The second year of open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, is underway. Scott Shafer of KQED’s Newsroom, spoke with State of Health editor Lisa Aliferis about how enrollment is going this year, including an upcoming Supreme Court challenge. They also looked back at the historic rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Editor’s note: For seniors, exercise is an important way to prevent injury and retain independence. But it can be difficult to come up with a routine that works for you. Frank Hernandez of the Central Valley town of Delano solved that problem by turning to rollerblading. He’s now 72 and shows no sign of stopping. We visited the skatepark with Hernandez as part of our community health series Vital Signs.
By Frank Hernandez
When I first started I would rollerblade the skate paths, then I said, “I need more than this.”
I used to look at the X-Games, and I saw the rollerbladers back then in the 90’s, and I said, “Oh, I’m going to do that someday.” Continue reading
By April Dembosky
Public health officials are trying to understand why Latino babies are contracting whooping cough at much higher rates than other babies.
California is battling the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years. Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death.
Six out of 10 infants who have become ill during the current outbreak are Latino. Evidence explaining this is inconclusive, but experts have a few theories that range from a lack of Spanish language outreach to Latino cultural practices. Continue reading
California’s network of 230 school-based health clinics are set to incubate a new education program meant to address the environmental factors that trigger asthma attacks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a $600,000 grant to the Oakland-based Public Health Institute’s Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP) program. RAMP is now set to design a training program for the state’s school-based clinic staff on how to prevent and manage environmental asthma triggers in school, at home and in the community.
Asthma affects 900,000 children in California and seven million children nationwide. The disease causes airways in the lungs to swell and narrow. This makes breathing difficult. Oakland’s network of school-based clinics have been on the forefront of providing asthma education and treatment to its school-aged children, but will now have an added resource to address the environmental risk factors.
Just over 144,000 new people signed up for health insurance on the Covered California marketplace during the first month of open enrollment, officials said Wednesday.
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, noted that the state is now one-third of the way through open enrollment, which ends Feb. 15. At the same point last year, 110,000 people had picked a plan.
Lee said enrollment was going “remarkably smoothly” so far, although there have been “some small glitches along the way.”
Covered California is targeting 1.7 million enrollees for 2015, including renewing 1.2 million current customers and netting half a million new people. Continue reading
A major new study looking at health disparities across the U.S. finds that significant gaps in managing heart disease and diabetes persist — except in Western states, where the gap has been eliminated.
“We were certainly hoping we would see indications of progress in eliminating disparities in the country as a whole,” said lead author Dr. John Ayanian, who heads the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan. He said that while it was “disappointing” that disparities persisted, “it’s also heartening to see that … in the West, the disparities had been eliminated, and that was both surprising and encouraging.” Continue reading
By Jane Meredith Adams, EdSource
California’s enthusiasm for healthy school lunches appears unlikely to change under a Congressional budget bill headed to President Barack Obama for signature that would allow states to weaken new federal school nutrition requirements.
The changes to the regulations for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – part of a $1.1 trillion budget agreement passed on Saturday – are the latest in a heated conflict over the new National School Lunch Program menus, which call for increased servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and reductions in fats and sodium.
The bill would exempt some schools from the requirement that they serve only breads and pastas that are “whole grain rich,” meaning they are at least 50 percent whole grain. To receive an exemption, schools must show evidence of “hardship, including financial hardship” in obtaining 50 percent whole grain foods that are “acceptable to students.” The bill also would keep sodium restrictions at current levels until “the latest scientific research establishes the reduction is beneficial for children.” The language referring to the exemptions begins on page 99 of the lengthy spending bill. Continue reading
By Kenny Goldberg, KPBS
At a recent Covered California forum at San Diego State University, you could have heard a pin drop. There were only three students in the audience.
Still, presenter Jan Spencley went through her entire PowerPoint routine.
Spencley directs the non-profit San Diegans for Healthcare Coverage. She told the students that without health insurance, one accident could saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
And that would ruin their credit.
“You don’t get a phone on your own, you don’t get an apartment on your own, you don’t buy a car on your own if your credit’s messed up,” she told the students. Continue reading
Two women in California are having a baby for the first time. They are both low risk, having uneventful pregnancies. But how they will deliver their baby — whether they’ll have a c-section, for example — depends dramatically on the hospital each woman chooses when she delivers.
The California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Taskforce, or CHART, crunched the numbers and found wide and, frankly, stunning variation in the rates of four common procedures related to delivery and newborn care: c-section, episiotomy, breastfeeding and vaginal birth after c-section.
The Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation created this infographic to illustrate what CHART found: