Community leaders seek healthcare funds for LA County’s uninsured

AffordableCareApril2014-ARNAs the enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act comes to an end, about one million people in Los Angeles County remain uninsured. Community groups and activist organizations are calling upon the Board of Supervisors to propose a plan for those still without healthcare.

Click play on an audio story from Annenberg Radio News to hear from those ineligible for Obamacare, as well as the voices of the people fighting on their behalf for another solution.

South LA health resources still in crticial condition


South L.A.’s Umma Clinic | Shaleeka Powell

South Los Angeles has one of the most medically underserved populations in the country and lacks basic and vital health resources, even with the help of a handful of new clinics and the recent rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Residents disproportionately lack high quality, accessible, affordable and comprehensive primary and preventive health care services, argues a petition from the South Los Angeles Health and Human Rights Coalition. The area’s mostly Latino and Black families earn a median income of roughly $35,000 a year, making healthcare costs a challenge. And undocumented immigrants, who make up about 40 percent of South L.A.’s uninsured, cannot sign up for coverage under Obamacare.

A handful of clinics, such as Umma Community Clinic, have stepped forward to help fill the gap. [Read more…]

Hundreds get free health care in South LA

Care Harbor's free medical clinic at the L.A. Sports Arena.  Photo credit:  Danielle Tarasuik

Care Harbor’s free medical clinic at the L.A. Sports Arena. Photo credit: Danielle Tarasuik

Hundreds of people lined up Thursday morning to receive free dental care, physicals, and eye exams Care Harbor L.A.’s annual free health clinic. This is Care Harbor’s fifth year organizing a free health clinic, but this year is different. It’s the first time the Affordable Care Act is available to the public. On one side of the LA Memorial Sports arena in South Los Angeles where the event was held, are booths with information on the Affordable Care Act and other health insurance options. People can also start the process of signing up for health insurance. Care Harbor LA’s free health clinic is a four day event and will end on Sunday. Event officials expect that each day will be packed with at least one-thousand people.
Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News featuring patients at the clinic:

South LA organizations praise court’s health care ruling

St. John’s President & CEO Jim Mangia addresses the crowd during the Thursday morning press conference. (Photos by Andrew Zappin for St. John’s Well Child and Family Center)

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act was a surprise and cause for celebration in South LA, where many low-income uninsured families live.

Shortly after the court’s announcement, a coalition of elected officials and local organizations representing patients, healthcare workers and community clinics held a joint press conference at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center to praise the decision that will extend insurance coverage to millions of additional Americans.

The court’s decision will benefit South LA residents who seek care at St. John’s. Right now, 61 percent of their patients are uninsured and 82 percent fall below the federal poverty level.

“What we can say today with certainty is that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of our government to ensure that all Americans have access to healthcare,” said St. John’s Well Child and Family Center President & CEO Jim Mangia. “President Obama staked an incredible amount of political capital and endured harsh attacks by opponents to pass legislation that affirms healthcare is a fundamental human right for everyone. This is a day of celebration.”

The Affordable Care Act will provide billions of dollars in funding to expand Medicaid to millions of low-income Americans. The law also includes $12 billion for the expansion of community health centers, which could benefit other South LA community clinics.

image“This is a great day for our President, our country and our local communities. Today’s Supreme Court ruling upholds what we have all known: that a person’s ability to stay healthy should not be a privilege for the few but a right for all,” said Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers. “It also means that LA County’s 2.2 million uninsured residents can breathe a little easier by knowing that they will have access to the care they and their families need.”

The coalition members that attended the press conference included St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, SEIU-United Long Term Care Workers, Congressmember Karen Bass, Senator Curren Price, Senator Kevin DeLeon, Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, NAACP Greater Los Angeles Chapter, Special Needs Network, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, and Brotherhood Crusade.

Solis visits St. John’s to discuss health reform

St. John’s President & CEO Jim Mangia leads the panel discussion, with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis getting ready to speak. (Photos: Andrew Zappin, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center)

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis today joined residents and health activists to celebrate the second anniversary of President Obama’s health reform at St. John’s Well Child and Family Center’s Louis C. Frayser Health Center in South Los Angeles.

Solis was part of a panel of speakers that included health leaders and patients that discussed the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Because of the Affordable Care Act, every single American, regardless of their circumstances will have access to affordable, quality health insurance,” said Solis during the event.

Jim Mangia, President & CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (SJWCFC), spoke about how the ACA has directly affected inner city and rural communities through significant funding for the expansion of federally qualified health centers.

Under the ACA, SJWCFC has received nearly $10 million to expand and renovate its facilities, adopt electronic health records, and open new community health centers in the poorest communities of South LA. This funding will enable the organization to provide tens of thousands additional patient visits each year.

“Here in our community, we see every day why health insurance reform was so desperately needed,” said Mangia. “We see firsthand the heartbreaking consequences when insurance companies defer treatment or deny coverage. Every day, our staff members interact with patients who couldn’t afford to see a doctor and had to go to the emergency department for something as simple as a sore throat.”

Members of the audience asked questions about how the ACA will help families reclaim their economic security, with one resident noting his family went bankrupt in order to pay his healthcare bills. Another resident told the audience and panelists that before the ACA, her insurance company denied her coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Many patients thanked Solis for the significant expansion of community health centers under the ACA, citing that uninsured residents would not have received health services were it not for community health centers like SJWCFC and others throughout Los Angeles County.

Advocates, citizens, leaders celebrate first birthday of health care bill

By: Julia Deng and Candice Winters


Listen to a story by Annenberg Radio News:


Lawmakers and advocates for health care revision joined voices and sliced into a large white birthday cake to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The auditorium at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center hosted a panel of speakers. Some spoke about how the act helped them. Others advocated continuing support for President Barack Obama and the law.

Dave Jones, California’s insurance commissioner, doesn’t see how anyone could not support the act.

“The money that we want to go toward our physicians and our nurses and our hospitals and our community clinics, the insurance companies view as a loss,” Jones said. “This law, the Affordable Care Act, makes sure they’re putting more of the money they’re collecting from us and our employers into provisions for health care.”

image The law was signed by Obama one year ago and will be phased in over a span of three years. For Nina Sharky, the act brought about a change in heath care coverage, but it wasn’t one she’d hoped for.

“The coverage that I have now is a shell of the coverage that I bought 20 years ago,” Sharky said. “And there are no laws that prevent them from changing coverage whenever they feel like it. Unfortunately, there is a wonderful provision in the ACA that can’t help me because it doesn’t come in until 2014. There are 800,000 people just like me.”

The act eliminates the clauses that exclude children who have certain medical conditions from being offered health insurance. Los Angeles congresswoman Karen Bass says this act has met opposition from republicans in Congress. They say with the federal and state budgets in such dire straits the country cannot afford to pay for it. Although there are some who are excluded from ACA benefits, Bass says it does more good than any available alternative.

“This is something that effects all of us,” Bass said. “I spent two and a half years in this hospital, coming to this hospital day in and day out with my step-daughter going through chemotherapy for leukemia. She’s now gonna be 20 years old, in great health. The reason she will have health care coverage today, is because we’re celebrating the one year anniversary of the affordable care act.”

Bass says that most Californians don’t know enough about health care. She hopes these events will change that.