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Diabetics account for nearly 1/3 of hospital stays

May 15, 2014

We’ve long known that diabetes and its related illnesses cause havoc in people’s lives and drive up health care costs, but a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has quantified the damage done with a sobering new statistic: nearly one-third of hospital stays by Californians age 35 and older involve a person who has been diagnosed with diabetes.

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The ACA and women’s health

May 13, 2014

The ACA and women’s health

The Affordable Care Act has several provisions aimed at improving women’s health. In this infographic, the Journal of the American Medical Association lays out some of the issues women face and how the ACA might help. Click on the thumbnail to see the full graphic.

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How wealth drives health — and what we can do about it

May 11, 2014

By Daniel Weintraub

California is a land of health extremes, and to see what that means, you need only travel a few miles from the state Capitol.

Placer and Yuba counties border each other about a half hour’s drive north of downtown Sacramento. Both places are largely rural. But the similarities end there.

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Health before — and after — health care

April 6, 2014

Even as lawmakers in Washington D.C. drove themselves into a bitter partisan divide over federal health reform in 2010, an unusual experiment across the country in Oregon was amassing evidence that the rancorous debate in Congress was focused on many of the wrong things.

And if what Oregon’s experience is telling us now is accurate, the Affordable Care Act will be neither the boon to America’s health that its supporters claim nor the threat that its detractors fear it will be.

Why? Because expanding access to health insurance and even health care — the primary goal of the ACA — might not make us healthier, at least not in the the short term and not in the ways most people seem to believe.

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Historic prison reform raises fundamental questions

December 23, 2013

California is two years into an historic reform of its criminal justice policy, shifting low-level offenders from state prison to county custody. The change has resulted in 18,000 inmates going free who, in past years, would have been behind bars. Now a new study suggests that this change has led to a significant increase in auto theft. How should the state respond?

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Chief Justice backs school discipline reform

December 15, 2013

California’s school drop-out rate is driven largely by a cycle of kids getting in trouble, being suspended or expelled, and never getting back on track. Reformers have been arguing for an overhaul of the school discipline system to focus it on keeping kids in school while they are held accountable for their actions. Now the state’s Chief Justice has thrown her support behind these efforts, saying reform would be smart and more just, and save money too.

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California finances riding the roller coaster, again

December 1, 2013

California’s government finances are riding the roller coaster again. Buoyed by a soaring stock market and rising home prices, personal income tax receipts are flowing into the state treasury at a rate exceeding all expectations. The result: a surplus of $6 billion or more is likely if Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature simply stay the course on spending and taxes for the next 18 months. And that’s after taking into account billions of dollars in higher spending on the schools that the state Constitution will require if tax revenues grow as now projected by the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s office. But one big question looms as lawmakers and the governor consider how to spend the government’s new found riches: what will happen when the music stops?

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CoveredCa a model — and a warning

November 25, 2013

As President Obama struggles to fix problems with a federal website at the heart of his health reform, California’s new online health insurance exchange is winning praise as a model for the nation. But behind some positive early numbers lurk challenges that could also serve as warning signs for the rest of the country.

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Can Soda Tax Gain Traction Here?

November 18, 2013

A lot of people rolled their eyes when New York City banned the use of trans fats in restaurant meals a few years ago. Some called it “nanny government.” But now the federal Food and Drug Administration has ruled that the fats are unhealthy and announced plans to phase them out of processed foods.

Could sugar-sweetened drinks be next?

An outright ban isn’t in the cards. But a broad coalition of California public health groups is trying to slap a special tax on sugary drinks to finance anti-obesity programs aimed at children.

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Making sure disadvantaged kids don’t get lost in the reform shuffle

November 10, 2013

California is about to begin a new era of school reform that promises less focus on facts and figures and more attention to critical thinking and problem solving. But the state needs to make sure that dramatic gains in basic skills made by low-income students in the generation since the last major reforms were adopted are not lost in the quest for deeper understanding of complex topics.

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