Month: February 2010

Oh, Canada. Are they beating us on health care too?

The U.S. wants to be like Canada in hockey some day. Should we also follow them toward single-payer, universal health care? Democrats in the Legislature say yes, and they think the Golden State should lead the way, despite defeats at the polls and in the governor’s office. My New York Times column this week looks at Sen. Mark Leno’s effort to carry the torch passed to him after Sheila Kuehl, the state’s longtime champion of the idea, was forced from office by term limits.

Care for 1 million kids at risk

The California Budget Project has just released a county-by-county analysis showing the regional impact on children’s health care from the proposals in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget. Statewide the cuts would eliminate coverage for more than 1 million kids while forfeiting $1 billion in federal funds now coming to the state.

Fit bodies, fit minds

In Delano, a poor, heavily agricultural, mostly Latino community, the local school district began focusing more on physical fitness about 10 years ago. Since then, they’ve seen fitness improve, but also student behavior and academic performance. Ken Dyar, a physical education teacher who inspired the change, tells the story here.

Health insurers are the latest punching bag

For health insurers doing business in California, this is the worst of times, politically speaking. The national movement toward health reform is coinciding with an election year in which several key California players are running for higher office, and they are all eager to put the industry in the spotlight. Combine that with rising costs (and profits), and you have a recipe for a political free-for-all. It is almost starting to feel as if health insurance is becoming the next tobacco industry — a political pariah for whom polite people simply wouldn’t work.

Budget would cut support for seniors

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget for the coming year has serious implications for California’s low-income seniors.
According to a recent analysis by the UCLA Center for Health Policy, the proposal would dismantle California’s home- and community-based long-term care system. Full implementation of the proposed cuts would likely leave frail, low-income seniors – among the state’s most vulnerable residents – without needed support.

In OC, nearly half of ER visits 'avoidable'

Nearly half of all emergency room visits made in Orange County are avoidable, for conditions that could be treated in a doctor’s office instead, according to a new study by the county’s Health Care Agency. The study also found that 70 percent of ER visits made for infants were avoidable. Patients with private insurance and the elderly had the lowest rates of unnecessary visits to the emergency room.

A pre-emptive strike against state health reform

While Democrats in California and across the country may be fretting about the lack of movement toward health reform in Washington (or Sacramento), at least one Republican seems to think that big changes are coming. State Sen. Tony Strickland of Thousand Oaks has introduced a constitutional amendment that he says would block any attempt to implement “socialized medicine” in California.

More illness, less insurance

Women between the ages of 50 and 64 are more prone than younger women to a wide range of health conditions, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Nearly four in 10 women in this age group will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, while nearly six in 10 are either obese

Governor proposes anti-obesity agenda

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed eight new measures to fight childhood obesity. Among other things, the governor wants to increase access to free water for school children, eliminate sports drinks from the public schools and increase physical activity in after-school programs.

Is Anthem scenario a sign of things to come?

The most interesting number I heard in Anthem-Blue Cross’ testimony Tuesday wasn’t the 39 percent rate increase the company wants to impose on some customers. Or the 700 claims handling violations over the past three years alleged by the insurance commissioner. It was the 25,000 customers that the firm says it has lost from its individual insurance line in California over the past year.

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