prisoners Were Illegally Sterilized

Jun 21, 2014
CDCR

A California State Audit has found that dozens of women in state prisons were sterilized illegally. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone says prison medical officials are faulted for not following consent laws.  

Lawmakers called for the audit after coverage from the Center for Investigative Reporting last year. The Center found more than 100 incarcerated women had tubal ligations without proper approvals since 2006.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

New research this week questions the connection between air pollution and asthma.

In 2011, a study by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District established a link between asthma-related ER visits and levels of PM2.5, or fine particulate matter in valley air.  But after a follow-up to that study, the Air District now reports that for a number of years, asthma-related ER visits increased even as PM2.5 levels dropped.

David Lighthall, health science advisor to the Air District, says the findings should not be interpreted as black and white.

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