Grant to study mental health services for seniors

[ Posted on July 28th, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]

janet_frank_150Center Faculty Associate Janet C. Frank was awarded a $400,000 grant by the state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) to assess progress made statewide in setting up a system of care for older adults with serious mental illness since the passage of California’s Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) in 2004. Frank will also identify methods to improve progress in this area.

“Research has shown that the proportion of older adults suffering with mental illness is higher than that of the general population, but that many who could benefit are not receiving treatment,” said Frank.

Read the press release.

Environmental factors play role in obesity, researchers say

[ Posted on July 17th, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]

Joelle Wolstein, left, and Susan Babey during the seminar’s Q&A period.

Along with unhealthy food choices and a lack of access to affordable fresh produce, living in an unsafe neighborhood with a poor social structure  plays a role in obesity as residents are less likely to be physically active, UCLA researchers said July 15 in a Center Health Policy Seminar Series lecture.

Research Scientist Joelle Wolstein and Senior Research Scientist Susan Babey discussed their Center study, Obesity in California, which found one in four California adults obese in 2011-2012 and one in three adolescents overweight or obese. The authors presented national and state obesity rates and data on groups most affected by the disease: Latinos, African-Americans, American Indian and Pacific Islanders have obesity rates between 33 and 37 percent and nearly 31 percent of low-income (0-199 percent of FPL) residents were obese, according to the study.

During the Q&A session, researchers discussed the perception of neighborhood safety and its effect on physical activity, such as walking. Babey said in some cases research found “an area has very little (reported) crime but people don’t feel safe” and that the converse was also true. Also discussed: use of community and school gardens as a way of providing more access to fresh fruits and vegetables. While Babey said there are roadblocks to using school-grown produce in the cafeteria, Wolstein said school gardens can help children learn to appreciate the flavor and “get excited” about growing and eating fresh produce, “which might not be as appealing as a hamburger to them right now.”

The study, which used California Health Interview Survey data from 2001 to 2011-12, was used as a launching point for various media: L.A. Weekly used it to take a jab at the state’s healthy reputation, while Spanish-language radio program Hecho En California interviewed Wolstein about obesity among Latinos in its 10:15 a.m. broadcast July 6.

Watch the seminar here.

Radio discussion: What’s next for millenials and the ACA?

[ Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]

Center for Health Policy Research - 101202Young Americans are enrolling for health coverage under the ACA, but at a lower rate than estimated, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Center Director Gerald Kominski said one barrier is the “young invincibles” are usually first-time health insurance buyers who are unfamiliar with navigating plans, provider networks, deductibles. “The marketplace should not be this complicated.”

Host Kerri Miller said Gallup poll results show 30 percent of 19- to 25-year-olds were uninsured before the ACA, and that figure dropped by 6 percentage points after implementation of the law. Guest Benjamin Sommers of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said some young invincibles may have “tuned out” about enrolling because of the dueling political rhetoric surrounding the law, but the ACA now provides them a health safety net and access to negotiated price rates.

Listen to the story.

Rough road for state’s new managed-care health program

[ Posted on June 30th, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]


A new managed-care health program in California for vulnerable populations has lower-than expected enrollment, after facing pushback from consumer advocates, lack of agreement between federal and state governments and health plans, lack of readiness by participating counties, and other delays, according to Center Research Scientist Kathryn Kietzman in USC’s Reporting on Health.

The program, Cal MediConnect, is a pilot managed-care program for vulnerable consumers who receive both Medicare and Medi-Cal benefits, such as low-income seniors with chronic conditions and young people with severe disabilities. Launched in 2014, the program is meant to coordinate and better deliver medical, mental and long-term health services. Nationwide, 1.5 million people qualify for the federal demonstration programs, including nearly half a million in California.

As of June 1, about 123,000 of eligible Californians have enrolled in Cal MediConnect, far below expectation, said Kietzman. In six of seven counties with active enrollment, one-third have enrolled, nearly one-quarter cancelled their enrollment within the first month or two, and 44 percent opted out of the program and stayed with their current Medicare providers.

Read the entire story.

Research by Williams Institute’s Gary Gates cited in same-sex court decision

[ Posted on June 27th, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]

gary_gatesThe U.S. Supreme Court on Friday cited research by Gary Gates, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and research director at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, in its decision legalizing same-sex marriage, according to a story on UCLA Newsroom. Today’s court decision legalizes same-sex marriage in all states.

In March, Gates filed an amicus brief in the landmark case, with evidence that same-sex couples are common through the country; are raising children and are more likely to be raising adopted and foster children; want to marry; and would be less economically vulnerable if they were able to marry. Williams Institute scholars have filed amicus briefs and served as expert witnesses for many same-sex marriage cases, including all cases before the Supreme Court, the story reports.

Gates gave a seminar at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research June 17 on how he used California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) LGB data in his work. He predicted the outcome of the court case at the end of the seminar Q&A session.

“My mother says actions always speak louder than words” and the Supreme Court had many chances to stop states passing gay marriage laws, but didn’t, Gates said.

“My money would be on at a minimum that there will be a national right for same-sex couples to marry.”

Read the UCLA newsroom story. See the Center seminar video here.

CDC survey: More in U.S. have health insurance

[ Posted on June 24th, 2015 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]

NHIS_logo150The percentage of U.S. residents who lacked health insurance dropped from 14.4 percent of the population in 2013 to 11.5 percent of the population in 2014, a decline of 8.8 million people, according to a National Health Interview Survey report released Tuesday.

Estimates showed California adults ages 18 to 64 had a 16.7 percent uninsurance rate, compared to national rate of 16.3 percent.

States with the highest and lowest rates of uninsurance for all residents under 65 at time of interview in 2014 (the national rate for this group is 13.3%):


  • Alaska 19.4%
  • Texas 19.4%
  • Oklahoma 18.1%
  • Nevada 15.0%
  • Florida 15.3%
  • Mississippi 14.9%
  • North Carolina 14.8%
  • Arizona 14.6%


  • Hawaii 2.0%
  • Massachusetts 2.6%
  • District of Columbia 3.0%
  • Delaware 4.4%
  • Iowa 5.6%
  • Minnesota 5.7%
  • North Dakota 6.0%
  • Wisconsin 6.3%
  • Rhode Island 6.4%

Read the report.

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