Retail clinics — small walk-in facilities typically based in drugstores and supermarkets, staffed by nurse practitioners, and offering a menu of limited and routine-care health services — are on the rise across the country. There were only 62 retail clinics open nationwide at the start of 2006. There are predicted to be over 1500 open by the end of 2008.
According to a report from the California HealthCare Foundation, retail clinics help fill a health care gap for the uninsured and the underinsured that it otherwise falls almost exclusively to emergency rooms to cover. The report notes that retail clinics offer low-cost services to people without health insuarnce and provide substantial savings. For instance, diagnosis of strep throat or a urinary tract infection at a retail clinic could represent a savings of $240 or more over an emergency room visit. One big obstacle in the way of retail clinic success is finding money to stay open long enough to turn a profit. Wellness Express, a Sacramento-based firm which got a substantial amount of news media attention when it started opening clinics in 2005 and 2006, had to shut down in November 2006 because of a lack of funds.
According to the report, most retail care clinics are currently in the Midwest, East Coast, and South, with only about 20 retail clinics open statewide in California at present. But that number is expected to rise.
Some of the worst-congested roadways in the United States are in Calfornia, according to a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has to commute in the Bay Area or Southern California. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for example, the ratio of travel time in peak hours to free-flow traffic time is 1.92, which means that it takes an average of almost twice as long to drive somewhere in high-traffic situations as in traffic-free conditions.
What causes the congestion? The report points to several factors. For one thing, 70% of the gross domestic product and 69% of the jobs in the US are in the 100 largest metropolitan regions. That amounts to a lot of people and freight moving through consticted areas at the same time. Another factor: the supply of public transit and roadways, even though it has increased over the past 20 years, has not kept pace with the growth in population.
According to a recent study from the Violence Policy Center in Washington DC, California has had the steepest decline nationally in the number of federally licensed gun dealers — the number of Americans authorized to sell guns with a Type 1 FFL license — in the period extending from 1994 to 2007. California’s total number of gun dealers fell during that period by 89%, from 20,148 to 2120.
A recent Field Poll shows that 69% of the state’s registered voters are dissastisfied with the current state of the health care system in California, but 58% believe that it is either “not too likely” or “not at all likely” that the governor and the legislature will be able to enact any health care reforms this year.
In addition, 36% of registered voters now favor the idea of a governwent-run health care system that covers everyone, up from a total of 24% who favored the same approach when the question was last asked in December 2006.
White males in California can expect on average to live to 75.5 years of age. Black males can expect to live to 68.6 years of age. A new Public Poilcy Institute of California report says that this disparity is attributable to differentials in socioecomic status and educational attainment, along with higher mortality rates among African-Americans driven by medical factors such as heart disase, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease, and by other factors, such as homicide. (Homicide is the sixth leading cause of death among African-American males over the age of 25; among white males over the age of 25, it ranks 20th.)
PPIC’s policy recommendations include putting effort into increasing awareness of simple ways to reduce health risks associated with the leading causes of death, including heart disease and lung disease, as well as “broader institutional efforts to promote equal treatment for the same health condition … [to narrow] racial gaps in mortality.”
A report released by the California Budget Project in time for Labor Day shows that California’s workers face a set of significant challenges. While median incomes have increased and poverty has declined, unemployment has gone up to 5.3%, the highest level in nearly two years, and the state has shown only modest employment growth in the past five years. The recent spate of housing-related job losses and the mortgage credit crisis are expected to add to unemployment numbers in the coming year. In addition, wages are declining in purchasing power (by about 2.2% per year), and the adjusted gross income of the middle fifth of taxpayers fell by 0.4% between 2004 and 2005.