In an early and major step toward implementing the federal health reform bill, about half a million low-income Californians will soon be eligible for benefits that are expected to address their health problems before they reach an emergency room. Single childless adults with incomes up to about $14,500, who up until now have depended largely on emergency rooms for their care, will be moved into the health care system with a basic package of benefits paid for with an increase in federal funding.
Month: June 2011
Last year, the Merced City fire department colored in maps by hand to identify potential fire hazards from owners who don’t clear their property of weeds during the dry season. This year, the department is putting away the colored pencils and starting to gather GIS data. The city of Merced is joining counties across California that use GIS to track properties that don’t meet weed abatement requirements. The maps let fire departments get a jumpstart on intervention when owners don’t act to protect property from the ever-present threat of summer wildfires.
Mariv Tesoro is trying to stay positive. Working as a registered nurse and program director for an Adult Day Health Care Center in Downey, where families bring their elderly relatives for health care and social activities during the workday, Tesoro works to help her patients as they face their inevitable mortality. Working with the sick and the dying, positive thoughts can be hard to come by.
The state budget Democratic lawmakers presented Tuesday relies largely on a newly optimistic revenue projection that assumes California’s economy will return to health with gusto in the coming months. That’s a big assumption, and if it doesn’t pan out, up to $2.6 billion in spending cuts will be automatically triggered early next year. But even if the tax revenue grows as much as the Democrats hope or the spending cuts are implemented, the state will almost certainly face a multi-billion shortfall a year from now.
As surfers cruise on blue-green surf and seagulls perch on the soft sand, it’s hard to see Long Beach as anything other than a picturesque beach town, especially when it’s teaming with summer tourists. But some of the city’s 450,000 residents say that their environment is less than idyllic and that the air they breathe is making them sick.
On a recent afternoon, Keith Woodcocks, Delano’s community development director, drove through the dusty Central Valley streets, passing Mexican restaurants and bungalows draped with pink roses. He pulled over to point out freshly-widened sidewalks and colorful new playgrounds. When he neared the empty field where a Wal-Mart will be built, he paused to explain local sentiments. Even though constructing the big box retailer was controversial, many residents wanted somewhere to buy plentiful, low-cost goods.
Millions of Californians will see smaller aid checks, fewer services and higher costs as painful budget cuts ripple across every corner of the state in the coming weeks.
With reports of elder abuse rising, Napa County is taking the lead in protecting seniors from unscrupulous or predatory caregivers by becoming the first in California to require criminal background checks for home-care aides.
As health insurance premiums continue to escalate, consumer groups and patient advocates are asking the California Legislature to regulate the price of coverage. Yet outspoken opponents — including health insurers, doctors and hospitals — claim that rate regulation may not lower rates and could instead harm the quality of care Californians receive.
Charles Mason Jr. is helping to lead an effort to transform an urban dessert into a verdant oasis.