News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – November 18, 2016

Media memo

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More than 300,000 signed up for Obamacare after Trump was elected | Los Angeles Times | November 16, 2016

Signups for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act continued to surge this month amid anxiety about the future of the law under President-elect Donald Trump, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The flood of people signing up since enrollment began Nov. 1 surpassed 1 million on Saturday, outpacing enrollment from last year, new data show. The signups, which accelerated after last week’s election, highlight anew the high stakes in the coming battle over repealing Obamacare, which Trump and his congressional allies have pledged to do early next year.

If Obamacare is repealed, California has the most to lose — putting the insured on edge | Los Angeles Times | November 13, 2016

California led the way with Obamacare, signing up more people for health insurance than any other state. Now with a possibility that President-elect Donald Trump will repeal the law, as he has promised, the stakes are higher here than anywhere else. “We’ve basically cut the number of uninsured in a little bit more than half, which is enormous progress,” said Dr. Gerald Kominski, head of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. But California’s huge gains also mean that if the Affordable Care Act is undone, “we have the most to lose.” GOP leaders have said they’ll quickly repeal and replace President Obama’s signature healthcare law after Trump takes office in January. But experts say it’s unlikely the entire law would be immediately overturned, in part because that would leave more than 20 million Americans without health insurance.

Voters Approve Permanent Fee to Fund Medi-Cal | KQED | November 9, 2016

California voters have approved Proposition 52, a ballot measure that makes permanent a fee on hospitals that helps fund Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance plan for low-income Californians. The measure was proposed by hospitals, who spent more than $60 million to promote it. Dignity Health alone spent $8,478,390 to promote the proposition. With all precincts reporting, the measure passed 70-30 percent in unofficial results. The fee currently draws $3.5 billion a year in federal matching funds. Hospitals say the fee system provides a major source of funding for Medi-Cal patients. The fee system is routinely renewed by the Legislature but requires support from a two-thirds super-majority of lawmakers. Hospitals say permanently extending it ensures the funding source is protected from politics. A union representing health care workers opposed the measure, saying it benefits wealthy hospital executives.

Covered California restores coverage for thousands of pregnant women | California Healthline | November 7, 2016

Covered California has fixed its computer system to prevent pregnant women in a certain income range from being transferred into Medi-Cal without their knowledge or consent. The fix comes nearly a year after the problem began. Between October 2015 and May of this year, about 2,000 pregnant women were automatically dropped from their Covered California plans and placed into Medi-Cal, even though they had the right to stay with the state insurance exchange. Some women lost their established doctors or missed prenatal appointments.

Child Welfare

Nadine Burke Harris Carries Message about Child Trauma to White House and Back | Chronicle of Social Change | November 16, 2016

The efforts of pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris to address of trauma experienced early in life have vaulted her to national attention. In September, Burke Harris earned recognition from the Heinz Foundation for her work to establish a system to screen and treat children who are dealing with toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, poverty and violence. The annual Heinz Award honors five “exceptional Americans, for their creativity and determination in finding solutions to critical issues.” The prestigious Heinz Award for the Human Condition comes with a $250,000 prize. Recently profiled by the Washington Post, Burke Harris was recognized for her work at the San Francisco-based Center for Youth Wellness (CYW). There, she has worked to address the needs of families in the low-income neighborhood of Bayview-Hunters Point by using the emerging understanding of the impact of ACEs on lifelong health outcomes.


Study: Many Caregivers Spend $7K Annually Out Of Pocket | Kaiser Health News | November 14, 2016

Denise Sleeper has sold her home, spent most of her retirement savings and quit her job to care for her husband since his Alzheimer’s disease struck two years ago. “It’s been like a tsunami in my life,” said Sleeper, of Gilford, N.H. She’s drained $168,000 from the couple’s retirement account since her husband, Scott, was diagnosed with the degenerative illness. At first, she cared for him at home, but he’s in a nursing home now. Sleeper gets by on his disability checks and the $32,000 left in their 401k. Stories like those are common among the nation’s 40 million family caregivers whose out-of-pocket costs are under-recognized, according to an AARP survey out Monday. More than 3 out of 4 caregivers absorb out-of-pocket costs currently averaging nearly $7,000 a year, AARP found. Those costs consumed the equivalent of a fifth of caregivers’ incomes on average — and the burdens were even greater for those with lower incomes, the group reported. The most financially strapped caregivers tap savings or take out loans to meet expenses.

A Remedy for Today’s “Epidemic of Loneliness” | California Health Report | November 17, 2016

Five years ago, the spacious lobby of the Hotel Oakland was an echo chamber. A century ago the hotel was one of the nation’s most illustrious. Then the Great Depression crippled the majestic site, which became a military hospital during World War II. Located just outside Chinatown in Oakland, it eventually became affordable housing for Asian elders who spent most of their days home alone. “It was a no-man’s land,” recalls Bill Langelier, owner of Hotel Oakland. Spurred by the experiences of his mother in four different long-term care facilities – “all of them woefully inadequate” — Langelier had an idea. He decided to transform the Hotel Oakland from a simple housing complex into a haven for health and social connection. Today called the Hotel Oakland Village – in alliance with the country’s blossoming village movement – the senior living site features 15 Health Groups that include exercise, healthy eating, gardening, personal safety, healthy minds, and the immensely popular Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Some residents have joined them all… Langelier’s goal was to mitigate the devastating health effects of social isolation — and today’s “epidemic of loneliness” — by putting older adults in charge of their own health.


Where Are All the Social Workers Going? | Governing | November 17, 2016

Turnover in public-sector jobs is a ubiquitous problem. But when it comes to social services, the problem is particularly painful. One well-known study found that with one caseworker, the chance for a child to achieve a permanent and stable living situation was 74 percent. If a child had two caseworkers in one year, the odds dropped to 17 percent. With three caseworkers, it was a mere 5 percent. “Turnover is devastating,” said Scott McCown, a former judge and now director of the Children’s Rights Center at the University of Texas Law School. “If you’re a caseworker, you develop a relationship with the parent and child. That’s what helps you help them. But every time there’s turnover, you start from scratch.”

There’s a Startling Increase in Major Depression Among Teens in the U.S. | Time | November 15, 2016

Describing teens as moody and angsty is an old cliche. That stage of life is loaded with drama and intense feelings. And it was ever thus—just go back read your high school diary for evidence. But while anxiety and sadness aren’t new phenomena among adolescents, there’s been a significant increase in the percentage of young people aged 12-20 who have reported having a major depressive episode (MDE). A study of national trends in depression among adolescents and young adults published in the journal Pediatrics on November 14 found that the prevalence of teens who reported an MDE in the previous 12 months jumped from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014. That’s a 37 percent increase. (An MDE is defined as a period of at least two weeks of low mood that is present in most situations. Symptoms include low self-esteem, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, and problems with sleep, energy and concentration.)


How to Persuade the Public to Care About Other People’s Problems | Governing | November 10, 2016

When trying to win support for an antipoverty program like welfare, it’s not whatyou’re saying that’s most important, it’s how you’re saying it. At least according to a study by the FrameWorks Institute, a nonprofit research organization focused on the communication of ideas in social policy. Nat Kendall-Taylor, FrameWorks’ CEO, says that many officials in human services don’t think of themselves as messengers who can shape the way the public perceives and responds to social problems. But they should. By embracing their communications role and making intentional decisions about messaging, Kendall-Taylor argues officials can do a better job promoting the most effective policy solutions.