Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Max Pringle / Capital Public Radio

California’s health insurance exchange board has taken a step toward adding children’s dental insurance to the health plans it will offer under the Affordable Care Act. Max Pringle reports from Sacramento.

The Covered California board wants to give consumers dental insurance options other than as stand-alone plans. To that end the board has voted unanimously to explore ways to add the coverage to its medical insurance plan by 2015. Elizabeth Landsberg with the Western Center on Law and Poverty says low income parents need a variety of affordable options. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The push to change California law to allow nurse practitioners more independence from doctors suffered a major setback today in an Assembly committee. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more.

The Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection voted down the measure, but the bill’s author says he wants it reconsidered.  Democratic State Senator Ed Hernandez says lifting restrictions on nurses would help meet a new demand for primary care under the Affordable Care Act, especially in areas without enough doctors.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A provision of federal healthcare reform may make it easier for immigrants to deal with language barriers.

Under the Affordable Care Act, California is eligible to receive $270 million to set up an interpreter program for Medi-cal patients.

The state would have to contribute 30 million dollars. The money would fund the program for three years.

Maximus Weikel is with Interpreting for California, which is urging the state to put up its share of the money. He says it would cover common languages, and those that are less well known in the United States.

What does Obamacare mean for you? With the expansion of coverage just months away, we asked Emily Bazar,  senior writer with the California HealthCare Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting at the Annenberg School For Communication and Journalism at USC. She's the author of a regular column called "Ask Emily" which aims to answer questions about the complex and sometimes confusing law, also known as the Affordable Care Act. She joined us on Valley Edition to talk about issues like:

Help! What Can Obamacare Do For Me Now?

Jul 30, 2013

 Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: I am a married, 62-year-old female unable to obtain health insurance. I am retired and financially comfortable and in general good health. My husband is on Medicare/Anthem Blue Cross supplemental, so he is taken care of.

Who can I contact by phone to walk me through the process correctly? I have had several insurance salesmen contact me, and they each tell me something different.

The new health insurance marketplace known as Covered California is getting ready to launch a $240 million dollar marketing and outreach campaign.

The exchange says about a third of that money will go towards TV, radio and digital media advertising.

Dana Howard of Covered California says enrollment counselors and educators will be spreading the word too.

Congressional Task Force to Aid Valley Fever Fight

Jul 24, 2013
Designed by ReportingonHealth.org graphic artist, Claudia Delgado

Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy made another move in his crusade against valley fever Wednesday, announcing the new “Congressional Valley Fever Task Force.”

The panel is comprised of 11 Republicans and three Democrats from California, Arizona and Texas. McCarthy said the group grew out of meetings he’s had throughout the year with Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who will co-chair the task force.

California Department of Insurance

California’s Insurance Commissioner says the Obama administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act means more people will have to buy their own health insurance in a few months. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The Department of Insurance says the vast majority of California’s large companies already offer their employees health coverage. But about one and a half million Californians are in companies with 50 or more workers, and no insurance options.  

According to a new study of mental health throughout the state, the valley has the highest mental illness rate in California. It also is the region with the fewest mental health professionals.

Statewide around 1 in 20 adults suffer from a serious mental illness. Valley counties score even higher. While 5.1 percent of Fresno adults have a serious mental illness, and 5.7 percent of Kern County residents, that number rises to 6.9 percent in Kings County and 7 percent in Madera County.

Covered California Starts Training Health Care 'Educators'

Jul 17, 2013

More than two-thousand Californians are being trained this month to educate people about getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Several dozen people affiliated with labor unions, local government and non-profits filled a room at UC Davis School of Medicine to hear about the federal health care law. 

They’re part of a $37 million effort by Covered California to educate people about the benefits of buying insurance through the new state health insurance marketplace. 

Medi-Cal and Obamacare: More Confusing Twists

Jul 16, 2013

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: If my family of six qualifies for Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act, do we have to sign up for that? Or can we still buy subsidized health care plans through Covered California? … I have real concerns about the quality of care we would get on Medi-Cal. I’m hoping for a positive answer!

A: Sadly, I’m about to disappoint Beth from Modesto and others in her situation.

Private Doctors Provide Personalized Care, For a Price

Jul 15, 2013
Pauline Bartolone / Capital Public Radio

While insurance companies stand to gain millions of new customers next year under the Affordable Care Act, one area of health care is taking a step away from the industry. Private medicine – commonly known as concierge care – is a small but growing trend, with California at its center. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more about how it works at one practice in the Sacramento area.

The N1 Health Center for Functional Medicine sits in an average looking corporate business park. But there’s nothing average about the doctor’s office inside. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 

Lawyers representing inmates at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Fresno County and Avenal State Prison in Kings County filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

The suit is on behalf of black, elderly, and immune-compromised inmates who acquired valley fever since July 2009, while serving time at the two institutions.

The complaint alleges that state and prison officials knew these groups were at high-risk of contracting the serious, potentially fatal form of the disease, but failed to take adequate steps to protect them.

Camarena Health

In less than three months, thousands of California residents will begin enrolling in expanded health coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act. The law is complex and touches almost every part of the health care system. But what does it mean for residents of the San Joaquin Valley? Over the coming months, we’ll explore that question by visiting with patients, doctors, businesses and clinics in the community of Madera. It’s a city that’s home to more than 62,000 people, more than quarter of whom live below the poverty level.

The summer is a slow time for many occupations, but not for people working to make fundamental changes to the health care system. Millions of uninsured Americans are expected to buy coverage through new health insurance marketplaces called exchanges. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone  has more about how neighboring states are trying to achieve the same end by different means. 

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The “Kid Glitch”: Could Your Family Fall Into Obamacare’s Affordability Gap?

Jul 2, 2013

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

In my last column, I tackled your questions about choice. Specifically, I wrote about your options under Obamacare if your employer-sponsored health insurance is too expensive or doesn’t provide access to the doctors or hospitals you prefer.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

All inmates at risk of developing a serious form of valley fever must be removed from two Central California state prisons within the next 90 days. That’s what a U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday, upholding a directive from the federal official in charge of prison health care. The ruling comes over the objections of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which balked at the complexity of the policy. Valley Public Radio’s Rebecca Plevin takes us behind the prison gates to explain how the state and inmates are coping with the problem. 

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Obamacare and Your Choices: Options for Californians Who Don’t Like Their Work-Based Coverage

Jun 18, 2013

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: If my husband’s employer offers health care insurance but it is unaffordable, where does that leave us? Will we qualify for help under Obamacare or will we be out in the cold? We make about $45,000 annually.

A: Apparently, lots of you dislike the health insurance options offered by your employers.

Carrie from the Sacramento suburbs submitted this question, but I’ve received a crush of similar queries from all over the state.

California Department of Health Care Services

California lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown reached a budget agreement this week. The Governor had previously said he had no intention of bringing back services slashed in years past, but a small number of areas won restored funding for next year - dental care was one of them. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento about what that led up to the decision to renew services.

For four years, Karen Wadsack has been struggling to get the dental care she says she needs.

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says Anthem Blue Cross should be left out of the new health insurance marketplace for small businesses next year.

Jones says Anthem’s planned premium rate increase for small employers next month is excessive.

He says the Affordable Care Act requires him to evaluate whether insurers are suitable to participate in the new marketplace.

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