February 12 Open Thread


*  Tom Campbell has raised about as much money for his senate campaign, about $700 K, than he did for governor in a year.

*  Is abstaining = voting no? Kinda sorta.

*  Republican registration continues to fall. It set a new all-time low at 30.8% statewide.

*  DiFi is getting kinda scary on water issues. She’s always been tight with the Westside farmers, but if more action comes out of this chuminess, it’s not going to be good for the Delta.

2 thoughts on “February 12 Open Thread”

  1. Before Democrats start celebrating the GOP registration figures, just remember that Democrats were once below 30%.  They were at 20% in 1930 and by 1932 they were at 40%.

  2. Here is a good article discussing some of the challenges to health care from the state budget crisis. In my county, one very busy health care center has already closed because of budget issues. Rural health clinics see 50% of the patients in this county; for example, one clinic, which does not receive any federal funds and is thus very vulnerable, is the only health care available in the Anderson Valley, an important wine growing region. (AV wines were served at Obama’s inaugural luncheon.) The nearest alternatives are an hour’s drive away.


    Despite the fact that Cathy Frey, executive director of the Alliance for Rural Community Health, says she must take a “wait and see” attitude toward this year’s State budget, she and her colleagues at community clinics throughout the county are preparing for devastating cuts to an already weakened health care delivery system.

    ARCH, which includes the Anderson and Long Valley Health Centers, as well as the Mendocino Coast Clinics, the Mendocino Community Health Clinic and Redwood Coast Medical Health Services, provided primary care services to 47,000 people in 2009. “We served 50 percent of our county’s population. No other group in the State can claim this accomplishment,” says Frey.

    “The Governor is proposing eliminating even more of what he considers optional benefits,” says Frey. Those include physical therapy, medical equipment and supplies, prosthetics, hearing aids, hospice, occupational therapy, rehabilitation for mental health patients and substance abuse treatment. “He is also proposing reductions in Medi-Cal eligibility. This will put more and more people into an uninsured category.”

    Additional proposals on the chopping block include the elimination of

    the Family Planning Project and the Every Woman Counts Project- which addresses breast and cervical cancer issues.

    Frey explains because the State is facing a $6.9 billion deficit, the administration is again faced with cutting where no cuts are possible. “Irrespective of the deficit, the Governor is again suggesting the elimination of the Adult Day Health Care Program, and reducing benefits and increasing premiums for the Healthy Families Program,” Frey notes. There is even talk of quashing vision benefits for children, according to Frey.

    “The State is in such dire financial straits that cuts will happen,” Frey notes. She says another impact for Mendocino County is the distinct possibility that Medi-Cal itself will move into a managed care system. “This was originally proposed in 2005 and has been put on hold, but the State is pushing hard for it.”

    Frey says that a Medi-Cal managed care system would “pose a whole host of challenges for a rural county,” noting that managed care is traditionally implemented in urban areas with a greater physician population and more access to a wide array of medical services.

    Currently the State is in discussion with the Partnership Health Plan of California, which created a managed care system in Solano County and more recently moved into Napa, Yolo and Sonoma Counties. “They are probably better than Blue Cross/Blue Shield because of their slightly local presence,” says Frey.

    Medi-Cal patients would be assigned to a provider who would act as gatekeeper for all of their health care. “You would go through your primary doctor for everything- specialty care or simple illness,” explains Frey. She is unsure how successful a program like this would be in Mendocino County.

    “When you think about specialists and hospitals, take that structure and put it into our county, it may not be viable. We have serious transportation issues and a lack of specialists. A patient in Laytonville could be told she has to go to a doctor in Vallejo or Santa Rosa (a 3 and 2 hour drive, respectively). Is the managed care organization picking up the tab for the transportation?” Frey asks.

    Frey is a sensible, resourceful, problem-solving lady and we’re lucky to have her level head serving the county in this capacity. It’s going to be a tough year ahead.

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