CIRS Blog about Rural California
By Leah Bartos
With all Americans required to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, will the existing safety net clinics become a thing of the past?
For generations, grassroots-style community clinics have worked to fill the coverage gap. Their mandate: to treat any patient who walks in the door, regardless of ability to pay.
But by January of next year, all those patients should have health insurance. In theory.
Despite the requirement — and penalty fee for noncompliance — a projected 3 to 4 million Californians will remain uninsured through 2019, according to a UC Berkeley Labor Center study. Of the remaining uninsured, the report projects that nearly 40 percent still won’t be able to afford coverage, and that three-fourths will be U.S. citizens or lawfully present immigrants. More than half will include households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
For many, California’s safety net clinics will continue to be their best — or only — option for care.
By Leslie Griffy
California Health Report
When students start school in the Salinas Valley town of Bradley, they bring with them with pens, paper and notebooks. The school district provides their water bottles.
That is because tap water in this south Monterey County school is undrinkable. It’s contaminated with dangerously high levels nitrates.
Bradley’s approximately 49 students, kindergarten through 8th grade, aren’t alone in their lack of tap water.
Officials at schools in San Lucas, a little less than a half hour north of Bradley, discovered about two years ago that the water from their taps isn’t safe. Filling the gap, first with county emergency funds and now with water provided by a bottled water company, was a juggling act at first.
“It was a bit of surprise and sudden scramble to think that ‘uh oh, we have to do something,’” said Principal Nicole Hester.
The Washington Union School District, off Highway 68 between Salinas and Monterey, is also without potable water.
By Leah Bartos
California Health Report
In the coming year, millions of currently uninsured Californians will gain coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act — but that does not necessarily mean it will be any easier for them to see a doctor.
As the state prepares for the expected onslaught of newly insured patients, health-care professionals are warning there may not be enough doctors — particularly, those practicing primary care — to meet the increased demand. Some say that the problem will be even more amplified in rural California, which already suffers a physician shortage and dwindling workforce, as the majority of rural physicians nears retirement and recruitment of new doctors lags in replacing them.
The poverty of the Central Valley of California and the abundance of the region’s agriculture is a conundrum. Even though there has been a decrease in community-based access to healthy food, and a rise in chronic disease in the heartland of the state of California, and the nation, we are beginning to see people and agriculture coming together for the good of both.
The exciting change arising in the Central Valley, honoring our agricultural roots and reinventing our regional economy, has been led by the smart growth investments of Smart Valley Places, with support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation. These buds of change are blossoming into a new triple-bottom-line Central Valley economy that honors the environment, equity and economics. Environmentalists, supporters of the organic movement, and advocates for social justice, are not the only ones talking the regional food system talk anymore. The Fresno Business Council, the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and regional cities are choosing smart growth and healthy communities and realizing that the Central Valley, a place with the capacity to feed the nation, can also feed our region. Institutions (such as schools, hospitals and city and county governments) are looking at their ability to access healthier, affordable local food, and the ability for local purchasing to drive their economies home.
Tyrone Hayes, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, California, shares his research on the widely used herbicide Atrazine and its disturbing effects on frogs, the environment, and on public health. We learn that Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in North America. Atrazine is used throughout the United States to control weeds in agricultural fields, residential lawns, Christmas tree farms, and, golf courses, despite evidence of its toxic nature. Professor Hayes’ research published in Narture magazine shows that there is enough Atrazine in rainwater in Iowa to make male frogs “yolk eggs in their testes.” This module shows what can happen when a company in Switzerland is allowed to market their products in America when they can not be sold in Switzerland or most of Europe.