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 Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition KVPR Reporter Diana Aguilera interviews a Fresno teenager about the lack of sex education in Fresno Unified schools. Later in the program Valley Edition Host Joe Moore speaks with Shana Alex Charles with the UCLA Center For Healthy Policy Research and the California HealthCare Foundation about gaps in care for Valley Medi-Cal recipients

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 /

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. 

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.

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.

Health In An Age Of Change: State Health Czar Diana Dooley Reflects On The ACA's Impact

Dec 8, 2014

Diana Dooley, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, oversees 13 departments and supervises the state’s rollout of the federal Affordable Care Act, including Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace, and the Medi-Cal program for the poor. Gov. Jerry Brown appointed her in late 2010. A native of Hanford, she earlier served as president and CEO of the California Children’s Hospital Assn. She worked for Brown during his first administration.

Health Reform In California: A State Of Accelerating Change

Dec 8, 2014
Lauren M. Whaley / CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Gail Fulbeck, 64, relies on her body for work. She hauls soda, energy drinks, snacks and water to the 23 vending machines she owns around downtown Sacramento.

The physical demands of her job, coupled with her husband’s history of migraines and bad knees, make health insurance essential.

Last year, Fulbeck and her husband paid a monthly insurance premium of $2,555.

Starting Jan. 1 of this year, the couple’s premium for a nearly identical plan totaled $165. It was, she said, almost unbelievable.

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

Immigrant advocates say more undocumented Californians could receive health care as a result of President Barack Obama’s recent executive action. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

California already allows some undocumented immigrants to enroll in Medi-Cal if they’ve qualified for deportation relief. Anthony Wright is Executive Director of the consumer advocacy group Health Access California. He says the president's executive action will expand the pool of Medi-Cal eligible immigrants.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at innovation at Castle Air Force Base in Merced County, learn about the medical backlog in Fresno County, talk with writer James Fallows and Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian about California High Speed Rail, and speak with NPR's

California’s poor continue to face month long waits in getting state health coverage. FM 89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a young couple in Fresno County is dealing with the backlog.

Paola Martinez and her husband Irving Toscano thought they had done everything right to get health care coverage.

They made sure they met the Medi-Cal eligibility requirements, they filled out the paperwork and signed up through the Covered California website at the end of March.

But ever since then, they’ve been waiting.

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.”

Fresno County Seeks to Eliminate Health Safety Net for the Undocumented

Feb 25, 2014
Farida Jhabvala Romero / Radio Bilingue - Reporting on Health Collaborative

Natividad, an undocumented farm worker in California’s San Joaquin Valley, lives with her children and three other families in a cramped house in the city of Fresno. Only her first name is being used because of her immigration status.

Natividad can’t read or write, and speaks only Mixtec, an indigenous language from Southern Mexico. She has diabetes and high blood pressure, and when she feels very sick, she heads to the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. She always carries a written note that asks for an interpreter.

Downtown Fresno Partnership

This week on Valley Edition we discuss President Obama's visit to Central California, Medi-Cal expansion in Fresno County and a silent film series in Fresno’s historic Warnors Theatre.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

In a cramped cubicle in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Fresno County, Neng Yang is playing a small role in the country’s healthcare overhaul. On this afternoon, she’s helping a Hmong woman enroll in Medi-Cal.

“She prefers English, so her kids can read to her, because she doesn’t read and write in Hmong, and sometimes the translation gets lost when it’s sent to her in Hmong,” says Yang, a certified enrollment counselor at Fresno Center for New Americans.

Hospitals in California are commending the state’s decision to prevent Medi-Cal rate cuts to rural hospitals with nursing facilities. Some of them have been at risk of closure. 

Republican State Assemblymember Brian Dahle says these medical providers are main employers in communities he represents in Northern California.

“We have folks who travel a long ways to those hospitals. And if we lose those hospitals we’re going to lose tour communities. And it would be hundreds of miles to get to the next facility so that’s very critical for our areas,” says Dahle.

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.

The California state budget deal reached this week includes some restored funding for dental care for the poor, and millions of dollars for mental health services. And as Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, county and state officials are finalizing the details of how local governments will use health care money.  

After months of negotiations, the Brown administration and county representatives have struck a deal - the state can redirect some money away from county health programs, but the counties will have some choice in how that’s done.   

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.