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Voters support prevention over prisons, poll says

March 10, 2011
By Daniel Weintraub California voters think major reforms of the state’s criminal justice system are needed, and they support changes that would focus on prevention and rehabilitation programs targeted at young people, according to a new poll released Thursday. The survey by Tulchin Research Co. of 601 registered voters found that voters favor prevention more than building more prisons and adopting tougher sentencing laws. “They don’t have this mentality to lock everybody up and throw away the key,” said Ben Tulchin, president of the polling firm. “They see a need for reform, that the status quo is not working.”

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Senator sees opportunity for change amid crisis

January 18, 2011
If every crisis also presents an opportunity, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier thinks the state’s current predicament makes this an ideal time to restructure the way government operates. DeSaulnier, a former Concord city councilman and Contra Costa County supervisor, has seen California government from just about every level, and he has seen its dysfunction. Now he is chairman of the Senate budget subcommittee that deals with health and human servivces programs, and he is hoping to use the crisis to drive innovation and collaboration into the system. I caught up with DeSaulnier last week at the Working Families Summit in Sacramento, and discussed his take on the problem and potential solutions.

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Preventable hospitalizations decline, but big differences among counties persist

December 28, 2010
Preventable hospitalizations for ten health conditions have declined in California over the past decade, but wide disparities remain among the state's 58 counties, according to new data from an agency that tracks statewide health trends. Hospitalizations for three preventable conditions -- urinary tract infections, hypertension and long-term complications from diabetes -- have increased during the past ten years.

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Local grants will aim to transform communities, improve health

August 19, 2010
A little known part of the federal health reform enacted earlier this year aims to improve health by improving the conditions under which people live. Part of a planned $15 billion investment in prevention programs, community transformation grants will provide money to clean up neighborhoods, rejuvenate neglected parks, and expand access to healthy foods. Megan Baier has the story.

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Cuts to breast-cancer screenings affect more women than expected

May 21, 2010
Budget cuts to a state program that provides mammograms to screen low-income women for breast cancer have affected far more women than expected, according to state figures. While the cuts had been expected to reduce the number of recipients by 17 percent to about 21,000 per month, only about 10,000 women per month received the service in the first three months of the year, according to this AP story.

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A different kind of Youth Uprising

May 11, 2010
An East Oakland center for young people is an oasis of hope in a community in crisis. It provides counseling, job training, recreation, health care and more. Soon it will host a series of meetings between Oakland police officers and local youth to try to reduce tension between law enforcement and the community.

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Prevention: insurer to pay Y to keep its customers fit

April 14, 2010
United HealthGroup is trying to act on research that shows keeping patients healthy can cut costs for everyone, including the insurance company. The firm is going to start paying the Y.M.C.A. to offer weight loss and nutrition counseling to consumers who are at risk for developing diabetes. Research has shown that losing just a few pounds can dramatically reduce the risk of an overweight person developing the disease. That weight loss is no doubt a marker for other lifestyle changes that come with a commitment to eating better and exercising. This kind of policy is likely to be more common once insurance companies shift from trying to keep risky customers out of their business to finding ways to reduce the risk that comes with accepting all comers regardless of their health condition. This story from the New York Times details the company's initiative.

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Federal health reform bill includes a new focus on prevention

March 30, 2010
The federal health reform bill that President Barack Obama signed into law last week will expand access to health insurance for millions of Americans. But the bill will also pour billions of dollars into programs intended to keep those people from ever needing the kind of care for which they will now be eligible. The bill includes new mandates on public and private insurers to provide more check-ups and screenings without co-pays. But the most intriguing provision creates a grant program to transform communities in ways designed to improve the health of their residents.

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