News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – January 20, 2017

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: studies and stories continue to show the dire effects for people and local economies if the Affordable Care Act is repealed; online publication TalkPoverty takes a closer look at a recent SNAP study on household purchasing and finds no major differences in the expenditure patterns of SNAP and non-SNAP households, despite what a major news article mislead readers to believe; and survivors of child sex trafficking make it clear why a new California law ending the practice of arresting sex trafficked children is so important.

Health Care

California Withdraws Bid To Allow Undocumented Immigrants To Buy Unsubsidized Obamacare Plans | California Healthline | January 20, 2017

Lawmakers in Sacramento have halted a first-in-the-nation effort by California to expand access to health coverage for immigrants living in the state without legal documents. At the behest of the state Legislature, Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, withdrew its request to sell unsubsidized health plans to people who are here illegally. The withdrawal was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

Repealing Obamacare without replacement would hike premiums 20% and leave 18 million uninsured, report says | Los Angeles Times | January 17, 2017

Repealing Obamacare without a replacement would result in higher costs for consumers and fewer people with insurance coverage, according to a report Tuesday from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In the first year, insurance premiums would jump by 20% to 25% for individual policies purchased directly or through the Obamacare marketplace, according to the report. The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million.

Repeal of Obamacare would cost Valley more jobs than those lost to drought, study says | The Fresno Bee | January 17, 2016

A University of California blog post Tuesday says a repeal of Obamacare would cost the San Joaquin Valley an estimated 24,000 jobs – which is more than were lost statewide in 2015 because of the drought. Repealing the Affordable Care Act would result in 17,000 fewer jobs from a reduced demand and funding for health care services, said the UC Berkeley Labor Center for Labor Research.

13.5 million Californians are covered by Medi-Cal. Here’s how Trump’s plan could cost the state | Los Angeles Times | January 16, 2017

Along with his vow to repeal Obamacare, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to restructure Medicaid, the nation’s low-income health program — a move that could be acutely felt in California, where 1 in 3 residents receive health coverage through the state version, experts say. Medi-Cal enrollment surged by 5 million over the last three years to a total of 13.5 million under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Obamacare has made a difference for San Francisco | San Francisco Chronicle | January 13, 2017 | By Barbara Garcia and Trent Rhorer

There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of Obamacare, with pledges by the president-elect and congressional Republicans to repeal it immediately. At this point, we don’t know what the outcome will be but we do know that our San Francisco values have not changed. The benefits of expanding health care insurance touch our entire community. Thousands more San Franciscans now have a primary care doctor, access to preventive care and to San Francisco’s high-quality providers and hospitals. Data show improvements since passage of the Affordable Care Act: Fewer San Franciscans are delaying needed care. More San Franciscans assess their own health as good or better.

Obamacare repeal could cost jobs in Ventura County | Ventura County Star | January 13, 2017

Repealing the Affordable Care Act could take away 4,000 jobs from Ventura County and cost $331 million in lost goods and services, according to University of California, Berkeley, researchers. Hospitals, clinics and other health entities that met the flood of 55,000 uninsured Ventura County residents who gained coverage through the health care law would absorb more than 70 percent of the job loss. Real estate firms, insurance agencies and restaurants could be hit too, partly because out-of-work health care employees would spend less.

Study: Obamacare repeal to cost Sonoma County 2,000 jobs, $200M | The Press Democrat | January 13, 2017

Guerneville resident Alicia Tighe had no health insurance in late 2013 when she fell seriously ill and was hospitalized for about a month. Tighe, now 26, lost coverage after leaving her retail job to focus on classes at Empire College in Santa Rosa, where she was studying to become a medical assistant. But Tighe said she was able to receive quality care through Medi-Cal coverage she secured because of an expansion of eligibility requirements allowed by the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law. “If Obamacare wasn’t around, I don’t know what would have happened to me, or the type of care I would have received,” Tighe said. “I’m just really thankful that it’s there.” But it may not stay there much longer. The federal health care law has once again come into the crosshairs of Republican lawmakers, who have long sought to repeal the legislation and now have a qualified endorsement from President-elect Donald Trump.


In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Not What the New York Times Reported | TalkPoverty | January 16, 2017

A November 2016 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture examined the food shopping patterns of American households who currently receive nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) compared with those not receiving aid. Its central finding? “There were no major differences in the expenditure patterns of SNAP and non-SNAP households, no matter how the data were categorized.” But you wouldn’t know that from reading the New York Times’ front-page story last Friday. The headline announced “In the Shopping Cart of a Food Stamp Household: Lots of Soda,” and the article was flanked by photos of a grocery cart overflowing with 2-liter bottles of soft drinks and a store aisle that is nothing but a wall of soda.

Child Welfare – Continuum of Care Reform

With group homes coming to an end, Stanislaus County seeks families to care for troubled foster kids | Modesto Bee | January 20, 2017

State-mandated reforms to foster care will eliminate group homes in Stanislaus and other counties, and bring other changes expected to challenge the child welfare system. Around 3,000 of the 60,000 foster children in California – who are removed from their parents due to abuse or neglect – are placed in group homes for special therapy and care. But long-term residential care is now largely considered a failure. The state wants to reduce reliance on group homes and place the more difficult foster kids with nurturing families that are trained and given professional support to meet their needs.

Child Sex Trafficking

Girls in sex trafficking need help, not prison, former victims say | Orange County Register | January 18, 2017

Gregory Leon Hightower pimped young girls up and down the West Coast, from Seattle and Portland all the way to Orange County, where they worked in the shadow of the Happiest Place on Earth. “He would store us at the Motel 6, which is about two blocks from the Disneyland main entrance, while we worked Harbor Boulevard from Anaheim, Santa Ana and Garden Grove,” said Wendy Barnes, who was swept under Hightower’s spell with exhortations of love and romance when she was a troubled 15-year-old, eager for love…. Hightower ran girls as young as 14 and 15, all ensnared in a singular, unimaginable kind of hell, Barnes writes in a riveting book about her experience, “And Life Continues: Sex Trafficking and My Journey to Freedom.”… Hightower was arrested repeatedly, and eventually sentenced to life in prison in Oregon for encouraging child sexual abuse and promoting and compelling prostitution. Barnes was swept up as well. Today, she’d likely be considered a victim, but 17 years ago, at 29, she was also charged with promoting prostitution… She’s one of 16 sex-trafficking survivors blasting Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, for his stance on a new law that forbids the arrest of children for prostitution in California.

Human Trafficking Survivors Refuse to Be Used As Partisan Weapon - Survivor Response Piece

On January 1st, California ended the cruel practice of arresting sex trafficked children. As human trafficking survivors who live and were trafficked in California, we advocated for this law to prevent children today from living with the pain and shame of being criminalized for their exploitation. This was a victory in the fight against human trafficking. This is why it was so harmful for Assemblymember Travis Allen to claim that “California Democrats” had “legalized child prostitution” in his December 29 piece in the Washington Examiner

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.