News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – February 11, 2017

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: despite uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Covered California saw a last minute influx of new enrollees just before their deadline; read  about a Los Angeles County foster father who shows incredible love and dedication taking in terminally ill children and ensuring they aren’t alone at death; watch the story of a Ventura County couple share their journey of becoming foster parents and encouragement to others; and the push is on to help working families get their earned income tax credit. A profile in Orange County reminds people what the EITC is and how to help families get it.

Health Care

Repealing Obamacare would kill millions of jobs nationwide | McClatchy News | February 8, 2017

It may not crash the economy, but repealing key provisions of the Affordable Care Act would certainly create job losses in every state. That’s the consensus of a growing body of studies that suggest the economic fallout from the health law’s partial demise would ripple through the entire economy, not just the health care sector. Josh Bivens, Director of Research at the Economic Policy Institute, estimates the proposed repeal would eliminate nearly 1.2 million jobs in 2019.

Conservatives Urge Speedup Of Health Law Repeal, Dismiss Calls For Caution | Kaiser Health News | February 8, 2017

Leading conservative Republicans from the House and Senate say Congress is moving too slowly on efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. But their potential resistance to compromise — even with other members of their own party — underscores just how hard a task Republicans have set for themselves.

Despite Obamacare uncertainty, Covered California signs up 412,000 new enrollees | Sacramento Bee | February 6, 2017

Buoyed by a last-minute influx of new enrollees, Covered California officials said Monday they signed up more than 412,000 new consumers for health care coverage, starting March 1. About 50,000 signed up in the last two days of open enrollment, which ended Jan. 31, according to Covered California. Young adults – ages 18 to 34 – accounted for more than a third of enrollments, which officials say will help keep overall premium costs down. This year, young adults accounted for about 37 percent of new Covered California enrollments, compared with 29 percent in 2014.

If Obamacare Is Being Repealed, Do The Uninsured Still Face Penalties? | Kaiser Health News | February 7, 2017

In some recent emails, readers asked about what to expect as Republicans move to overhaul the health law. Should people bother paying the penalty for not having health insurance when they file their taxes this year? Will they be able to sign up on the exchange for 2018 after their COBRA benefits end? Here are some answers.

Poverty & Homelessness

Nowhere to go: LA’s rental market continues to squeeze homeless programs | KPCC | February 10, 2017

Homeless services providers say L.A.’s rental market has gone from bad to worse in just the past few months—and that’s brought a standstill to efforts to get people off the street quickly.  ”We used to be able to house people in a month, now for some of our families it’s taking nine months,” said Cristina Nieto, senior manager of housing services for HOPICS, a placement agency in South Los Angeles. “It’s hard to tell people, ’sorry, you still have to be out on the street, there’s no housing available.’” HOPICS provides temporary rental assistance to formerly homeless to get them back on their feet, with the assumption they’ll eventually take over the rent themselves—an assumption that was easier to believe seven years ago, when the program started. 

Los Angeles County women are getting healthier, study finds, but poverty and homelessness rise | Los Angeles Daily News | February 8, 2017

More of Los Angeles County’s women now have medical insurance, are employed, don’t smoke and are less likely to die of breast cancer or heart disease, according to a report released Wednesday. But an increased number also live in poverty, are homeless and have difficulty accessing health care. The concluding message behind the data compiled in a triennial report by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is that while many gains have been made for women in the last several years, some challenges remain, including in education, wages and domestic violence, among other factors. All have an effect on women and their health in Los Angeles County, officials said during a news conference in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County steps up efforts to eradicate homelessness | Los Angeles Sentinel | February 8, 2017

Ethnically diverse advocates detailed their efforts to eradicate homelessness during New America Media’s forum at Skid Row Housing Trust’s Apartments on Feb. 3. Panelists hailed from African-American, Chinese, Latino and Korean backgrounds. The briefing focused on how L.A. County is working to raise awareness among our audiences about the diversity of its homeless population and how all ethnic groups have a stake in working to end it. From helping homeless men, women, and youth get back on their feet, to helping to curb socio-economic ills that contribute to their conditions, there has been progress. Advocates stressed keys to ending homelessness include permanent housing, more funding, public support and involvement, and cultural competent care. “Who we hire is important, and how they’re trained is also something we must pay close attention to. If we have a population that represents 40 percent of the homeless, we should hire folks that are reflective of their experience, that are sensitive to what they’ve been through,” said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president and CEO of St. Joseph Center.


What’s EITC and how do you get it? Earned income tax credit helps California’s low-income earners | Orange County Register | February 6, 2017

In better times, Tanya James would pay an accountant $250 to $350 to do her income taxes. As a successful small-business owner, she needed that expertise. But seven years ago, her youngest child’s disability forced James, a single mother of three, to scale back her working hours and drastically downsize financially. She went from an upper-middle-class lifestyle in Playa Vista, an area on the west side of Los Angeles dubbed “Silicon Beach,” to living elsewhere in the county at the poverty level with a disabled adult child. So the $325 in extra money that went to James in 2016 from the new California Earned Income Tax Credit was no small change. It helped cover household and educational costs – and eased her mind in case of emergency expenses.

Child Welfare

Foster families desperately needed in Ventura County | KEYT | February 7, 2017

New California legislation is making the need for foster parents bigger than ever before.  Local foster programs are hoping more families will step up to be foster parents in this time of need. Effective January 1st, new California legislation known as AB 403 is requiring all group homes for foster children and youth to obtain national accreditation and provide more specialized services to their residents, or shut their doors.  As a result, the need for supportive and well-trained foster families is more crucial than ever. “We currently have 1,200 children in the foster care system at the moment and we need 200 homes that can bring in a child and love them,” said Jaci Johnson with Foster VC Kids.

‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children | Los Angeles Times | February 8, 2017

The children were going to die. Mohamed Bzeek knew that. But in his more than two decades as a foster father, he took them in anyway — the sickest of the sick in Los Angeles County’s sprawling foster care system. He has buried about 10 children. Some died in his arms. Now, Bzeek spends long days and sleepless nights caring for a bedridden 6-year-old foster girl with a rare brain defect. She’s blind and deaf. She has daily seizures. Her arms and legs are paralyzed. Bzeek, a quiet, devout Libyan-born Muslim who lives in Azusa, just wants her to know she’s not alone in this life… Of the 35,000 children monitored by the county’s Department of Children and Family Services, there are about 600 children at any given time who fall under the care of the department’s Medical Case Management Services, which serves those with the most severe medical needs, said Rosella Yousef, an assistant regional administrator for the unit. There is a dire need for foster parents to care for such children.


California lawmaker wants to protect immigrants from having their personal information disclosed by state agencies | Los Angeles Times | February 7, 2017

A state senator has introduced a bill that would prohibit state agencies, higher education institutions and public service providers in California from disclosing the personal information of any of their applicants. Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has said his legislation aims to protect the data of immigrants who are in the country illegally, as President Trump’s administration has promised to identify and target a wider group of people for deportation. Under the provisions of the bill, schools and government agencies would be allowed to release personal information only in response to a warrant issued by a state or federal court in an individual criminal case.


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.