Politics, government and public life for Southern California

California Counties and state lawmakers reach provisional plan for Medi-Cal expansion

Thousands Attend Free Temporary Health Clinic In Los Angeles

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Thousands of uninsured patients attend a free temporary health clinic In Los Angeles.

After months of wrangling over how to pay to expand Medi-Cal--California’s  health care program for low-income residents--counties and state lawmakers have sketched out a formula for splitting the costs.

California opted to expand Medi-Cal by more than a million people next year as part of federal health care reform.  

In exchange, the Brown Administration asked counties to relinquish hundreds of millions of dollars they get from the state each year to treat the poor at public hospitals and clinics.  The thinking was that counties costs would drop because many of those people would be eligible for Medi-Cal.

But local officials pushed back.

LA County lobbied for a cost-based formula for figuring out how much money, if any, counties should give back. 

“The most important thing for L.A. County was to have an agreement with the state where our costs are taken care of as it relates to the Medi-Cal expansion in addition to making sure that our safety net is sustained, ” county Assistant Chief Executive Officer Ryan Alsop said Wednesday.


What does Darrell Issa want?

House Holds Hearing On Benghazi Consulate Attacks

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, whose district straddles San Diego and Orange counties, has raised his national profile as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

A California Republican is in the spotlight on Capitol Hill, taking on the Justice Department, the IRS and the Obama administration. But what does Southern California Congressman Darrell Issa want? 

Issa seems to be everywhere these days – CNN, the Sunday talk shows, even "Saturday Night Live." But most especially while chairing the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Issa has led investigations into the ill-fated ATF gun running operation known as “Fast and Furious,” in which guns tracked by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were found near where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.  He's looked into lavish spending at IRS training conferences.

Since calling the President’s press secretary a “paid liar” earlier this month, Issa has avoided the media, including a request to be interviewed for this story. Still, University of California political science professor Marc Sandelow says Issa’s spotlight is growing brighter as he leads two investigations: the deaths of four Americans when the U.S. compound in Libya was overrun by Islamic extremists; and the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service has given to conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.


Ridley-Thomas wants blue ribbon panel on LA child protection agency

Mercer 4596


Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas wants a "Blue Ribbon Commission" to examine the Department of Children and Family Services.

Amid new concerns Los Angeles County is failing to protect children from physically abusive parents, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas Thursday called for the creation of a blue ribbon commission on child protection.

He cited the recent death in Palmdale of Gabriel Fernandez, 8, who suffered a skull fracture and had severe burn marks on his body. Prosecutors have charged his mother and her boyfriend with murder.

“Once again, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is under scrutiny,” Ridley-Thomas said in a written statement. “In Gabriel’s case, there appear to have been repeated reports of abuse and neglect preceding his death.”

Ridley-Thomas also pointed to the 2009 death of a six-year-old boy, “despite repeated reports of abuse,” and the 2011 death of a two-year-old girl  from “massive trauma inflicted by her mother’s boyfriend.”


Code words change in Congressional immigration debate

Xavier Becerra

Kitty Felde

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra talks about Senate immigration debate

The U.S. Senate continues its debate on immigration reform, after getting 82 votes Tuesday to move the bill forward. But the language of the debate has changed.

Immigration foes used to label the path to citizenship for those who entered this country illegally as "amnesty." Now, they talk about there being no path forward until the border is secure.

Congressman Xavier Becerra, one of the seven members negotiating a House bill, says at least opponents are focused on something that is real. The L.A. Democrat says he has no problem discussing border security, but "you can be excessive when it comes to enforcement to the degree that you're no longer getting any return for that extra dollar spent."

Becerra says there's a difference between being tough on enforcement, and being unreasonable: "I'm not interested in being mean just for the sake of being political."

Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn has proposed an amendment requiring that 90 percent of illegal border crossings be stopped before those on the path to citizenship get green cards. Becerra says holding those individuals responsible for the federal government's job of securing the border makes no sense.


Take me out of the Capitol ... to the old ballgame

Rookie Congressman Raul Ruiz will play third base for the Democrats.

Forget that brawl at Dodger Stadium Tuesday night. It could get real ugly in Washington Thursday night when the Congressional baseball teams take the field for their annual game.

It's Democrats vs. Republicans, with California well represented. There are five rookies from the Golden State, and an 11-year veteran — the only woman on the Democratic squad.

The Californians bring a range of experience to the field. Palm Springs Democrat Raul Ruiz says he grew up playing in Little League. Redding Republican Doug LaMalfa played on a softball team  when he was in the state legislature. Lakewood Democrat Linda Sanchez is the veteran. She played fast pitch softball for about 15 years before coming to Congress. But David Valadao, a Central Valley Republican, says he's never played.

LaMalfa says he's heard Democrats have a hot pitcher who's shut down the GOP two years in a row. Not this year, he says: "You go out there, play the game, stick the bat out, see what happens, right?"

Pinch-hitting Sanchez has played the Congressional game for more than a decade. She tells freshmen it's a good way to meet lawmakers not on their committees — and even mingle with the Senators who put on a glove: "And when you play together as a team, there is this sense of comraderie and esprit de corps."

How seriously do they take the game? Well, there have been 7 a.m. practices, which physician Raul Ruiz — the Democrats' third baseman — says have taken their toll: "We've got pulled hamstrings and pulled calves." He admits he's pulled something himself.

It's a baseball tradition to try to hide the least experienced player somewhere he'll do the least damage. Valadao admits they've put him in left field, but he says it's all for a good cause: "We're raising money for the Boys and Girls' Club."

The 52nd annual game begins after votes, down the street from the U.S. Capitol, at Nationals Park. The Republicans lead the all-time series 38-36. There's been one tie. If that happens again, does Vice President Joe Biden get to declare the winner?