Health

News on health, wellness and health care

Workplace Wellness Takes Off, Using Money As a Motivator

Jun 3, 2013
Capital Public Radio

The demands of the workplace and home life can make it hard to find time to be physically active. Many employers are incorporating healthy activities into the workplace, often using money as a motivator. But as Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, the trend comes with concerns about who’s paying more for health care.

Susan Southard walks 10 miles a week without taking her eyes off a computer screen.

“The maximum speed is two miles. So I’ll do the maximum,” says Southard.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

One of the biggest unresolved issues in California budget negotiations is what to do with more than $1 billion counties currently spend on health care for the poor.  Governor Jerry Brown says counties won’t need that money once the new federal health law kicks in next year.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the counties disagree.

New Data Show A Decline In Reported Cases of Valley Fever

May 28, 2013
The Californian

California’s tally of valley fever cases dropped by more than 1,000 last year and some counties have also seen fewer cases in the early months of 2013.

But public health officials say it’s too early to identify long-term trends in the numbers.

California’s new health insurance exchange has announced what plans and prices may look like for millions of people who will be buying individual coverage next year. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more about what the changes may mean for people already in the market.  

Some people may pay the same rate for a health insurance policy next year. But, Janice Rocco from the California Department of Insurance says many people will see a premium increase, with added benefits and fewer other costs. 

Details of California’s new health insurance exchange were announced today. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, about five million people are eligible to get covered through the exchange.

California is opening the exchange to comply with federal healthcare reform. Thirteen insurance agencies will offer a variety of plans. While some plans will be available throughout the state, others will be targeted to specific regions.

Depending on where they practice, doctors in different parts of California are more likely to recommend certain procedures. It’s a phenomenon called “variance.” A study from The California Healthcare Foundation shows it’s a consideration both patients and physicians should be aware of. The Foundation’s Maribeth Shannon says doctors might not realize what they’re doing.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

The quest for the perfect pinot noir lured Todd and Tammy Schaefer from Malibu to Paso Robles in 2001. But a different fate awaited them and their business, called Pacific Coast Vineyards.

“My wife and I had just come up here, to set up shop and continue our practice of winemaking, and, ‘Welcome to Paso Robles, here’s valley fever,’” Todd recounts.

In October of 2003, Todd was running a bulldozer through a vineyard, and kicking up lots of dust. They had no idea that dust would make him ill.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 California Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal shows clear intent for a state-based Medi-Cal expansion under the Affordable Care Act. January’s budget suggested a possible county-led expansion.  

California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley says the budget also proposes a way the state will seek to capture money counties currently use to treat the uninsured.   

Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are considering a measure that would tax sugary drinks a penny per fluid ounce. The proposal is intended to cap soda consumption in order to reduce obesity rates. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has found a range of opinions on the soda tax.

It’s a hot afternoon in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Teenagers are out of school for the day. Some have beverages in their hands. Kirk Allen is sixteen years old:

"What are you drinkin’?" "Tiki punch, Shasta."

CA Dept of Corrections

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court yesterday, the state Attorney General raised questions about the federal order to exclude inmates especially vulnerable to valley fever from two Central Valley prisons.

“The receiver is calling for the transferring, he described it last week as ‘effective immediately,’ of over 3,000 inmates from those two prisons,” says Jeffrey Callison, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “That’s a huge, complex undertaking. Could it happen? Of course it could happen, but it would take a long time to implement.”

On Monday afternoon, the federal receiver in charge of health care in California’s prisons ordered the state prison to remove inmates from two Central Valley prisons who are especially at risk of contracting valley fever.  A day later, the state and experts are digesting that directive. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports, as part of the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s investigation into the disease.

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Casey Christie / The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

The federal receiver in charge of health care in California’s prisons is ordering the state to remove inmates from two Central Valley prisons who are especially at risk of contracting the fungal disease known as valley fever. The move affects about 40 percent of the inmate population at Avenal and Pleasant Valley State Prisons. 

Those affected include African Americans, Filipinos, inmates who are HIV positive, have compromised immune systems, or are pregnant or elderly.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in California have a shortage of primary care doctors. And with millions more people in the state expected to get health coverage next year, lawmakers are proposing ways to make sure basic care is available in areas that need it. One bill would allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without consulting a physician. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on what it might mean for patients.

Some nurse practitioners in California already see patients without a doctor in the room. Patients like Anastacia Casperson.

Shelby Mack / The Bakersfield Californian

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will visit the San Joaquin Valley later this year to train public health professionals and the public in recognizing and defending against valley fever, Congressman Kevin McCarthy said Monday after an in-depth meeting with the agency and its director.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

When Mailu Lor translates for a Hmong patient, she can’t just repeat the doctor’s orders, word for word. That’s because the Hmong language often doesn’t contain advanced medical terminology, or names for diseases, like diabetes.

“Hmong language is a very difficult language,” Lor said. “We don’t have any dictionary for medical terminology.”

Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would impose a tax on soda in California goes before lawmakers in Sacramento this week. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone says a similar measure failed last session.

The state-wide law would tax sugary drinks such as sodas, energy drinks and sweet teas one cent per fluid ounce. Democratic Senator Bill Monning says something must be done to curb alarming rates of obesity and preventable diabetes.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Starting next year, millions of people will gain new health coverage under the federal health law.  In California, dozens of clinics are gearing up for the expansion, with new funding to build clinics and expand old ones.  But as Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, it may be a challenge to find the physicians to staff the new centers.

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

California physicians and lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a shortage of doctors in the state. They made the point jointly in Sacramento Tuesday. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, they agree more doctors will be needed to see millions of people who will start enrolling in coverage next year.   

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Below a Highway 99 overpass, and sandwiched between the D Street homeless shelter and the railroad tracks, is an unlikely beacon of hope for Merced residents low on luck. It’s an RV that houses Golden Valley Health Center’s mobile health clinic for the homeless.

Nick Arellano, 55, has come to the mobile unit to see Dr. Salvador Sandoval, the homeless clinic’s doctor. Arellano has long hair and blue eyes that shine from his weathered face.

“How are you doing?” Sandoval asks.

http://www.dds.ca.gov/Porterville/Index.cfm

The steps to the State Capitol were crowded with people Thursday who wanted lawmakers to hear one message: Close down state-run residential centers for the disabled. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.   

People with disabilities shared stories about abuse at the state’s developmental centers. Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated. Jaquie Dillard–Foss from the organization “StrategiesTo Empower People” has helped people make the transition from developmental centers back into communities.

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