America’s farmers are dying. But it’s not just because they’re aging. In 1978 the average age of the American farmer was 50, today it’s around 58. But there’s another even more troubling issue facing those who grow our food -  farmers taking their own lives.

Advocates Urge 'Vigilance' to Ensure Care for New Medi-Cal Patients

Apr 22, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s Medi-cal program has seen a huge surge in enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento about what those patients can expect when they try to see a doctor. 

California officials say they’re pleased to see 1.9 million have signed up under the Medi-Cal expansion.  

Toby Douglas: “1.9 million is far more than we ever projected, and there are even more that we’re working to get on as quickly as possible.”

'Bumpy' California Enrollment Period Ends With Over 3 Million Health Care Sign-Ups

Apr 17, 2014

California health officials say the open enrollment period for insurance has been ‘bumpy’ but it has ended with more than 3 million people signed up for coverage. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

About 1.9 million Californians have new Medi-Cal coverage, and just under 1.5 have signed up for private insurance.

Among the people with private plans, about half had insurance agents or enrollment counselors sign them up. Peter Lee of Covered California says that’s something to keep in mind for the next enrollment period.

California Lawmakers Consider Medical Interpreters Program For Second Time

Apr 8, 2014
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

For the second time in a year, California lawmakers will consider a bill that would create a medical interpreters program. As Capital Public Radio’s Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone reports, the bill’s backers say circumstances are different this time.    

This year’s bill is essentially the same as last year’s. The state would pay interpreters to help Medi-Cal patients who have limited English skills to understand their health care.

Will Shuck with the California Assembly Speaker’s office says what’s different this year is the timing.

Deadline Sparks Surge in Covered California Applications

Apr 1, 2014
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California’s health insurance exchange says it’s received a surge of last-minute enrollments ahead of Monday’s midnight application deadline.  Enrollment events popped up across the state as the Covered California call center reported waits of more than an hour in the final days.  Ben Adler reports from one such event in Sacramento.

A room full of people waited up to 45 minutes at a Sacramento union hall to sign up for the Covered California health care exchange on the final day of open enrollment.  Union organizers called it a 17-hour “enroll-a-thon.”

Faith Groups Help With Final Health Insurance Sign-Up Efforts

Mar 27, 2014

Faith groups are stepping up to help enroll people in health insurance in the final days of open enrollment this week. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Covered California says religious organizations have been good partners all along, but now they’re making a concerted push.

Dana Howard: “From the mega churches to the mega temples, we have really good response going on… in the Southern California area especially.”

A new ranking of health outcomes in California counties has grim news for San Joaquin Valley residents. Out of California's 60 counties, all six San Joaquin Valley counties  in the bottom third of the state. Fresno County ranked 46th, Tulare 49th and Kern 54th. 

Counties in the Bay Area led the survey, with Marin, San Mateo and Santa Clara occupying three of the top five spots.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

With just 10 days left before the Covered California enrollment deadline, farm labor activist Dolores Huerta took her message to students at Fresno State today. As FM89's Joe Moore reports, it's part of a last minute push to boost enrollment figures among Latinos and young people. 

Speaking to a class of students at Fresno State today, UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta invoked memories of the civil rights movement to help spur young Latinos to sign up for health insurance.

Anil Verma Associates / Fresno FAX

The Fresno City Council is set to debate a proposal tonight to bring a hi-tech express bus line to city. But as FM89’s Joe Moore reports, the $50 million federal grant that would fund the project is generating some controversy.

The proposal calls for new high capacity express bus service, known as Bus Rapid Transit, to be built along Blackstone and Kings Canyon Avenues in Fresno. The new bus line would replace existing FAX service on those routes and would decrease travel time for riders by as much as an hour and a half in some cases.

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.

K. West / California National Primate Research Center

A new study suggests that exposure to wildfire smoke can result in reduced immune system function. The study, funded by the California Air Resources board, looked at primates which were exposed to unusually high levels of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 for 10 days in 2008, during a number of wildfires.

California Medical Device Makers Have Mixed Views on Obamacare Tax

Dec 24, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is a place where medical device makers can thrive. The industry says employment in the sector is growing, and companies here benefit from almost half the biomedical venture capital dollars nationwide. This year, some medical device businesses have faced a new tax under the Affordable Care Act. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento says the industry has a mixed reaction.

No one likes to be taxed. For many small businesses, the added costs can be especially unwelcome.

No Deadline Extension, Says Covered California

Dec 23, 2013

California’s health care exchange is NOT extending the same one-day enrollment grace period as the White House is for the federal exchange.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, that means the deadline for Californians to apply for health insurance that takes effect January 1st remains tonight at midnight.

Community Hospitals/ UCSF Fresno

Supervisor Henry Perea says that Fresno County’s decades-long contract with a local hospital to provide medical care to indigent patients could soon come to end.

“I think in the very near future, we just may be ending the contract with Community Hospitals, and going a different direction on the health care piece of it,” says Perea.

Perea was speaking on Valley Public Radio’s Valley Edition. 

California Health Insurers Restrict Doctor Choice To Lower Costs

Dec 13, 2013
Pauline Bartolone / Capital Public Radio

As Californians shop for new insurance under the federal health law next year, they’re faced with many choices for health plans at different prices. But the plans they choose also come with different combinations of doctors and hospitals. And as Health Care reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us, some people are confused and frustrated by the new conditions.  

Californians with Food Stamps to Get 'Fast Tracked' to Health Care

Dec 4, 2013

The state of California says as many as 600,000 people who receive food stamps could be fast-tracked into Medi-Cal next year if the federal government approves.  Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says people on the CalFresh program have the same income as people who qualify for expanded Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act next year.

Rene Mollow of the California Department of Health Care Services says it will offer food stamp recipients a way to sign up for free health care without filling out another application.

Covered California Votes to Keep Original Policy Cancelation Deadline

Nov 21, 2013

The Covered California board of directors voted today [Thursday] not to allow health insurers to renew canceled policies that don’t meet new standards under the Affordable Care Act.

The decision comes after President Obama’s recent suggestion that insurers be allowed to decide whether they want to extend the policies for a year.

The exchange’s executive director, Peter Lee, raised concerns about pushing back the cancelations for a few months or up to a year.

Despite Obama's Proposal, California Health Insurers Want to 'Stay the Course'

Nov 14, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California health insurers don’t like President Obama’s proposal to allow people to stay on health plans that don’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act next year. But as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us, the state’s Insurance Commissioner supports the President. 

California Stands Out In New Obamacare Numbers

Nov 14, 2013

Both California and the federal government have released numbers about people applying for health coverage next year. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, California stands out from the rest of the states.

The federal government’s numbers show more than 35,000 Californians have picked a health plan through the state-run exchange as of November 2nd.

But Peter Lee of Covered California says the total is almost twice that if you count the latest numbers.

Initiative Would Raise Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages

Nov 11, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California’s high-stakes battle over medical malpractice damages could move to the ballot box next year.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the initiative campaign seeking to increase the cap on “pain and suffering” awards will pit trial lawyers against doctors.