Author: Tim Moran

Uninsured in the Central Valley eager for health care reform

The Bridge to Reform is a $10 billion program that will transition low-income residents in California to a Medicare-like health coverage before the 2014 federal health care coverage mandate kicks in. That funding could bring much-needed changes, like providing patients with a medical home where they can get preventative care and where their medical histories are kept on file. But cash-strapped counties are worried – will the costs of extending coverage overrun their available funds, even with help from federal dollars?

Finding healthcare in an alphabet soup of acronyms

Many California residents who don’t currently have health coverage will get coverage in 2014 through the federal health reform act. And now a federally-funded state program will get hundreds of thousands of low income adults coverage earlier than that through a program called the California Bridge to Reform. Under that program, patients are put into a Low Income Health Program, or LIHP.

Bridge to reform has Central Valley counties on uncertain ground

California’s Bridge to Reform program will give thousands of medically uninsured Northern San Joaquin Valley adults access to primary care in the next few years. But it will leave tens of thousands still without coverage, and doesn’t address one of the valley’s biggest impediments to health care access – a shortage of primary care and specialty physicians.

Controversy over land use continues behind the scenes

The decades-long public battle between real estate developers and farmland preservationists went on hiatus the past few years as the residential housing market collapsed in the recession. Farm advocates have long fought to save some of the best farmland in the world, as cities in the San Joaquin Valley grow and houses spread over land once covered with
almond orchards and vineyards.

Housing slump gives breathing room to land use debates

Tim Sanchez has learned what many urban dwellers find out when they move into homes on the edge of farming areas: the promise of a bucolic life near open farm fields gives way to the reality of modern industrial farming. Noise, dust, odors, flies, chemical spraying and night operations are as much a part of modern farming as green fields and neat rows of orchard trees. The situation isn’t much fun for the farmer, either. So what’s the solution? The slump in new home sales has allowed some breathing room to think about the issues. Everyone from city zoning officials to animal nutritionists are working on easing urban-rural conflicts.

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.

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