Hmong Farmers Losing Battle Against Drought

December 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

May Vu explains to Hmong farming advocate Jon Thao that she cannot apply for an emergency loan from the USDA Farm Service Agency because she does not own her land. (Erica Mu/KQED)

May Vu explains to Hmong farming advocate Jon Thao that she cannot apply for an emergency loan from the USDA Farm Service Agency because she does not own her land. (Erica Mu/KQED)

This story was originally featured in KQED’s “The California Report.”

Groups of California farmers have been struggling to survive the state’s epic drought, and this year one group has started to lose the fight. Fresno County’s Hmong refugee producers are some of the state’s newest and most disadvantaged farmers — and they cannot afford the water necessary to keep their businesses going. Emergency loans are available from the government but, as many are discovering, the help is often too little too late. « Read the rest of this entry »

Cheap produce and $60,000 bottles of cognac

September 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo by Erica Mu

A customer surveys the pricier end of the cognac aisle at Hawaii Supermarket in San Gabriel, CA. Photo by Erica Mu

This story was originally featured on American Public Media’s “Marketplace

http://www.marketplace.org/node/147531/player/storyplayer

Fifteen minutes east of Marketplace’s Downtown Los Angeles studios is Hawaii Supermarket, a modest Chinese grocery store where one can buy eight pounds of watermelon for a dollar — or a bottle of cognac for $60,000.

You read that right. One bottle, at $60,000, is more than a lot of annual salaries.

But for Hawaii Supermarket’s wealthy shoppers from China, high-end liquor is its own kind of currency. « Read the rest of this entry »

Effort to enroll released inmates in Medicaid faces big hurdles

June 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

Flickr photo by San Quentin News. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Flickr photo by San Quentin News. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

This story was originally published in the Reporting on Health Affordable Care Act blog.

One of the ironies of the American health care system is that only the incarcerated are constitutionally guaranteed health care.

But an inmate’s exit from jail or prison often means an exit from the only health care system they have known. Those behind bars are more likely to suffer from chronic disease, addiction and mental illness. Without continued treatment, problems easily reemerge. In many cases, relapse is followed by a quick return to incarceration.

Ensuring care for inmates after release has long been a challenge. The Affordable Care Act could help. Starting January 1, the majority of the incarcerated qualify for Medicaid coverage thanks to changes in the program that now make single, childless adults eligible. Previously, between 70 and 90 percent of the 10 million individuals released each year in the U.S. were uninsured. « Read the rest of this entry »

San Gabriel Valley’s Evolving Food Scene

June 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo by Gennia Cui // Creative Core

Photo by Gennia Cui // Creative Core

This story was originally featured on KCRW’s “Good Food

Chinese food is one of those cuisines that most everyone knows, and yet hardly anyone really knows. Egg rolls? Yes, please. Orange chicken? Don’t mind if I do. Chow mein? Love it.

You might be rolling your eyes at the aforementioned offerings, but finding “real” Chinese food is much more complicated than one might imagine, even in Los Angeles, home to one of the most competitive and diverse Chinese restaurant industries in America.

« Read the rest of this entry »

As mental health coverage expands, providers not always there

May 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

Flickr photo by Casey Muir-Taylor. https://www.flickr.com/photos/caseydavid/8271781446

Flickr photo by Casey Muir-Taylor. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

This story was originally published in the Reporting on Health Affordable Care Act blog.

At the start of the year, before the state’s health insurance exchange was enrolling people in earnest, California rolled out a huge new addition to its Medicaid benefits.

Following the Affordable Care Act’s passage, Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, expanded coverage to those with mild and moderate mental health problems. The benefits previously were limited to very select groups and the most severely ill patients.

To deliver the new benefits, managed care plans have been charged with pulling together “adequate” networks of mental health providers in every county, from psychologists and psychiatrists to social workers and marriage and family therapists.

Complete provider networks must be submitted to the state by the end of next month, according to the Department of Health Care Services. But despite assurances from the state and managed care organizations that networks will be robust enough to meet the needs of nearly 11.5 million beneficiaries, some caregivers see a different reality. « Read the rest of this entry »

Explainer: How the ACA will affect mental health and substance use disorder coverage

May 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Flickr photo by Lee Winder, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Flickr photo by Lee Winder, courtesy of Creative Commons.

A shortened version of this piece is available at the Reporting on Health Affordable Care Act blog. This extended article explains how different pieces of legislation are working together to shape access to mental health care coverage.

Of the many projections made about the Affordable Care Act, one number stands out among the rest: 62 million. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS), that’s the number of individuals who will either gain mental health and substance use disorder coverage under the ACA, or will benefit from federal parity protections for their existing coverage. It’s been over a year since that number was originally published, and with new insurance a reality for millions across the country, it’s time to take a closer look at how the ACA could potentially change access, affordability, and quality of coverage in this area of health care. « Read the rest of this entry »

New model seeks to address social factors shaping health

April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Image

Flickr photo by calvinnivlac, courtesy of Creative Commons

This story was originally published on the Reporting on Health Affordable Care Act blog

As Obamacare’s first open enrollment period came to an end last month, the vast majority of media coverage focused on just a few questions. How many people actually enrolled through the exchanges? Were attitudes changing towards the law? And what kind of political consequences would Republicans and Democrats face in the upcoming election cycle? Less prevalent, however, was the discussion of the social conditions that often exert a powerful influence over people’s health. « Read the rest of this entry »

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