Month: April 2011

Police Chiefs Discover ZIP Codes Can Predict More Than Health

Public health expert Dr. Anthony Iton says that if you give him your address, he can tell you how long you’re likely to live. His prediction isn’t based simply on homicide rates or disease prevalence. It’s based on the stress of living in neighborhoods that aren’t safe, where, for instance, children avoid playgrounds for fear of stray bullets and adults stay home at night for fear of being assaulted.

Patient Baldemar Sanchez is examined for mouth blisters by Dr. Suchitra Rao at the Golden Valley Health Center in Merced. A Spanish translator helped Sanchez communicate with Rao

Changing population may challenge healthcare services

Merced County, like the rest of California, is home to a growing population of ethnic minorities. The county also offers a glimpse into the future, a window onto how healthcare services might need to change to address the needs of a changing community.

Legacy LA Links Dreams with Leadership in Boyle Heights: A Conversation with Lou Calanche

Maria “Lou” Calanche believes in dreams. But Calanche, a community activist since her teens, knows that residents of the Ramona Gardens housing project need leadership skills to turn their dreams into reality. As Executive Director of the Boyle Heights non-profit Legacy LA, she works with parents and at-risk teens to find alternatives to the gangs, violence and drug addiction that perpetuate the cycle of incarceration, teen pregnancy and low graduation rates.

smael Morales, director of health services at the Center Long Beach, which serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. For now, the Center has survived state cuts to HIV and AIDS prevention and testing funding after receiving a three-year, $300,000 grant in 2009.

HIV prevention efforts a struggle after budget cuts

Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, state funding for HIV and AIDS programs was cut by more than half, $85 million, in the 2009-10 fiscal year. That included the entire budget for HIV prevention and testing, though about $12 million in federal funds was still available. That trend has continued since then, and no state funding for prevention and testing is proposed in the next fiscal year either under Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget as California continues to face a financial meltdown.

New style of nursing home stalled in California

A new model for a more human-scaled nursing home that is taking hold across the country has been stymied so far in California, in part because regulations written with big institutions in mind do not work for smaller facilities run in a unique way.

Can health insurance exchange, regulation co-exist?

Today the California Assembly Health Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would allow state regulators to reject health insurance rate increases deemed excessive or discriminatory. This hearing will come just six days after the first board meeting of the California Health Benefit Exchange. Many hope that the Exchange will take the lead in holding insurance rate increases down through actively negotiating with insurers. Can active negotiation work in tandem with rate regulation?

Advocates, experts question proposed changes to Megan’s Law

Legislation passed by the Assembly’s public safety committee would allow counties to send email alerts notifying residents when a convicted sex offender moves into the neighborhood. Residents who sign up for the service would get messages with the name, photo, offense and address of local registered sex offenders delivered directly into their inboxes. But some victim advocates and treatment providers worry that notification doesn’t improve public safety, and may have the unintended consequence of making communities less safe.

Corporate tax burden shrinking in state

As the economy has expanded and contracted over the past three decades, Californians have slowly, but steadily, paid more in personal income taxes to support state government. Corporations, however, are another story. While individuals have watched their tax burden rise, corporations have seen their effective tax rate plummet even as California-based companies like Chevron, Google and Apple have posted record profits. This disparity has reinforced the state’s reliance on personal income tax and contributed to California’s chronic budget deficit.

Special funds run surpluses amid general fund deficit

California’s perpetual budget battles center around the $85 billion “general fund” used to pay for schools, prisons and health welfare services. But separately there are more than 400 little-noticed accounts called “special funds” that together will spend nearly $30.5 billion in 2010-11, according to Department of Finance records.

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