health care

A new report from Fresno State's Central Valley Health Policy Institute highlights the high incidence of infant mortality in the African-American Community. According to study data, African-American babies in Fresno are three times more likely to die when compared with white infants. Recently on Valley Edition we spoke with Lauren N. Lessard, PhD MPH, a research scientist at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute about the study, and why the numbers have grown in recent years. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A new study from the UCLA Health Policy Institute indicates that the access gap between Medi-Cal recipients and those with private, employer-sponsored coverage continues to grow. And those with Medi-Cal benefits in the Central Valley do even worse, facing even greater challenges in finding and retaining a doctor than those with the same benefits in wealthier parts of the state. 

Valley Fever Cases Down Since Drought Began

Jul 14, 2015
Craig Kohlruss / Just One Breath - Reporting On Health Collaborative / The Fresno Bee

California health experts are surprised that the incidence of Valley Fever has gone down during the drought. The fungal infection is commonly spread in arid, dusty conditions. But, even though the state is drier, the number of cases continues to drop. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg has the story.

Valley Fever peaked in 2011 with more than 5,000 cases in California. Last year there were fewer than half that. Dr. James Watt is the Chief of the Division of Communicable Diseases for the California Department of Public Health.

California HealthCare Foundation

Medi-Cal recipients in California continue to face big challenges when it comes to actually accessing care, especially in the Central Valley. That's the conclusion of a new report by researchers at the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation. 

The study looked at survey data from across the state for both Medi-Cal enrollees and those with private insurance provided through their employers. 

Shana Alex Charles is one of the study's authors.

Audit Finds Problems With Medi-Cal System

Jun 18, 2015
Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

An audit of the department that oversees Medi-Cal found inaccurate health plan information, thousands of unanswered calls and a lack of oversight. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on the report out Tuesday.

The California State Auditor examined how the Department of Health Care Services is monitoring health insurance plans that accept Medi-Cal patients. Of the more than 12 million people enrolled in Medi-Cal, more than 75 percent are enrolled in a health plan.

California Extends Health Care To Undocumented Children

Jun 16, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Beginning next spring 170,000 undocumented kids living in California will be able to sign up for Medi-Cal. Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders allocated an initial $40 million for the program in this year’s budget.

Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara has been pushing for California to offer health care to immigrants living illegally in the state. 

Immigrant Health Care Bill Passes Senate

Jun 2, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Many – but not all – of the people living in California illegally would be able to obtain health insurance under a scaled-back proposal that’s cleared the state Senate. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Democratic Senator Ricardo Lara’s bill is less comprehensive – and less expensive – than previous versions. But, he told senators, this would be a vote they would remember.

Undocumented Health Care Bill Moves Forward In Legislature

May 28, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A bill that would make health care available to undocumented immigrants in California advanced in the state legislature today. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it’s been scaled back from previous versions.

The amended bill pares back a proposal that would have extended Medi-Cal to all eligible undocumented immigrants. Now the measure would cap the number of adult enrollees based on the state budget. It does extend Medi-cal to eligible undocumented children. 

California Budget Proposal Raises Questions Of Vaccine Bill Retaliation

May 28, 2015
Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Assembly Republicans want to know if Legislative Democrats are using their state budget proposals to punish a medical group that opposes California's controversial vaccine bill.

In separate proposals for the fiscal year that starts in July, Senate and Assembly Budget subcommittees voted last week to restore six of the seven optional Medi-Cal benefits that are currently unfunded by the state. There's only one benefit they're not proposing to restore: chiropractic services.

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

A California Senate Committee Monday will consider the financial feasibility of allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain full health coverage. As Capital Public Radio's Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone tells us, Medi-Cal already pays for some health services.

The "Health For All Act" would allow lower-income undocumented immigrants to sign up for full Medi-Cal coverage. It would allow others to buy health insurance completely on their own.

Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Bill Moves Forward

Apr 16, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

The California Legislature has taken a key step toward extending health insurance to more than a million undocumented immigrants. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the bill passed its first committee vote Wednesday.

'Right-To-Die' Proposal Sparks Tears, Impassioned Testimony at California Capitol

Mar 26, 2015

People lined up inside the California Capitol Wednesday to testify during an emotional hearing about the End-of-Life Option Act. As Capital Public Radio's Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone explains, the bill cleared its first committee test.

Terminally-ill Californians would be able to receive prescription medication to hasten their death under the proposal. 

Deborah Ziegler  is Brittany Maynard's mother. Maynard moved to Oregon to obtain a life-ending prescription when she was dying of brain cancer.

New Scrutiny For Brown's Retiree Health Care Proposal As Labor Talks Begin

Mar 18, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

A new report from the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office criticizes California Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed overhaul of state worker retiree health care benefits – just as labor negotiations are getting under way. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento. California faces more than $70 billion in unfunded retiree health care for state workers – and the governor says it’s time to act. Here’s Brown in January on NPR. 

California 'Safety-Net' Hospitals at Risk Amidst Health System Changes

Mar 17, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Throughout California, many hospitals that serve mostly low-income patients face financial strains. And as Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento found, changes in the health care system are making the problems even worse.

Safety-net hospitals serve a higher percentage of the uninsured, and low-income patients who have Medi-Cal. Jan Emerson-Shea with the California Hospital Association says these hospitals often don't have enough patients with higher-paying commercial insurance to offset losses.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 A new bill in Sacramento would help provide medical coverage for farm workers. Fm89’s Diana Aguilera explains more about the attempt to provide health care for all.

Assembly Bill 1170 would create a pilot program to pay for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment for farm workers. It would not only cover on-the-job injuries but also other illnesses.

Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) says he introduced the bill because everyone should have access to health care.

California Lawmakers Look At Unequal Access to Health Care

Mar 12, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers spent a large part of Wednesday hearing about ways to make health care equally accessible regardless of race, ability or sexual orientation. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento found, policymakers say solutions will start with better information.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Rob Bonta says eyes may glaze over when the conversation turns to data. But developing different methods of collecting data could reveal problems faced by specific groups of people.

California Doctors, Lawmakers Renew Push for Medi-Cal Rate Increase

Mar 5, 2015

Doctors, insurers, a union and lawmakers are teaming up to push for an increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to providers. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento tells us, the groups are asking for compensation equal to the federal Medicare program.

Lawmakers say they don't just want to reverse the 10 percent reimbursement cut to doctors under Medi-Cal, they want to increase payments to as much as three times what the current rate is for a typical doctor visit. Dr. Luther Cobb is President of the California Medical Association.

Covered California Expects Hundreds of Enrollment Fairs Through The Weekend

Feb 13, 2015

Sunday is the deadline to sign up for a new health insurance plan if you’re buying your own. Covered California says there will be hundreds of enrollment events around the state to give people in-person help. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone dropped in on one this week in Sacramento.

At Highlands High School in North Sacramento, 32 families have trickled in during the first couple of hours of this enrollment event.

New Push To Regulate Medical Marijuana In California

Feb 12, 2015
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

There’s a new push to regulate medical marijuana in California after similar legislation failed at the state Capitol last year. As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the debate centers on how much control cities and counties should have over local marijuana businesses.

California Lawmakers Revisit Proposal To Put Health Advisory on Sodas

Feb 12, 2015
Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers will be taking another look at a proposal that would require warning labels on sugary drinks. As Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento explains, the bill is similar to one that failed last year.

The proposal would mandate health advisories on sodas, sweet teas and energy drinks with 75 calories or more per 12 ounces.

Democratic Senator Bill Monning says the evidence of the link between sugar, obesity and diabetes is "rock solid."

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