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State Agency Running Medi-Cal Didn’t Know How Many Docs Took its Insurance

July 17, 2014

State Agency Running Medi-Cal Didn’t Know How Many Docs Took its Insurance

By Hannah Guzik

The California agency that oversees the state’s low-income health plan vastly overstated the number of doctors who accepted patients through the program last year, even as the number of people enrolled was set to skyrocket under the federal Affordable Care Act, the California Health Report has found.

The state’s Medi-Cal provider list had more physicians than were even licensed to practice in California last year.

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Denti-Cal Patients Feel the Pain as Rates Shrink

July 16, 2014

Denti-Cal Patients Feel the Pain as Rates Shrink

By Pamela K. Johnson

A few years ago, Kathleen Hamilton became a foster mom to 13 and 14 year old boys, who also happened to be her nephews. Both needed extensive dental work, and the services were to be covered by the state’s Medi-Cal program. But year after year, Hamilton ran into a snag.

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Researchers Studying Whether Pesticide Exposure Affects Farmworkers’ Brain Health

July 13, 2014

Researchers Studying Whether Pesticide Exposure Affects Farmworkers’ Brain Health

By Hannah Guzik

On her way to her office in Oxnard, Rachel Casas drives past farmworkers bent over in the fields. Because she is a neuropsychologist, she wonders whether there are pesticides in those fields and if the chemicals may be affecting the laborers.

She still doesn’t know the answer to that question, but she and two other Cal Lutheran University researchers are getting closer to finding out.

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Health Centers Try To Expand Without Losing Roots

July 3, 2014

Health Centers Try To Expand Without Losing Roots

By Lynn Graebner

When Clare Ross couldn’t afford her $300 health insurance premium on top of her student loan payments, she turned to the Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center.

The safety-net clinic was founded in 1974 to serve only women, many of whom, like Ross, couldn’t get care elsewhere. But the center is now expanding its services in order to serve a wider demographic and receive federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.

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Insurance Could Help Former Inmates, But State and County Problems Have Slowed Enrollment

July 3, 2014

Insurance Could Help Former Inmates, But State and County Problems Have Slowed Enrollment

By Angela Woodall

California’s ambitious plan to enroll former prison and jail inmates in health insurance as part of an expansion funded by the Affordable Care Act has been foiled by an applications logjam, administrative errors and bureaucratic roadblocks.

Advocates across California who work with former inmates have been trying since January to get them signed up for Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health plan, in the hopes that having access to doctors, mental health services and addiction treatment might help keep them out of jail.

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Directories of Doctors Who Treat the Poor Are Inaccurate, Hurting Access

June 29, 2014

Directories of Doctors Who Treat the Poor Are Inaccurate, Hurting Access

By Hannah Guzik

Claudia Boyd-Barrett and Angela Woodall contributed to this report.

Directories of doctors given to low-income patients across California are highly inaccurate, making it difficult for them to get the health care they’re entitled to under state law, the California Health Report has found.

More than half of the primary-care doctors in provider directories given to low-income patients in three counties in Northern, Central and Southern California are not accepting new patients with Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health plan, or could not be reached by telephone.

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Drug Labels Aren’t Always Translated, Leading to Dangerous Errors

June 25, 2014

Drug Labels Aren’t Always Translated, Leading to Dangerous Errors

By Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Carolina Paniagua knows what it’s like to live in a world that doesn’t make sense.

When the 42-year-old arrived in the United States from Mexico 17 years ago, like many recent immigrants she spoke no English and struggled to understand even the most basic signs and conversations.

Her lack of English proficiency became particularly challenging once Paniagua, who now lives in Ojai, began having children.

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Bill Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Disclose Spending on Charity Care

June 25, 2014

Bill Requires Non-Profit Hospitals to Disclose Spending on Charity Care

By Robin Urevich

California’s more than 200 non-profit hospitals claim billions of dollars in federal and state tax exemptions annually. In exchange for that tax relief, they’re required to offer free and discounted health care for the poor and benefits like free vaccinations or disease prevention programs for their communities.

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Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access to Mental Health Services in California

June 15, 2014

Despite Need, Indigenous Farmworkers Have Little Access to Mental Health Services in California

 

By Hannah Guzik

When Irene Gomez emigrated from Mexico at 14, she immediately began working in the strawberry fields in the Oxnard Plain.

The work was exhausting, poorly paid and unreliable — but that was the least of her problems. She was also helping a friend escape from a violent relationship and was worried about living in the U.S.

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How the ACA is Changing Lives

June 11, 2014

How the ACA is Changing Lives

By Jessica Portner

The federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act has become a partisan punching bag in Washington D.C., but for singer Nola Shepherd, the new law could not sound any sweeter. The law gave her peace of mind when she lost her job, and now she sees it as part of the foundation for a new business she is trying to get off the ground.

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