News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – December 22, 2016

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo, California embraced the Affordable Care Act and a new study shows how that’s paid off;  Orange County becomes the latest to move forward with a program that allows those who are elderly, disabled and homeless to use CalFresh to buy prepared meals; and a recent study looks at the “stress load” of low-income Americans and its contribution to their premature deaths.

CWDA’s Media Memo will be on hiatus until January 6, 2017. Happy Holidays from CWDA!


How One Homeless Couple Finds and Prepares Their Meals | Mother Jones | December 17, 2016

The sun reaches down between the steel slats of a park bridge, its light flickering as a bicyclist glides overhead. Donna Ewing, 54, and her boyfriend, Louie, 52, watch him pass from below. They spent nearly a month digging out a space under the bridge, before adding walls made of plywood and sheet metal. Their new space is an upgrade from the tent they were living in before: It has a sturdy roof and much more privacy. Donna and Louie have lived in Union Point, a small park near a boat marina in West Oakland, California, for about a year. They’re two of the city’s estimated 6,200 homeless residents, and part of the nearly 17 percent of Americans who don’t have enough to eat on a regular basis. Because of their makeshift living quarters, finding food and preparing the next meal can take up a significant part of the day… Feeding America, a hunger relief organization, estimates that more than 232,000 people in Alameda County don’t have access to enough nutritious and affordable food. The Alameda County Food Bank feeds about 116,000 people each month.

Affordable Care Act

Health Care Access And Affordability Improve In California, New Report Finds | KPBS | December 21, 2016

Unlike some other states, California has embraced Obamacare. And a new report shows California has reaped enormous benefits. The Commonwealth Fund report looks at some of the changes in access and affordability since Obamacare took effect. Between 2013 and 2015, all major ethnic groups in California experienced big reductions in the adult uninsured rate. The percentage of adults who went without care because of cost also fell sharply.

CA prepares for health care battle | Capitol Weekly | December 20, 2016

The results of a presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump has some in a panic. And with GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, Trump presumably can do just about anything. But California health advocates are not talking about abandoning the state’s healthcare system. They’re preparing for a fight… California was one of the first states to embrace the Affordable Care Act’s state health insurance marketplace, called Covered California. It also took the Medicaid expansion, adding over 3.6 million Californians to the state’s low-income health insurance program, Medi-Cal. According to Health Access California, which advocates for the expansion of health care services, at least 90 percent of Californians who buy health care coverage through Covered California receive financial assistance. Congress is expected to cut some of those subsidies in a budget reconciliation bill next year.

ACA repeal could be big blow to working poor | California Health Report | December 19, 2016

California probably gained more than any other state from the Affordable Care Act, the federal health reform better known as Obamacare. Now, with the program facing almost certain demise, the state and its low-income residents have the most to lose. President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have pledged to repeal Obamacare and then replace it with something better. No one knows exactly what that will mean. But we do have some clues. House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican members in Congress outlined their health reform proposals in a detailed document before the election.

How Would Repeal Of The ACA Affect Californians’ Health Coverage? | Kaiser Health News | December 14, 2016

In almost every county across California, regardless of its political leaning, at least one in ten people has health coverage because of Obamacare. And in some counties, almost one fifth of the population is eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, either through the expansion of Medi-Cal or Covered California, the state-run health insurance marketplace that offers subsidized private coverage. A California Healthline examination of data from the state agencies that administer Obamacare in California showed that as of July, over 5 million Californians — about 12.9 percent of the state’s population — had coverage they could lose if the main pillars of the federal law were scrapped. Health care advocates say the high number of Californians with publicly-funded health care shows there are lot of low-income people in the state.


Orange County Supervisors approve restaurant meal food assistance program | Orange County Breeze | December 17, 2016

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has authorized a program to allow those who are elderly, disabled and homeless who participate in the state’s food-assistance program to purchase prepared meals at participating restaurants. Upon implementation, Orange County will join Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in offering the Restaurant Meals Program, which allows participants to purchase prepared meals with their CalFresh benefits. “The Restaurant Meals Program increases the availability of cooked meals for those who don’t have a place to store food or a place to cook it,” said Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “Our emphasis will be on encouraging healthy meals and a greater availability of prepared meals.”

Poverty & Stress

Everybody outside of the top is suffering’: How stress is harming America’s health | Washington Post Wonkblog | December 13, 2016

The stresses of poverty in the United States have grown so intense that they are harming the health of lower-income Americans — even prematurely leading to their death. A report published Monday by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution finds that stress levels have greatly increased for Americans at all income levels since the 1970s, but especially for low-income groups, as the chart below shows. The report doesn’t measure stress as we typically think about it in daily life. Instead, the researchers track “stress load,” an index of certain biological markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, and kidney and liver function, that they say are “associated with long-term physiological strain.” These metrics are strong indicators of a person’s health and mortality, according to the report.

Foster Care/Child Welfare

Son’s birth motivates young mom to graduate from CSUS | Sacramento Bee | December 16, 2016

Alexis Griffin craned her neck from her seat at Sleep Train Arena, trying to catch a glance of her motivation for graduating – her 2-year-old son, Noah. Griffin, 24, a former foster child, was waiting her turn to accept a diploma granting her a bachelor’s degree in gerontology from California State University, Sacramento, on Friday morning, after six years of school. “My son has done nothing but motivate me – my marriage and my son,” Griffin said. “I made the Dean’s Honors list every semester since I found out I was pregnant.” Griffin and the 3,799 other CSUS graduates who will walk the stage in seven graduation ceremonies Friday and Saturday will be the last to do it at Sleep Train Arena.

Administration & Communication

Words of Wisdom for Public Officials Trying to Connect With Citizens –  For one, realize that you have the “curse of knowledge.” | Governing | December 2016

Many public officials feel that much of the cynicism and distrust surrounding government exists because they haven’t properly “told their story.” Yet when the occasional media report surfaces about a jurisdiction engaging marketing or public relations professionals, the tone is usually critical, as if this is something that governments should not do. That’s odd when you consider that, more and more, public officials are being urged to see their constituents as customers. After all, what successful business does not do marketing? Certainly a case can be made that public officials should not spend public money to simply promote themselves. But devoting time and resources to communicating with constituents, understanding their needs and explaining what government is doing is vitally important. We could probably legitimize it by calling it transparency.

To submit stories for inclusion in CWDA’s weekly Media Memo, email Sarah Jimenez. County staff and others not currently receiving the Media Memo directly can sign up on the CWDA website at the bottom of the home page.