Our Impact

Nakenya Allen and her son Landon were featured in a story we did on families who are fighting racism and disability discrimination. Photo by Martin do Nascimento / Resolve Magazine

Our stories win awards, shift conversations, change laws and policies, and highlight communities that are striving for social justice. 

We care about the people behind our stories. We want to make life better for the communities we cover. That’s what we strive for with each story, and the details below demonstrate the breadth of our impact.

Awards: 

  • 2020 LION Award for Investigative Report of the Year for our story on how California counties are leaving millions of federal dollars for mental health programs on the table, contributing to discrepancies in mental health funding across the state.
  • Finalist for 2020 LION Award for Coronavirus Coverage for our reporting on low-wage workers during the pandemic
  • Finalist for 2020 LION Award for Best Solutions Project of the Year for our story on housing solutions for domestic violence survivors
  • Finalist for 2020 LION Award for Best Coverage for Underserved Communities for our reports on Californians who are are immigrants, foster youth and children with disabilities

Collaborations:

Marc Philpart, with the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color at PolicyLink, was featured in a story we did in 2020 on alternatives to calling the police for domestic violence survivors. Photo by Martin do Nascimento / Resolve Magazine

Publication partners include:

  • Bay Area News Group (The Mercury News, East Bay Times and Marin Independent Journal)
  • Center for Public Integrity
  • Columbia Journalism Investigations
  • Disability Scoop
  • El Observador (Spanish language)
  • The Imprint
  • In These Times
  • The Mighty
  • Public News Service (radio)
  • Resolve Magazine
  • ReWire
  • Ventura County Star
  • Witness LA
  • YES! Magazine

Integrity:

  • We’re non-partisan, grant-funded and editorially independent. 
  • The New York Times lists California Health Report as a trusted California news outlet
  • We are a member of the Institute for Nonprofit News and LION Publishers
Melissa Alcala was featured in a 2020 story about how parents caring for children with disabilities are coping during COVID-19. Photo by Martin do Nascimento / Resolve Magazine

Examples of our impact:

  • California Law Forbids Abusers to Own Guns, but Police Lack Resources to Take Them Away: In June 2018, we wrote about how those convicted of domestic violence often end up keeping their firearms, because of a lack of resources at local police departments. In September 2018, state legislators approved Assembly Bill 3129, which would enact a lifetime bans on owning guns for people convicted of domestic violence. The bill is now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Legislators also approved eight other gun control bills over the summer of 2018, as reported by the LA Times
  • Immigrant Community Pushes Back Against Fossil-Fuel Polluting Power Plant: In late January 2017, we wrote about how Oxnard’s largely Latino, immigrant and working-class community was fighting a proposal to build a fourth power plant in the city. Less than two weeks after our story was published, a Los Angeles Times investigation found that California had an oversupply of power plants and three state lawmakers urged the Energy Commission to reevaluate the Oxnard project, citing social justice concerns, such as those mentioned in our story. In June, state regulators approved a study to examine clean alternatives to the natural gas plant. By September, state legislators had introduced three clean-energy bills. In 2018, the energy company announced that it would withdraw the proposal to build the power plant. The energy company, NRG, is in the process of shutting down its old power plants on the Oxnard coast. Also, a new state law now requires the Coastal Commission to consider the environmental impacts on vulnerable communities when making decisions. 
  • Bill Proposes Caps on How Long Mentally Incompetent Youth Spend in Juvenile Hall: In August 2017, we wrote about how youth with mental illnesses are sometimes detailed in juvenile hall interminably, without proper care or attention. Assemblyman Mark Stone proposed a bill that would make the rules for young people who are mentally incompetent to stand trial the same as those for adults. Stone told us that about 300 of the estimated 7,000 wards now in the California juvenile justice system are suffering from mental incompetency and aren’t getting the help they need. An August 2018 Mother Jones article, which cited this statistic and linked to our story, reports that Stone has a new compromise bill out that the legislature is considering, after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the 2017 bill.
  • Advocates Urge the State to Gather More Data on Children in Medi-Cal: In August 2015, we wrote about how California children’s advocates were asking the state Department of Health Care Services to provide more reporting on children in Medi-Cal, in the hopes that better data can spotlight areas where children aren’t getting adequate health care. Although more than half of California’s children are enrolled in the state’s low-income health program, the state does not report how many of them are born at a low birth weight, receive a developmental screening in their first three years of life or have a suicide-risk assessment if they have a major depressive disorder. These are just a few of the indicators that the federal government uses to assess the quality of the Medi-Cal program, which cost the state about $18 billion in 2015. In 2016, DHCS agreed to do a focus study to look at how many children received regular developmental screenings and released that data in a 2017 report. In January 2018, Assembly Bill 11, which would require children with Medi-Cal to receive regular developmental screenings, unanimously passed out of both houses and is now on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. According to an April 2019 DHCS email, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested that DHCS and health plans collaborate to increase commitment to early childhood development. Newsom directed DHCS to review its internal health care service plan data related to all pediatric measures and identify areas that require improvement. DHCS determined that changes were needed to strengthen quality oversight, including expanding the reporting indicators to include all CMS Child and Adult Core Set measures for calendar year 2019 (reporting year 2020), increasing the required performance benchmark from the 25th to the 50th percentile nationally, and expanding the health disparities report and identifying areas of improvement. The agency is working on an implementation timeline. 
  • Huge Increase in Cases Handled by Medi-Cal Complaint Office This Year: In August 2014, we broke the news that the California Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Medi-Cal, had seen an 82 percent increase in complaint cases that year. We also reported that the Ombudsman office, which handles the complaints, didn’t track how many phone calls or emails it missed due to people hanging up from being on hold or otherwise attempting to contact the Ombudsman officials. The office also didn’t track how many people have called or emailed multiple times seeking help or record how long it took cases to be resolved. Our reporting helped spur a state audit, and in June 2015, the California State Auditor found that Ombudsman office had a telephone system that couldn’t handle the volume of calls it received and there weren’t enough staff members to answer all the calls the system did accept. In September 2015, the Ombudsman office upgraded its phone system said it will improve data collection. In July 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 97, which requires the ombudsman office to to release quarterly reports with data from calls and emails. DHCS appears to be complying with the new legislation, and in it’s the most recent report, released in early 2018, said that call wait times average 6 minutes.
  • State Agency Running Medi-Cal Didn’t Know How Many Docs Took its Insurance: In July 2014 we discovered through a public records request that the California agency that oversees the state’s low-income health plan vastly overstated the number of doctors who accepted patients through the program in 2013, even as the number of people enrolled was set to skyrocket under the federal Affordable Care Act. The state’s Medi-Cal provider list had more physicians than were even licensed to practice in California in 2013. The accuracy of the list is important because it is one of the tools the state can use to determine if there are enough doctors to serve those in Medi-Cal. When questioned, the Department of Health Care Services admitted that the list had some duplicated names and may have also included doctors who were deceased or retired. The agency said it was in the process of improving its provider list. We continue to follow this issue. 
  • Directories of Doctors Who Treat the Poor Are Inaccurate, Hurting Access: In June 2014, after a months-long investigation, we discovered that directories of doctors given to low-income patients across California were highly inaccurate, making it difficult for them to get the health care they’re entitled to under state law. Our investigation spurred a state audit–which backed up our reporting–and led to a California law that now requires insurers to update their lists of doctors weekly. A California State Auditor’s report released in March 2019 found that millions of California children with Medi-Cal are not receiving preventative health services, backing up this reporting and a number of our other stories in recent years. 
  • Drug Labels Aren’t Always Translated, Leading to Dangerous Errors: In June 2014, we wrote about how many pharmacies in California did not provide translated instructions with prescriptions for people who don’t speak English. This was despite the fact that 44 percent of the state’s population spoke a language other than English at home, according to census data at the time. Our reporting helped spur a state law, approved by the legislature and governor in 2015, that now requires pharmacists, upon request, to provide medication instructions in Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean, the most common languages in California after English.
  •  Mothers battling insurers for breast pumps, despite new law: In April 2013, we wrote about how a number of California nursing mothers had had their requests for a breast pump denied by their insurance companies that year, a violation of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to provide new mothers with a breast pump, but because the law was so new and insurers were unclear about how to implement it, they had begun creating their own policies, with some providing high-end electric pumps to all women who asked and others denying requests or offering only manual pumps to women in the first 30 days postpartum on a rental basis. Within the next two years, insurers began to provide breast pumps more widely for nursing mothers. 

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