Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

OnCentral content migrating to main KPCC site

Hospital Toddler Check Up

Mae Ryan/KPCC

A doctor at South Central Family Health Center examines a patient on June 12th, 2012.

As of today, KPCC is moving community health coverage to our main news site, KPCC.org. As a result, the OnCentral blog will no longer be updated, and the Twitter and Facebook accounts associated with On Central also will be inactive.

KPCC launched OnCentral as part of an effort to focus on broad issues of health and quality of life, particularly in South Los Angeles. That coverage will remain part of KPCC's ongoing mission and will appear on our main news site.

Existing OnCentral blog posts will remain archived here.

Please let us know if there are issues you feel merit coverage. You can comment below, by email, on our Facebook page or on our Twitter feed (just "@" mention @KPCC).

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FAQ: What is Healthy Way LA? What are the links to Medi-Cal and health care reform?

South Central Family Health Center, clinic

Mae Ryan/KPCC

The lobby of South Central Family Health Center in South Los Angeles. Next year, around 133,000 residents in the health center's state assembly district are expected to gain access to Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act – which means they're all currently eligible for Healthy Way L.A., a county bridge program.

Forget controversial – the Affordable Care Act is just plain confusing. But that can be expected when federal, state and local governments come together in a collaborative effort.

One of the major changes tied to Obamacare is a significant expansion of the federal government's Medicaid program. And here are some answers to your questions.

Q: So what is the Medicaid expansion?

This is one of the law's landmark provisions. It will expand the eligibility requirements for Medicaid – the nation's public health insurance plan – which mainly serves the poor. That's going to give tens of millions of uninsured people across the country coverage. California's Medicaid program – which is called Medi-Cal – is expected to grow by about 1.4 million people.

Q: What about in L.A. County?

A good part of the Medi-Cal expansion will come from Los Angeles. According to Louise McCarthy, the president and CEO of the Community Clinic Association of L.A. County, about 550,000 county residents are expected to be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage under the Affordable Care Act starting on January 1, 2014.

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Institute of Medicine: US lags in evaluating obesity prevention efforts

scale

Chris/Flickr Creative Commons

A report finds that the U.S. does a poor job of tracking which obesity programs work best.

When it comes to preventing obesity, the U.S. is lagging behind other nations in figuring out how effective its efforts are in convincing people to lose weight.

A new report from the Institute of Medicine says if the U.S. were more systematic and consistent at doing that, it would have a better chance at selecting the best programs to invest in. (Read the report below.)

On a related note, the institute also says overall investment in obesity programs is too sporadic.

South Los Angeles has the highest child obesity rate in L.A. County – and its adult rate is second highest, and well above the county average. About 1 in 3 southside adults are obese, compared to about 27 percent of U.S. adults.

The IOM report characterized the challenges facing U.S. health officials as largely structural. Among the authors' findings and comments:

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UCLA: Great Recession may mean more Californians eligible for Medi-Cal expansion

Community Health Center Provides Services To Needy As Supreme Court Debates Healthcare Reform Law

John Moore/Getty Images

Researchers from UCLA say a demographic shift among California's uninsured means that the Affordable Care Act's Medi-Cal expansion may "encompass a larger number of people than was anticipated" before the law was enacted.

The economic recession that began in California in 2008 may have implications for the Medi-Cal expansion scheduled to take place at the beginning of next year under the Affordable Care Act. According to the authors of a new brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, this means the Medi-Cal expansion under the ACA may "encompass a larger number of people than was anticipated" before the law was enacted.

State legislators have currently opted to expand Medi-Cal to an additional 1.4 million Californians. The South Los Angeles area is home to roughly 209,000 of those people, according to separate data provided by UCLA.

Further, the number of  those who were uninsured swelled, from 6.4  million in 2007 to 7.1 million in 2009. And more jobs may not necessarily help. Even a worker with wages at or near minimum wage working full time may be eligible for MediCal under the expansion (depending on family size).

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'A critical moment': Officials talk preparations for implementation of health care reform

12 - UMMA Clinic Nursing 28

Christopher Okula/KPCC

A medical assistant at UMMA Community Clinic in South L.A., checks on a patient's progress. On Monday morning, Congresswoman Maxine Waters hosted a roundtable discussion with local and state officials and workers to focus on one question: What's the status of health care reform implementation in California and L.A. County?

Congresswoman Maxine Waters convened federal, state and county leaders on Monday morning to discuss the status of health care reform implementation in California and, more specifically, Waters' congressional district.

The verdict? There's still a whole lot of work to be done.

"Getting the word out is perhaps the greatest challenge we face over the next six months," said Waters, speaking to representatives from a host of agencies and groups, including the California Endowment, Covered California, the Insure the Uninsured Project and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.

Editor's Note: OnCentral receives financial support from the California Endowment.

Dr. Robert Ross, the president and CEO of the California Endowment, called it a "critical, critical moment."

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