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LAPD Officers Investigated for Operating Youth Boot Camp, Are SF Juvenile Probation Camps Violating Exercise Rules…and More

August 2nd, 2012 by Taylor Walker

(Skip ahead 48 seconds into video for boot camp footage.)

LAPD OFFICERS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR RUNNING A HARSH MILITARY-STYLE BOOT-CAMP OUTSIDE THE UMBRELLA OF THE LAPD

LAPD officers Ismael Gonzalez and Alex Nava are under investigation for operating a militaristic youth boot camp unbeknownst to LAPD officials. The camp, which has been running since February, employs scare tactics, ridicule, and harsh physical conditions to reform at risk youth.

LA Daily News’ Dakota Smith has the story. Here’s a clip:

The camp, in operation since February, employed aggressive tactics, including taunting and screaming at children by Los Angeles Department of General Services police officers, according to video footage posted on YouTube.

One child taking part in a March class looks in the video no older than 5 or 6 years of age, though most participants appeared to be teens or pre-teens.

“We didn’t know about this program, this wasn’t an LAPD program,” said LAPD spokesman Commander Andy Smith, who said the department will investigate both the class and the conduct of the two officers.

The Department of General Services is also investigating the class, said general manager Tony Royster. The program is not affiliated with the department, Royster wrote in an email.

The Hollywood program was run by two officers, Ismael Gonzalez and Alex Nava, both from the LAPD’s Central Division. In a brief interview over the weekend, Gonzalez said he modeled the program after LAPD’s Juvenile Impact Program, a department-sanctioned boot camp which also uses military-style tactics to scare juveniles straight.

“We saw the program was good and effective, and so we started our own,” he said.

Gonzalez and Nava called their class the Juvenile Intervention Program. A LLC for the class was formed last November, while their website states the program is a registered non-profit. They charged $200 – twice the amount charged by the LAPD’s program.

(Note: In order to get to the LAPD officer’s boot camp footage, you have to make it through a very loud intro in Spanish.)


SF JUVIE PROBATION DEPT. SAYS THEY PROVIDE HOUR OF EXERCISE FOR KIDS, BUT WON’T PROVIDE DATA PROOF

The San Francisco Youth Commission requested information on SF’s Juvenile Probation Dept. after hearing claims that juvies were not receiving their legally mandated hour of exercise per day. The probation department said they do not keep logs and would not release the information for inmate confidentiality reasons.

California Watch’s Trey Bundy has the story. Here’s how it opens:

The San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department says it is providing detainees with their legally mandated hour of outdoor exercise per day, but it has not provided data substantiating that claim, according to the city’s Board of Supervisors and Youth Commission.

The board asked William Siffermann, the chief of juvenile probation, for the data in May, after David Chiu, board president, said supervisors had heard anecdotal evidence that detainees were not getting their hour of exercise.

Mario Yedidia, director of the Youth Commission, said Siffermann has “told us in no uncertain terms that he would not be providing us with that data because it would violate the confidentiality of detainees.”

Advocates for juvenile detainees say that the hour of exercise is crucial for the young offenders’ physical and mental health.

Siffermann said this week that his staff does not log the participation of each detainee in outdoor activities, but that he has begun providing the commission with information on the overall daily use of outdoor recreation spaces, and that he would do the same for the board.

A 2010 state evaluation of the city’s Juvenile Justice Center, a detention facility near Twin Peaks that typically houses 50 to 80 young offenders who are 13 to 18 years old, found no code violations of any kind.

In an interview on Monday, Chiu asked, “I’d like to understand how the department passed state standards if they have yet to provide us the data to demonstrate that they’re in compliance.”


NEW CA PRISON MEDICAL FACILITY WILL BE LARGEST IN U.S.

In an effort to comply with the long-standing court order to improve the medical care prison inmates receive, the CDCR is in the midst of building the largest prison medical facility in the nation.

KPCC’s Julie Small has the story. Here’s a clip:

For years, Californians voted to lengthen prison sentences. That means more felons are behind bars well past the age when chronic disease develops. The federal receiver’s office says that more than half the state’s inmates — nearly 70,000 — get treatment for a chronic condition.

The state is legally required to provide adequate medical and mental health care. It didn’t always do a good job at that.

About a decade ago, when lawyers showed that an inmate a week was dying from lack of care, a federal judge seized control of prison medical care in California and appointed the receiver to improve it. Later, a federal court ordered the state to reduce its prison population to improve medical care.

“This is the way forward,” says Nate Elam, warden at the California Health Care Facility and its medical CEO. “This is probably a turning point for the state of California.”

Elam dons a hard hat to tour the skeleton of one of the main medical building. It’s the size of a couple of football fields, flanked by buildings that are just as big. Elam lists the kind of services they’ll be able to offer in these buildings.

“So we’ve got pharmacy and lab and some of those sorts of services over here. We’ve got procedure areas, dental, rehabilitative services.” He asks Meredith, “Where are we putting the dialysis?”

The idea is to hub the sickest inmates in one place, to save on costs and produce better results. Many of the inmates who’ll be sent to the facility in Stockton need 24-hour nursing care. Right now, a lot of those inmates take up critical care bed space at prisons — and that forces the state to send other inmates to outside hospitals at a cost of $2,000 a day.

Kincaid says the Stockton facility will solve that problem.

“This allows us to shift around that population as they age — have mobility issues and need that long-term care setting, to come to a place where they can accommodate that, free up other beds and keep more people out of outside hospitals,” Kincaid said.

Posted in juvenile justice, LAPD, medical care, prison | 2 Comments »

Tattoo Removal for Former Prostitutes, Two-Thirds Louisiana Prison Doctors Have Disciplinary Records, and Ralph Nader Wants Prez Candidates to Address Prison Issues

July 31st, 2012 by Taylor Walker

NEW CA BILL WOULD EXTEND TATTOO REMOVAL SERVICES TO FORMER PROSTITUTES AND VICTIMS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING

A new California bill seeks to provide free tattoo removal services to former prostitutes and others branded by tattoos meant to identify them within the sex trade. (Homeboy Industries is currently providing the service for free.)

Megan O’Neil has the story for the Pasadena Sun. Here’s how it opens:

A man’s name is scrawled across Krystal Lopez’s neck in black lettering like that of a centuries-old manuscript.

It is a bitter souvenir for the 18-year-old Pasadena resident, who has worked hard to sever ties with the former pimp who inspired it and the lifestyle it represents. She has started laser treatments to have the tattoo removed at Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit supporting ex-gang members that provides the service for free.

Lopez doesn’t fit the Homeboy profile, though. She has never been in a gang, and as a result, she and others like her are deep in the queue.

“There are girls I know who have three different people on them,” Lopez said. “There is a huge waiting list for [removal services]. The priority is always the gang members.”

The wait soon may be pared down. Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is shepherding through the California Legislature a bill that would expand the pool of people eligible for state-facilitated, federally-funded tattoo removal services to include those tattooed for identification in human trafficking or prostitution.


SIXTY PERCENT OF DOCTORS AT LOUISIANA STATE PRISONS HAVE BEEN DISCIPLINED

Nine out of the fifteen resident doctors at Louisiana state prisons have received sanctions by the state medical board for criminal activity ranging from drug dealing to sex crimes.

The Times-Picayune’s Cindy Chang has the story. Here’s how it opens:

Of the 15 doctors working full-time at Louisiana state prisons, nearly two-thirds have been disciplined by the state medical board for issues ranging from pedophilia to substance abuse to dealing methamphetamines.

Two have served federal prison time. Five are still on probation with the medical board and have restrictions on their licenses, including bans on prescribing controlled substances. Altogether, nine have received the rare black mark of a board sanction.

Louisiana state prisons appear to be dumping grounds for doctors who are unable to find employment elsewhere because of their checkered pasts, raising troubling moral questions as well as the specter of an accident waiting to happen. At stake is the health of nearly 19,000 prisoners who are among the most vulnerable of patients because they have no health care options.

About 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have disciplinary records, compared with 2 percent of the state’s 16,000 or so licensed medical doctors, according to data from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. The medical board is aware of the prison pipeline — in fact, a board-employed headhunter has sometimes helped problem doctors get prison gigs.

“Aside from being unethical, it is dangerous,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a physician and director of health research at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “You’re winding up having people who don’t have any choice being where they are, getting taken care of by people with demonstrable previous records and problems with the way they practice medicine.”


NADER’S THOUGHTS ON THE BROKEN PRISON SYSTEM

Ralph Nader’s new opinion piece for the Register Citizen explores the problems within the current prison system and the corruption of the privatized prison industry. Here’s a clip:

Ever visit a major prison? The vast majority of Americans have not, despite our country having by far a higher incarceration rate per capita than China or Iran. Out of sight is out of mind.

Imagine the benefits of the average taxpayer touring a prison. The lucrative prison-industrial complex would definitely not like public exposure of their daily operations. Prison CEOs have no problem with a full house of non-violent inmates caught with possession of some street drugs (not alcohol or tobacco). Our horrendous confinement system cannot change when it clings to perverse practices such as cruel, costly, arbitrary, mentally destructive solitary confinement (again, the highest in the world, see: http://solitarywatch.com/). Corporate profits drive the prison system’s insanity.

Indeed, for the giant Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), times are booming. CCA builds their prisons or buys or leases public prisons from financially strapped governments. Barron’s financial weekly can always be expected to give us the Wall Street perspective. In a recent article titled “Ready to Bust Out,” writer Jonathan R. Laing (http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111903882904577477001345171564.html) is bullish on CCA stock. He thinks it could double to more than $50 a share if the company were to convert to a real estate investment trust (REIT).

Mr. Laing writes that CCA has cost advantages over the public-prison sector, paying lower non-union wages and using more automated technology. Besides, the company is a tough bargainer when it buys or operates public prisons. One CCA condition is that the facility must have 1,000 beds, can’t be more than 25 years old, and get this, “the contract must guarantee a 90 percent occupancy rate.” A guarantee backed by taxpayers no less, unless, that is, the clause works to put more prisoners in jail for longer sentences.

The Barron’s article adds that CCA is counting on “the old standby of recidivism to keep prison head counts growing, filling its empty beds.” To the impoverished rural communities where these prisons are located, it’s about needed jobs.

The criminal injustice system has many faults, other than an inadequate number of beds filled with convicted corporate crooks. As the Justice Roundtable (http://justiceroundtable.com/), composed of a collation of over 50 national organizations, declares, “The current punitive system depletes budgets without making society safer…The Archaic system must be reformed to be rehabilitative, just and accountable.”

How naïve! Don’t these experienced people know that first they have to change the purposes of this system? Instead of wanting more prisoners and treating them in such ways that when they get out they are too unskilled and damaged to overcome the society’s exclusionary pressures that half of them end up back in jail, they should be training these prisoners to be contributing members of society. But that’s the problem of the gigantic prison machine that thrives on returning prisoners.

Posted in criminal justice, Homeboy Industries, medical care, prison, Reentry | No Comments »

Veteran PTSD Stigma, Homeboy & the Solar Industry, and Twitterature…

May 25th, 2012 by Taylor Walker


VETERANS COME HOME FROM BATTLE TO FACE PTSD STIGMA

In honor of Memorial Day–and because it’s an issue of great import–we thought veteran PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and the attached stigma an appropriate topic. PTSD is not given the same validity as visible injury. Veterans who return home from service with invisible injuries such as PTSD are often perceived as weak, instead of deserving of honor and support. Maybe if we were to stop stigmatizing our veterans, we could move next to understanding our inner city kids with PTSD on par with that of service members.

Time’s Frank M. Ochberg addresses the issue. Here’s a clip:

There are a few dozen of us who are considered the pioneers of the modern era of traumatic-stress studies, and most of us are worried  – deeply worried — on behalf of the current generation of veterans with invisible wounds.

We thought that by now there would be access to care whenever needed. We thought that by now there would be clear understanding that PTSD is a wound, not a weakness. We thought that a veteran who served honorably and received a compensable medical diagnosis for PTSD due to his or her service on the field of battle, would receive a medal for sacrifice.

But instead of honor, there is stigma. And this stigma must stop.


HOMEBOY INDUSTRIES MAKES FRONT COVER OF SOLAR ENERGY MAGAZINE

Chris Warren, editor of a photovoltaic magazine called Photon, chanced upon two seemingly out of place Homeboys at a solar panel convention in Huston, TX. Warren approached them and learned of Homeboy Industries and the Homeboys’ preparatory training for careers in the solar power industry.

Photon’s Chris Warren’s editorial introduction to the article, alone, is a very worthwhile read. Here’s a clip of the actual article (which made the cover story, but is not available online without a subscription):

In a weak economy, many struggle to get jobs. But the task is much more daunting for those who have been in prison or involved with gang activity. Since 2008, Los Angeles, California-based Homeboy Industries has provided in-depth training for former inmates and gang members to become PV installers. Despite successes, placing graduates in jobs remains difficult.


PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR JENNIFER EGAN POSTS NEW STORY ON…TWITTER?

The New Yorker is testing out Twitter literature with Jennifer Egan, author of 2010′s big prize-winning novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad‘s new story Black Box. The New Yorker fiction feed (@NYerFiction) will tweet 10 daily installments (the first was May 24th), each beginning at 5:00p.m. PST and lasting an hour.

The L.A. Time’s book blog has more details. Here’s a clip:

Each evening’s Twitter postings constitute one installment, and that installment will appear on the New Yorker’s revamped book blog, Page-Turner, after the installment has finished. Read it there or complete, in the magazine, when it hits newsstands May 28 — look for the science fiction issue, dated June 4 and June 11.

That’s the logistics: In real time (or real-ish time) on Twitter over 10 nights, or serialized on a blog, or all at once in print. It’s an interesting experiment, one which seems designed to cover all the bases — if you don’t have the patience for the online serialization, just read the printed version.


ARMY PHOTO / SPC. RYAN HALLOCK

Posted in Books, Gangs, Homeboy Industries, medical care, PTSD, Uncategorized, War | 1 Comment »

Social Justice Shorts

March 29th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Prison-Health-Care-2

SHOULD THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA TAKE OVER PRISON HEALTH CARE?

No, I’m not kidding. The AP has the story.

The University of California will form a special committee to study whether it should take over inmate health care for the state’s troubled prison system, the chairman of the university system’s Board of Regents said this week.

Regents Chairman Russell Gould announced the committee, which university officials said will study issues including the cost, effect on labor relations, and the university’s liability in inmate lawsuits. Health care has been so bad in the state’s 33 adult prisons that a federal judge appointed a receiver in 2006 to make improvements.

A study by a company affiliated with the University of Texas has criticized the receiver for running up costs as part of the improvement effort. It projected California could save more than $4 billion over five years and $12 billion over 10 years by shifting control to the University of California…..

Scott Henson, of the always stellar Texas criminal justice blog, Grits for Breakfast, has some thoughts on the matter.


A COUNTERFACTUAL HISTORY OF THE US POLICY OF “ENHANCED INTERROGATION”

In the current New Yorker Magazine, Jane Mayer, author of the award-winning The Dark Side, reviews Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, by former Bush speechwriter Marc A. Thiessen—and yanks the wings and legs off Thiessen’s “facts” one by one. To do so, Mayer uses solid, verifiable, reality-based information that she has acquired the old fashioned way—through real reporting.

The last ‘graph of Mayer’s review is clearly what she means to be the takeaway:

Thiessen’s effort to rewrite the history of the C.I.A.’s interrogation program comes not long after a Presidential race in which both the Republican and the Democratic nominees agreed that state-sponsored cruelty had damaged and dishonored America. The publication of “Courting Disaster” suggests that Obama’s avowed determination “to look forward, not back” has laid the recent past open to partisan reinterpretation. By holding no one accountable for past abuse, and by convening no commission on what did and didn’t protect the country, President Obama has left the telling of this dark chapter in American history to those who most want to whitewash it.

Read the whole thing.


MEANWHILE, THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS DIVIDED ABOUT HOW TO HANDLE DETAINEES

Charlie Savage reports in the NY Times on Monday about the dueling secret memos dealing with how the US is—and isn’t—legally empowered to handle detainees who are deemed to be terrorism-related.

Here are the relevant 2 ‘graphs:


….behind closed doors, the debate flared again that summer,
when the Obama administration confronted the case of Belkacem Bensayah, an Algerian man who had been arrested in Bosnia — far from the active combat zone — and was being held without trial by the United States at Guantánamo. Mr. Bensayah was accused of facilitating the travel of people who wanted to go to Afghanistan to join Al Qaeda. A judge found that such “direct support” was enough to hold him as a wartime prisoner, and the Justice Department asked an appeals court to uphold that ruling.

The arguments over the case forced onto the table discussion of lingering discontent at the State Department over one aspect of the Obama position on detention. There was broad agreement that the law of armed conflict allowed the United States to detain as wartime prisoners anyone who was actually a part of Al Qaeda, as well as nonmembers who took positions alongside the enemy force and helped it. But some criticized the notion that the United States could also consider mere supporters, arrested far away, to be just as detainable without trial as enemy fighters.


THE CHURCH CHILD ABUSE SCANDAL AND SHOOTING THE MESSENGER

More than just a few Catholic church higher-ups have suggested in the last few days that the criticism leveled at the church and at Pope Benedict XVI for actions not taken to protect kids from pedophile priests—here and in Europe—amounts to Catholic bashing, or things even more conspiratorial

LA Times editorial board member Michael McGough blogs about the issue here.

He concludes (and I agree):

The pope may have plausible deniability in the cases reported by the New York Times. But the best defense for the Vatican and its supporters is to contest the accuracy of these and other reports, not to accuse journalists (or activists) of selective criticism, let alone an ignoble conspiracy. Playing the anti-Catholic card just won’t work. The sex-abuse scandal in the United States should have demonstrated that.

Posted in medical care, Obama, prison policy, Social Justice Shorts, torture | 5 Comments »

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true…”

March 20th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


As most of you likely know by now, on Saturday afternoon, on the eve of the health care reform vote,
Obama spoke to the Democratic caucus who listened with uncharacteristically silent attention. There was no pep rally atmosphere.

Obama centered the speech around a Lincoln quote: “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.”

It was a very smart, very emotional, very carefully crafted speech—and worth listening to in its entirety.

Posted in health care, medical care, National issues, National politics | 55 Comments »

USC’S Neon Tommy Reporters Tackle the Swine Flu

November 5th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

death-cert_f

One of the models being talked about for its importance to journalism’s future
is the collaboration between journalism schools and public news organizations, particularly non -profits.

Today, Thursday, Neon Tommy, one of the student run online publications coming out of the Annenberg School of Journalism demonstrated a case in point with their exploration and analysis of swine flu deaths in LA County, yet did it without the aid of an outside news agency.

Around 30 students worked on the package
, which consists of an overview of the deaths, what they suggest in the way of patterns and a sharp look at LA County’s shifting policy of secrecy about its records, portraits of seven of those who have died, plus a legal analysis of what LA County and other counties in the state have an obligation to tell us about who exactly is dying from the swine flu. (There is also a map of where the deaths occurred in the county.)

Just to give credit where credit is very much due, the students who worked on the swine flu package are the following.

Reporting staff: Hillel Aron, Briana Galper, Catherine Cloutier, Sharis Delgadillo, Bethany Firnhaber, Jessica Flores, Michael Green, John Guenther, Stephanie Guzman, Neila Jamee, Julia James, Olga Khazan, LeTania Kirkland, Len Ly, Meghan McCarty, Jaclyn Matthews, Jonathan Polakoff, Natalie Ragus, Walter Redmond, Rob Schwandt, Madeleine Scinto, Callie Schweitzer, Amy Silverstein, Susannah Snider, Amanda Tran, Christine Trang, Jessika Walsten and Kelly Williams.

Editors: Mark Evitt and Richie Duchon

Map design: Kim Nowacki

By the way, just so you know, to my knowledge, this project was not part of a class assignment for anyone. (I know it wasn’t for those of my students who worked on it.) The Annenberg reporters simply did the work in their spare time because they wanted to learn and believed the reporting was important.

Posted in medical care, Public Health | 6 Comments »

Obama’s Health Care Moment: Speaking Personally – UPDATED

September 9th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon



There are now more than thirty million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

Barack Obama, September 9, 2009


I will return to local issues tomorrow, but the undeniable story of moment-is President Obama’s Wednesday night address to the joint session of Congress.

There are plenty of other people who are commenting well—and poorly—on Obama’s speech (which, for the record, I thought was a game changer), so instead, I want to say something personal here.


Like many Americans, I pay a fortune for health insurance.

It doesn’t matter that I have never (knock on wood) been ill, other than occasional colds and rare bouts of the flu—for which I never, I mean never-— go to the doctor.

My only trip to the hospital in my adult life was to have my wonderful son, Will, nearly 24 years ago.

I pretty much show up in medical offices solely for my single yearly check-up and about once every ten years when I get a nasty case of poison oak (and that only when the dog strays into the stuff without my knowing it).

Furthermore, my weight is on the low side of normal, I exercise regularly, have great cholesterol, perfect blood pressure and no chronic conditions.

Yet, although I have good health, and a gazillion dollar deductible, I pay through the nose every month. Why? Because I’m self employed—which means that my insurance is two or three times the cost of what one pays through an employer. And I am middle-aged. Late middle aged, if I am to be honest.

But that isn’t the most vexing part. Not only is my health insurance—which happens to be Blue Shield—absurdly expensive, it pays for almost zero, unless something truly hideous happens to me. Then, once my deductible is used up, it is supposed to pay most of the bills.

(Operative phrase “supposed to.” We have all heard the horror stories. Many of us know somebody or several somebodies who have lived through the horror stories.)

Moreover, even things that Blue Shield, used to pay for, like yearly mammograms, they have found new ways to get out of. And certainly my insurance doesn’t cover common sense preventative care. For instance, although as a small-boned, slender woman I am the potential poster girl for osteoporosis, my insurance company wouldn’t dream of paying for a baseline bone density scan—although, as a preventative measure, it is likely to save long term costs, not to mention heartache. (I just had one and was thankfully informed I have the spine of a 25-year old. For now, anyway.)

Except for part of one yearly check-up I pay for all doctor visits, plus any of my preventative tests, the diagnostic sonograms that my mammographer rightly advises, my eye exams to make sure that nothing creepy like glaucoma is lurking, whatever—all entirely out of pocket. As I said, my insurance will pay for (most) of one yearly doctor visit. But, if every other year I think it wise to be checked by both an internist and a gynecologist—fuggedaboudit. And any kind of specialist? You must be joking.

If, heaven forbid, I ever do get actually, even marginally sick, or find some suspicious spot on my arm that needs to be removed and biopsied, or maybe get some test for some recently acquired allergy, I fear that my insurance will really go sky high. Or if something worse than that happens, they’ll try to drop me.

So quite frankly I notice that put off having some of the exams, or tests, or check-ups that I know I should have—because there is that niggling, back-of-the-mind worry about my insurance doubling or worse, like my close friend’s did, just because she got a prescription for an inhaler for those occasional moments when she’s at someone’s house and has a mild allergic reaction to cat dander.

Yet, I know I’m churlish to complain at all. I am, after all, one of the incredibly lucky ones. I have health insurance. And I make a respectable amount of money doing work I love— teaching, book writing, and nattering journalistically about issues of social justice— so I can afford my ever-rising premiums and the mortgage on my canyon house, and life’s other necessities.

Millions of other Americans work long hours at one or more jobs, but don’t make enough to afford to pay insurance premiums. This means if they can scrape together the money to take their kids, or themselves, to the doctor, they go. When they can’t, they put it off. Sometimes with disastrous consequences.

Still other Americans—some of them my close friends and family members,—have fought cancer or some other serious illness. Now they are uninsurable on the open market because they once had the bad sense to get sick. If they don’t have jobs that force insurers into carrying them, or spouses with similar jobs—or if they lose their jobs, God forbid—they are screwed.

So, yes, I want health care reform that would make it illegal to deny coverage for preexisting conditions. And I also want the public option.

I’d like to buy into some kind of insurance that doesn’t charge usurious rates, or jump in price by 30 percent or more per year, and doesn’t have a zillion dollar deductible. I would like that insurance to pay—with a non-stratospheric co-pay—for my ordinary doctor visits, and for whatever sensible preventative treatments or tests my test-conservative doctor thinks necessary.

I also want to be able to go to a physician without always having to weigh the larger, long-term fiscal consequences, when going would be the wise and healthful thing to do.

I want that for me, for my son, my nephew, and many of their friends, and for a pile of my own best friends, all of whom also work their butts off, pay their taxes, and either run small business or are also self-employed. And I want it too for the 30 million fellow Americans who cannot get coverage at all, and the many million more who are under insured.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. I really don’t.


UPDATE: Two USC/Annenberg grad students—Len Ly and Hillel Aron— watched Obama’s health care address along with patients waiting for care at two different LA emergency rooms. Clever idea.

Here’s what they reported.



*Note: I managed to insert some strange moment in coding that erased nearly a fully paragraph from an earlier version of this post, making that section of it confusing to read. Obviously it’s corrected now.

Posted in health care, medical care, Obama | 72 Comments »

Fourth World Medical Relief Comes to LA…& More

August 12th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

remote-medical-clinic

SOME QUICK NOTES ON TWO LA STORIES:

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1. DESPERATE FOR CARE

Remote Area Medical Care is a nonprofit that used to airlift medical relief
to isolated regions of the Amazon. A couple of years ago, RAM began doing 60 percent of its work in rural America because, said the organization’s founder, the need in rural US is just so great.

Starting Tuesday, in case you aren’t already aware, Rural Medical Care went a step further and decided to do some desperately needed urban clinics. Los Angeles is one of their first and they are providing a free medical and dental clinic at the LA Forum for a week.

KPCC’s Patricia Nazarrio was there on Tuesday as thousands of LA residents
, who otherwise couldn’t afford care, lined up., many for most of the night. But still there were too many to be treated.

The Daily Breeze also has a good story on the clinic, reporting that people came from both San Diego and Santa Barbara counties

[ RAM founder, Sam Brock] said although health care reform has become a hot-button issue, RAM quietly continues its work of helping people.

“An infected tooth can’t wait while Congress debates health care reform,” Brock said. “We’re taking care of people who need help now.”

Yet, while an expected 10,000 of our fellow Californians sorely in need of medical and/or dental care will stand in lines hour after hour in the hope of getting just a bit of that needed care, the national television news channels have devoted an obscene amount of time talking about the complete and unconscionable falsehood about “death panels”—as if it was an actual topic for discussion instead of dismissing it for what it is: the most deliberate and cynical kind of lie.

The disconnect is getting a bit hard to take.

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2. DRUGS & MURDER ON SKID ROW;

One more article that is worth your time is by Ari Bloomekatz for the LA Times about how the LAMP Community, one of Skid Row’s most respected housing providers for the area’s homeless, seemed to have failed to see when drugs were being dealt regularly out of Lamp Lodge, a facility for the mentally ill homeless run by LAMP. The dealing, Ari reports, ultimately led to a double homicide inside the Lodge when fighting over drug selling turf suddenly escalated.

Bloomekatz is very even-handed in his presentation of the issue, going for complexity rather than a sensational, black and white story.

He writes: “The case underscores the difficulty of keeping even “safe zones” free of narcotics activities in such a drug-plagued area, despite efforts by the LAPD in recent years to crack down on skid row crime.”

“One of the questions that we do have to ask is how a narcotics dealer and a hit man ended up meeting inside of a room inside the Lamp Lodge that was actually supposed to be a secure facility for mentally ill people,” said Capt. Blake Chow.

Yep. Despite LAMPs excellent work on Skid Row, we definitely need to be asking those questions.

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Okay, now back to Alan.

PS: I learned yesterday that Alex Sanchez bail hearing has been put off until October.

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Photo by Robert Casillas for the Daily Breeze

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