News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – February 3, 2017

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: focus is on California’s Central Valley and why the Affordable Care Act is so critical to that region; an early intervention program in Ventura County is working to break the cycle of poverty for families; Contra Costa County’s local campaign to find more resource families is getting attention from the media and public; and Sen. Joel Anderson of San Diego reminds people why SB 1322, which became law January 1, is an important protection for child victims of sex trafficking.

Health Care

People from all around California are heading to the Central Valley to defend Obamacare. Here’s why | Los Angeles Times | February 2, 2017

The crowd of hundreds was ready to march, winding a circuitous route from a Bakersfield park to the nearby district office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy to rally in support of the Affordable Care Act. But before they hoisted their signs and joined in healthcare-themed chants, there was a quick geographic roll call. “How many of you are from Bakersfield?” asked the emcee. About half the attendees cheered. The rest had come from farther-flung homes: Long Beach, Sacramento, Riverside. They had traveled via chartered bus, largely with labor unions or grass-roots liberal groups, to the heart of the California effort to save Obamacare. A potent mix of politics and policy has drawn the Central Valley into the center of the debate around the future of the Affordable Care Act. It is the region in the state most transformed by the landmark healthcare law. It is also a rare Republican enclave in California, represented in Congress by members of the majority party that will determine the law’s fate — including McCarthy, who, as House majority leader, commands a top post in the GOP.

Obamacare repeal is a giant risk for California’s dwindling Republicans | McClatchy News | February 2, 2017

The last major Republican stronghold in California is one of the nation’s most dependent areas on Obamacare, creating an enormous political risk for the GOP congressmen who represent the area and are eager to repeal the health care law. They represent the inland expanse from the Mojave desert through the Central Valley, an area emerging as an important flashpoint in the battle over Obamacare. The tension is so heightened that a conservative group tied to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan is employing Spanish-language ads to build local support for replacing the health care law.

Q&A: Efforts To Extend Health Coverage To Undocumented Immigrants | California Healthline | February 3, 2017

California’s decision to withdraw a request for federal government permission to sell unsubsidized health plans to immigrants without papers has many wondering about the future of their health coverage in the state. Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, was the state lawmaker who made that request for a federal waiver from the rules — then pulled it back over fears that the new Trump administration would use immigrants’ information to deport them. Lara, who has become one of the most recognized voices for immigrants in the state, said that despite the setback, he and state legislators will continue efforts to protect the state’s undocumented communities and expand their health insurance options.

Obamacare More Popular Than Ever, Now That It May Be Repealed | New York Times | February 1, 2017

When the Affordable Care Act passed Congress in 2010, more Americans disliked it than liked it. And that was the pattern in public opinion for the next six years. But since Donald J. Trump, who promised to repeal the law, was elected president, that long-held pattern has begun to shift. In a variety of recent polls, with questions asked in different ways, more Americans are now saying they favor Obamacare than oppose it.

GOP Rebrands Obamacare Strategy From ‘Repeal’ to ‘Repair | Bloomberg | January 1, 2017

Some Republicans in Congress are starting to talk more about trying to “repair” Obamacare, rather than simply calling for “repeal and replace.” There’s good reason for that. The repair language was discussed by Republicans during their closed-door policy retreat in Philadelphia last week as a better way to brand their strategy. Some of that discussion flowed from views that Republicans may not be headed toward a total replacement, said one conservative House lawmaker who didn’t want to be identified.

Could California go it alone with Obamacare? How much are you willing to pay? | Mercury News | January 30, 2017

How much would Californians be willing to spend to keep Obamacare in the Golden State? That’s a question lawmakers might be asking residents in the months to come as President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress scurry to repeal the Affordable Care Act and scramble for a plan to replace it. One GOP-generated proposal would allow individual states to keep Obamacare-style health insurance — for a price. And that ultimately could force California voters to decide whether they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to continue providing subsidized insurance coverage for at least 5 million residents. How much — and to cover how many? That’s still a wide-open question.

Local health care facilities in Humboldt County brace for ACA loss | Times Standard | January 28, 2017

If the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act proceeds without a replacement, southern Humboldt County health care facilities will face nearly $3 million in losses. “In three years, we’ve experienced a 5 to 7 percent increase in clients and witnessed what was once 60 percent of those uninsured drop down to 23 percent uninsured,” Tina Tvedt, executive director of Redwood Rural Health in Redway, said. Tvedt — having studied the worst case scenario of a repeal of the ACA at her facility — said that without a meaningful replacement, her facility would be looking at staff layoffs.

California’s undocumented kids could be first to lose medical care under Trump | calMatters | January 25, 2017

On a recent rainy morning in Los Angeles, Maria Bernal’s stove clicks to life with a bright blue flame to toast bread on a griddle for her 9-year-old son Edwin to smear with peanut butter. As she scoops papaya chunks into the blender for a smoothie, she recalls her worry during all the years when she couldn’t afford health care and he suffered painful ear infections. The waiting six months to get an appointment for Edwin at a county facility. The nights trying to calm him as he cried in constant pain. The months-long wait for each of three surgeries to insert tubes into his ears. The fear when the medical bills arrived. At the time, she couldn’t afford health care, and he was not eligible for regular government-funded Medi-Cal because she had brought Edwin to the United States illegally from Mexico when he was 1. He qualified for a local program and emergency Medi-Cal, but that didn’t provide all the care he needed. Then last year, she heard on TV that California was creating a new program under Medi-Cal to fully cover poor undocumented children. Relieved, she rushed to sign Edwin up. As a result, she says, “I can take him in whenever he needs to go.”

Federal Administration

Trump draft executive order full of sound and fury on immigration, welfare and deportation | Washington Post | February 2, 2017

A draft plan, under discussion inside the Trump administration, promises to exclude would-be immigrants who might need public assistance and to deport, whenever possible, those already dependent on welfare. The draft executive order, as written, illuminates one of the ways in which the Trump administration plans to deliver on campaign-trail promises to halt what candidate Trump repeatedly described as the intentional abuse of American social service programs. The effort, as described, appears to want to reduce immigrants’ impact on American taxpayers and the workforce. But there are just a few problems with Trump’s draft order.


New poverty report: One-third of San Diego families can’t make ends meet | San Diego Union-Tribune | January 31, 2017

One-third of San Diego County’s working-age households don’t earn enough money to make ends meet, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Center on Policy Initiatives. “This means that over a million people in San Diego are living in economic insecurity, are living on the edge, and are worried about their next meal,” said Peter Brownell, research director for the institute, a nonprofit economic and social justice analysis and advocacy group. The numbers are better than they were in 2014, the last time the institute issued a similar report. Then, about 38 percent of San Diego families were below the “self-sufficiency standard.”


Ventura Program Aims to Break the Cycle of Homelessness by Intervening Early | California Health Report | January 31, 2017

Homelessness has been a recurring theme in Nicole Coryell’s life. As a teenager, Coryell — a Ventura resident — lived on the streets with her mom who was battling drug addiction, she said. Later, addicted to drugs herself, she spent two years sleeping on friends’ couches. Now age 22 and living in a shelter, Coryell recently gave birth to a daughter of her own. Although statistically the odds are stacked against her, she said she’s determined to break the cycle of parental neglect, homelessness and instability that have marred her own life experience.

There are 63,000 homeless children in school in LA County | KPCC | January 25, 2017

A tally across L.A. County’s public and charter schools counted nearly 63,000 homeless students last school year, 2015-2016. That’s about a 17 percent jump from the prior school year’s count of 54,000 kids. “Even though we’re supposed to be in a better place, financially as a country, that hasn’t really rolled down to our families,” said Melissa Schoonmaker, homeless liaison with the L.A. County Office of Education, which collects the numbers.  A fraction of the rise, she said, could be attributed to problematic data from the prior year that led to an undercount. But more prominently, she said, it’s the high cost of living in Los Angeles coupled with incomes that haven’t kept up.  ”If you’re making minimum wage, you have to work three full-time jobs to afford ‘affordable housing,’” she said.

Child Welfare

Face of foster care changing - Contra Costa County promotes ”Change the Life of a Child and Your Own” campaign. | East Bay Times | January 3, 2017

The photos on the wall in Lori Olivera’s home of almost all of the 35 children she has fostered in nine years have an overarching message: “Forever in Our Hearts.”  “I never wanted to forget a face,” she says, noting the many foster youth with whom she has maintained contact, and some celebrating holidays together. The Alamo mother of five counters the notion of taking in more foster children spreads one too thin. “When you meet these children, it’s never too much,” Olivera says. “My kids bunked their bedrooms. We put some more water in the soup pot. You throw one more car seat in the car. There’s always room for more.” As part of the state’s Continuum of Care Reform, the face of foster care is changing in California as a result of new legislation, AB 403, effective Jan. 1, which phases out the traditional group home model and streamlines the approval process for applicants interested in providing emergency and temporary foster care to those pursuing permanent adoption of their foster child.

Child Sex Trafficking

Dozens of women and children rescued in human-trafficking sweep in California that nets 474 arrests | Los Angeles Times | February 2, 2017

A multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking in California last week ended with hundreds of arrests and dozens of victimized women and children being rescued, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced. The sweep, named “Operation Reclaim and Rebuild,” lasted from Jan. 26 to Jan. 28 and involved federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and task forces, including the Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, officials said.

Protecting victims is a conservative value | Washington Examiner | February 2, 2017 | Op-ed by Sen. Joel Anderson

Protecting the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society is our job as legislators. As vice-chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, I proudly joined legislators from across the aisle to do just that. California’s Senate Bill 1322 recognized exploited children involved in sex trafficking for what they truly are: victims, not criminals.

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.