News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – December 2, 2016

Media memo

In this week’s CWDA Media Memo, read what experts are saying about possible changes to the Affordable Care Act and what it could mean for the one in three Californians who now receive health care coverage through Medi-Cal; learn about a program addressing loneliness among seniors; and a new report on homelessness among children finds 527,000 children in California are without a home – that’s one-fifth of the nation’s child homeless population.

Medi-Cal/Medicaid/Affordable Care Act

Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, but it turns out Americans like most of it, a poll finds | Los Angeles Times | December 1, 2016

Despite sharp partisan differences over the Affordable Care Act, Democrats and Republicans, including voters who backed President-elect Donald Trump, strongly support most of the law’s key provisions, a new national poll indicates. And although most Trump voters still favor repealing the law, often called Obamacare, an increasing share of Americans overall oppose that approach, according to the poll, which was conducted in mid-November, following Trump’s election. Just a quarter of Americans say they wanted to scrap the law, down from nearly a third in October. By contrast, nearly half say they want the law expanded or implemented as it is. Another 17% say they want the law scaled back.

Medi-Cal Reaches Millions of People Across California, but Faces an Uncertain Future | California Budget & Policy Center | November 2016

Medi-Cal, our state’s Medicaid program, is the cornerstone of California’s health care system. Funded with both state and federal dollars, Medi-Cal provides health care services to more than 13 million low-income Californians, including children, working parents, seniors, and others. Enrollment in Medi-Cal increased by several million after state policymakers fully implemented the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, in part by expanding coverage to low-income parents and other adults who previously were ineligible. Medi-Cal enrollees live in all 58 California counties and comprise more than one-quarter of the population in 49 counties. 

Could Trump’s pick for health care czar upend Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare? | Mercury News | November 29, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Georgia Congressman Tom Price to be U.S. secretary of health and human services didn’t just send shock waves through California because of his plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After all, Trump had already promised numerous times to “repeal and replace” President Barack Obama’s signature health care program on the campaign trail. What really rattled California health care experts and advocates was Price’s written plan for overhauling Medicaid, the nation’s health plan for the poor, and privatizing Medicare  — which covers 57 million Americans age 65 and older.

California Braces For Medi-Cal’s Future Under Trump And The GOP | Kaiser Health News | November 22, 2016

California grabbed the first opportunity to expand Medicaid and ran with it, helping cut the number of uninsured people in half in a few short years. Thanks in part to billions of dollars in federal funding, a third of California’s residents — including half its children — are insured by Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid. Now, with the election of Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, the state that bet so heavily on the Medicaid expansion is bracing to see how much of its work will be undone. While no one knows yet exactly what will happen, many policymakers and advocates fear the federal government will end or severely limit funding for the expansion.

Obamacare Repeal Could Blow Billion-Dollar Holes in State Budgets | Bloomberg BNA | November 22, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act could have a detrimental impact on the budgets of states receiving additional federal matching funds to expand their Medicaid coverage. Governors, state budget offices and Medicaid programs are scrambling to figure out the effect of a potential ACA repeal amid uncertainty over what may happen at the federal level and when… The stakes are high in California where more than 14 million people—one-third of California residents—are enrolled in Medicaid. The state stands to lose $15 billion in federal matching funds if the ACA is repealed. California has added 3.7 million people to Medicaid through the expansion. “These are people who mostly work, and their employers don’t have to pay for their health care,” Cathy Senderling-McDonald, deputy executive director of the California Welfare Directors Association, told Bloomberg BNA.


The Future of California’s Seniors: More Diverse, But More Disabled Too | KQED | November 29, 2016

The number of seniors in California is expected to more than double by 2060, from roughly 5 million to 12 million. A new report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office says this future senior population will be more racially diverse than seniors in the U.S. as a whole: the state’s elderly population is projected to become majority nonwhite as soon as 2030. The proportion of these future seniors who are disabled will also increase. That’s because nonwhite populations have higher disability rates. Seniors are also expected to live longer, and seniors over age 85 experience higher disability rates as well. Eventually, this will present new and difficult challenges for California in providing long-term care for these seniors, the report concludes.

Hospital Companions Can Ease Isolation For Older People | NPR | November 21, 2016

Loneliness can be a problem for older people, especially when they’re in the hospital. Their children may have moved away. Spouses and friends may themselves be too frail to visit. So a California hospital is providing volunteer companions in the geriatric unit. One of the volunteers at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica is 24-year-old Julia Torrano. She hopes to go to medical school. Meanwhile, her twice-weekly volunteer shifts give her a lot of practice working with patients. One of them is Estelle Day. She’s 79 years old, a slender woman with a wild mane of hair that is still mostly red. Torrano peppers her with questions… Loneliness is a legitimate medical issue. There are a number of studies linking loneliness and social isolation in old people to poorer health and earlier death, including one published earlier this month in JAMA Psychiatry associating loneliness, social isolation and brain changes typical in Alzheimer’s.

How Governments Are Tackling a Deadly Threat to Seniors: Falling | Governing | November 21, 2016

Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths among older adults and cost more than $30 billion a year in medical charges. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nationally just over 10 percent of older Americans reported an injury from a fall in the past year. The report tracked falls and fall injuries for adults age 65 and over in each state, discovering sizable variation across different regions of the country. About 13 percent of older adults in Missouri reported suffering a fall-related injury — the highest rate nationally — with California, Oregon and Montana not too far behind. Other states like Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland and Mississippi record significantly lower rates between 7 and 8.9 percent.


New report: Child homelessness on the rise in US | Associated Press | November 16, 2016

The number of homeless children in the U.S. has surged in recent years to an all-time high, amounting to one child in every 30, according to a comprehensive state-by-state report that blames the nation’s high poverty rate, the lack of affordable housing and the impacts of pervasive domestic violence. Titled “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the report being issued Monday by the National Center on Family Homelessness calculates that nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013. The number is based on the Department of Education’s latest count of 1.3 million homeless children in public schools, supplemented by estimates of homeless pre-school children not counted by the DOE. The problem is particularly severe in California, which has one-eighth of the U.S. population but accounts for more than one-fifth of the homeless children with a tally of nearly 527,000.

Child Welfare

Los Angeles Drug Court’s Wrap-around Services Help Parents Quit Drugs, Keep Their Kids | Youth Today | November 29, 2016

“I didn’t know how to be a mom,” Lisa Galvan said. “I was used to being by myself. It was really hard for me to adjust and even for the kids to adjust because I never was around. So when I came back out [of rehab] they gave them back to me, and within a month I started using again.” By the time Galvan was 20, she had three children and had been using meth for seven years. She had been a drug addict for far longer than she’d been a mother, and when she tried to get sober, she found out she needed more than just substance abuse treatment before she could properly care for her kids. These days the nation is on high alert, for good reason, about the impact of drug abuse on children and foster care systems across the nation. The national conversation is focused on the epidemic-level abuse of heroin and opioids, but the scene in LA, where Galvan lives, is a bit different.

Campaign Aims to Mobilize Older Adults on Behalf of Youth-Serving Organizations | Youth Today | November 28, 2016

Youth-serving organizations hope to reap the benefits of a new campaign to encourage more Americans ages 50 and older to volunteer in their communities. The “Generation to Generation” campaign unites service and youth-serving organizations to meet the goal of connecting 1 million older Americans to opportunities that help young people thrive during the next five years. “The campaign is a new take on an enduring idea — that societies thrive most fully when older and younger people come together, not just in families but in the greater community,” said Marc Freedman, CEO of, the nonprofit group leading the campaign.

Report: Benefits of Early Care and Education for Children in the Child Welfare System | Chronicle of Social Change | November 25, 2016

The Administration for Children and Families, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released a new report titled “Benefits of Early Care and Education for Children in the Child Welfare System.” The report points to recent research showing that children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of child maltreatment and neglect and says there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that early care and education (ECE) may improve child safety and well-being among children involved in the child welfare system. According to the report, ECE refers to regular, non-parental care or supervision of young children, typically provided to help parents seeking employment or to promote early child development and school readiness. Such programs include child care, day care, early education, nursery school, prekindergarten, and preschool.