News on health, wellness and health care

Ezra David Romero

After the City of Fresno rejected a proposed bus ad about the lack of parks in South Fresno last week, the controversy over the issue  has only grown. The ad from the group Building Healthy Communities cited city data that shows North Fresno residents have over four times the amount of park space per capita as those who live south of Shaw Avenue. 

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Most undocumented immigrants throughout the country aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medi-Cal because of their immigration status. But in California there’s a little known provision that allows certain immigrants to obtain full-scope Medi-Cal benefits even if they aren’t here legally.

Until last December, if you were an undocumented resident in Fresno you could get health care through a county program known as MISP. That stopped when the county changed the rules and kicked at least 5,000 undocumented residents out of the program late last year.

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. 

Building Healthy Communities

An ad that a local non-profit group wants to run on city buses is the center of controversy, after Fresno officials say it’s too political. As FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the group wants more parkland in older parts of town.

Valley Public Radio

The fight against valley fever may reach a new milestone. A bill in the state legislature would fund research for this disease in hopes of finding a cure. 

The bill introduced by State Senator Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, would allocate $1 million to fund research into a valley fever vaccine. Valley fever- also known as coccidioidomycosis- cases have increased dramatically over the last decade, including in the Central Valley. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 9,500 cases were reported nationwide in 2013.

Nurse Practitioner Scope Of Practice Bill Passes Senate

May 7, 2015

Nurse practitioners could care for patients and prescribe medications without a doctor’s supervision under a bill that’s passed the California Senate. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

Democratic Senator Ed Hernandez has tried for years to allow more medical professionals to provide primary care, given a significant doctor shortage. This bill would expand what’s called the “scope of practice” of nurse practitioners.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics /

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.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

  Advocates say moving people to the new facility in Bakersfield is raising serious concerns about the risk of exposing immigrants to valley fever. This disease is caused by a fungus that thrives throughout the Central Valley and parts of the Southwest, sending out spores. 

Julia Mass is with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California.

New Heat Regulations Aim To Protect California Workers

Apr 28, 2015

With summer approaching, the state California is implementing new rules to protect outdoor workers. Revised heat safety regulations from Cal-OSHA take effect May 1st. Among the regulations, workers must have easy access to free, cool water. And supervisors and workers must also be trained to recognize and react to signs of heat illness.

Amy Martin is Chief Counsel of Cal-OSHA. She says the rules also require that shade be made available when the temperature reaches 80 degrees, which is five degrees cooler than the previous requirement.

Undocumented Immigrant Health Care Bill Moves Forward

Apr 16, 2015
Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould /

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.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Health advocates are celebrating today as Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a temporary health care program for undocumented residents.

The board voted 3-2 to implement a short-term program to provide limited specialty care for unauthorized immigrants.  

Activist Sandra Celedon-Castro is with Building Healthy Communities.

'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.

Protestant Group Supports Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

Mar 25, 2015

California lawmakers will hear a bill Wednesday that would allow physicians to prescribe medications that would speed the dying process for terminally-ill patients. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, a group of over a million California Protestants says it now supports the bill.

We all face death, some of us more often than others.

Pastor Holmes: Donna how you feeling? Good!

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

It’s been over three months since undocumented residents in Fresno County lost access to a program that provided specialty health care. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, local health advocates rallied Tuesday to support its return.

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote on an agreement with a local company that would have restored at least some access to specialty care for undocumented residents. Instead the board postponed the discussion.

Talking About Death Over Dinner

Mar 24, 2015
Lesley McClurg / Capital Public Radio

The last time you went to a dinner party you probably didn’t talk about death. But, that’s the focus of conversation at a growing number of tables. It’s part of a national movement called “Death Over Dinner.” The goal is talk about important questions before it’s too late. Lesley McClurg joined a recent gathering of friends in San Francisco.

Eric Weinstein and his wife Pia Malaney are hosting five friends for dinner.   

The guests arrive just as the sun is setting on a Sunday evening.

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.

Zara Arboledo / Valley Children's Hospital

Valley Children’s Hospital has opened an outpatient clinic in Bakersfield in an effort to help ease the growing demand for pediatric specialists in Kern County.

The clinic on 34th street opened its doors Monday. 

“We’re able to start seeing patients that would of normally had to travel to Madera a little bit closer to home in Bakersfield,” says Kari Boscacci, the director of Ambulatory Operations.

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.