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1

Autism Rates Spike Again

By Michelle Diament ~ disabilityscoop.com

The federal government is revising its official autism prevalence estimate upward to reflect a 30 percent increase over numbers reported just two years ago.

New data indicate that 1 in 68 children have autism, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. That works out to roughly 1.2 million Americans under age 21. Previously, the agency said that the rate stood at 1 in 88, a figure released in 2012.

The latest estimate comes from data collected on 8-year-olds in 2010 in 11 communities across the country. Findings published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicate that autism rates ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 in New Jersey.

Nearly half of those with autism have average or above average IQs, the CDC said. That marks a significant change from just a decade ago when only a third of kids on the spectrum fell within that range.

It’s unclear what exactly is driving the change, said Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the CDC. It could be that doctors are getting better at diagnosing autism in those with typical IQ scores or that there are more kids with autism or a combination of both factors, she said.

Boys continue to be diagnosed at a rate that’s nearly five times that of girls with 1 in 42 males considered to be on the spectrum, the CDC said. Autism is also flagged more often in white children than in those who are black or Hispanic.

Most children with autism are not diagnosed until after age 4 even though experts say the condition can be spotted as early as age 2. The timing is significant since research shows that intervention is most successful when started early.

“The most important thing for parents to do is to act early when there is a concern about a child’s development,” said Marshalyn Yeargin-Allsopp, chief of the CDC’s Developmental Disabilities Branch. “If you have a concern about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts or moves, take action. Don’t wait.”

The increased autism prevalence rate does not come as a complete surprise. Findings from a separate CDC survey released last year suggested that the condition could affect 1 in 50 kids. However, that data was based on a telephone survey of parents. The current study relies on records from providers of education and health services to children with developmental disabilities and is considered more accurate.

Autism rates have grown rapidly in recent years. This is the fourth time that the CDC has revised its official prevalence estimate since 2002 when autism was believed to affect 1 in 150 American children.

Paul Wang, a pediatrician who is head of medical research at Autism Speaks, said he expects the numbers to continue to rise as awareness grows and resources become more available across the country.

“The numbers are real,” Wang said. “These are real people who need everything from behavioral and medical services to employment and housing supports.”

0

Covered California First open Enrollement Exceeds Projections

Covered California, Department of Health Care Services and Other Partners Help More Than 3 Million Californians Get Coverage
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With a final surge over the past two weeks, more than 3 million California consumers enrolled in health insurance plans or in Medi-Cal by April 15, Covered California™ and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced today.
“Bringing health insurance and health care to so many Californians is a big  achievement that was accomplished in no small measure by the work of our employees, our partners at DHCS, insurance agents, Certified Enrollment Counselors, county partners and community organizations who spread the word about this historic initiative,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “We are proud of what California has achieved, but recognize this is only the beginning of a long road of expanding affordable coverage to all Californians.”
From April 1-15, 205,685 consumers – including a one-day record of more than 50,000 on the final day – completed their applications and selected health plans through the Covered California exchange, bringing the total to 1,395,929 at the end of the historic, first open enrollment period. The total exceeds the base projection for Covered California for the entire six-month enrollment period by more than 815,929.
Of those enrolled in Covered California plans, 1,222,320, or 88 percent, are eligible for financial subsidies to help cover the cost of their health insurance premiums.
Medi-Cal enrolled approximately 1.9 million people through the end of March, including 1.1 million through the Covered California portal and county offices, approximately 650,000 former Low Income Health Program (LIHP) members who were transitioned to Medi-Cal by DHCS, and 180,000 individuals who applied through the state’s Express Lane program.
“When we began this journey last October, our goal was to help Californians get quality, affordable health care coverage,” said DHCS Director Toby Douglas.  “With the help of our county partners, Covered California and thousands of concerned citizens and organizations who contributed, we’ve made incredible progress toward our goal in just six short months. We’re excited about the opportunities ahead for even more individuals who now have the opportunity to get coverage through Medi-Cal and Covered California.”
Enrollment among Latinos and among Californians 18 to 34 years old had a strong finish. Additionally, Covered California more than doubled its base projection for Asian enrollment and has met the base projection for African-American enrollment. Lee said insurance companies are reporting that 85 percent of all enrollees have paid their first month’s premium.
Latino enrollment now stands at 305,106 or 28 percent of the total enrollment. From the end of March to April 13, Latino enrollment increased at a rate of 30 percent, and has cleared the base projection of 265,000.
Enrollment of young adults 18 to 34 years old finished at 29 percent of the consumers who have selected a Covered California health insurance plan. This age group represents about 25 percent of the state’s population but approximately 36 percent of those who are eligible for subsidies. Also, about 36 percent of those newly enrolled in Medi-Cal are young adults 18 to 34 years old.
Lee praised his staff and partners for helping consumers “cross the finish line” after Covered California’s decision to allow consumers who had difficulty accessing the enrollment portal on March 31 to complete their applications by April 15.
During the six-month period, 41 percent of all consumers self-enrolled for coverage through the Covered California website. Certified Insurance Agents enrolled 39 percent of all consumers, while Covered California Certified Enrollment Counselors and Service Center Representatives each enrolled about 9 percent.

Of the subsidy-eligible consumers who enrolled in the exchange through April 15, 809,085, or about 58 percent of the total, signed up for a Silver plan, the second-least expensive plan of the four metal tiers. About 88 percent of consumers across all tiers received some sort of financial assistance.

Enrollment in Covered California private health insurance plans hit 1,221,727 through March 31. March was the highest single month of enrollment, with more than 416,000 people signing up for a health insurance plan.
In Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), 1,156 small businesses — representing about 4,900 employees and their dependents — have enrolled for coverage through March 31. Enrollment in SHOP is available year round.
Although the open-enrollment deadline has passed for Covered California health insurance plans, enrollment in Medi-Cal continues year-round. Individuals who would like their eligibility determined for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal can apply at www.CoveredCA.com.
Monthly Enrollment Statistics
Oct. 1 – March 31*
Applications
Individuals
Total number of electronic applications initiated including Medi-Cal
3,518,366
6,333,058**
Completed applications through Covered California including Medi-Cal
2,661,407
5,098,460
Individuals determined to be eligible
for enrollment in Covered California
2,656,799
Enrollments in a Covered California
health plan
1,395,929
Subsidized enrollments (those eligible for federal premium assistance, cost-sharing reduction) in a Covered California health plan
1,222,320
Non-subsidized enrollments in a Covered California health plan
173,609
**Estimated, based on an average of 1.8 individuals per application.
Total Enrollment Oct. 1 – March 31*
Subsidy-Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
1,222,320
173,609
1,395,929
Age of Individuals Enrolled: Oct. 1 to March 31*
Age
Subsidy Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
Less Than 18
49,867
4.08%
28,096
16.18%
77,963
5.59%
18 to 25
145,968
11.94%
15,794
9.10%
161,762
11.59%
26 to 34
204,601
16.74%
36,465
21.00%
241,066
17.27%
35 to 44
205,999
16.85%
32,802
18.89%
238,801
17.11%
45 to 54
306,859
25.10%
31,580
18.19%
338,439
24.24%
55 to 64
308,163
25.21%
28,362
16.34%
336,525
24.11%
65 and Older
863
0.07%
510
0.29%
1,373
0.10%
Grand Total
1,222,320
173,609
1,395,929
Race of Individuals Enrolled***: Oct. 1 to March 31*
Race
Subsidy Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
Base Projection for 3/31/2014
White
317,311
33.50%
69,190
48.27%
386,501
35.44%
194,000
Latino
280,025
29.56%
25,081
17.50%
305,106
27.98%
265,000
Asian
208,357
22.00%
21,995
15.35%
230,352
21.12%
83,000
Black or
African-American
26,038
2.75%
4,736
3.30%
30,774
2.82%
22,000
Mixed Race
50,101
5.29%
12,175
8.49%
62,276
5.71%
16,000
American Indian
and Alaska Native
2,496
0.26%
144
0.10%
2,640
0.24%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
2,237
0.24%
339
0.24%
2,576
0.24%
Other
26,305
2.78%
3,980
2.78%
30,285
2.78%
Unknown Race, Non-Latino
34,412
3.63%
5,686
3.97%
40,098
3.68%
Grand Total
947,282
143,326
1,090,608
***Excludes 305,321 non-respondents.

Language of Individuals Enrolled****: Oct. 1 to March 31*
Language
Subsidy Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
English
882,424
78.92%
152,740
95.44%
1,035,164
80.99%
Spanish
146,452
13.10%
4,251
2.66%
150,703
11.79%
Asian and Pacific Islander Languages
86,358
7.72%
2,873
1.80%
89,231
6.98%
Indo-European Languages
2,913
0.26%
176
0.11%
3,089
0.24%
Grand Total
1,118,147
160,040
1,278,187
**** Excludes 117,742 non-respondents.
Metal Level of Individuals Enrolled: Oct. 1 to March 31*
Metal Level
Subsidy Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
Minimum Coverage
6,534
0.53%
13,160
7.58%
19,694
1.41%
Bronze
297,448
24.33%
61,880
35.64%
359,328
25.74%
Silver
809,085
66.19%
51,722
29.79%
860,807
61.67%
Gold
61,507
5.03%
21,851
12.59%
83,358
5.97%
Platinum
47,746
3.91%
24,996
14.40%
72,742
5.21%
Grand Total
1,222,320
173,609
1,395,929
Carrier Selected of Individuals Enrolled: Oct. 1 to March 31*
Carrier
Subsidy Eligible
Unsubsidized
Total
Anthem Blue Cross
of California
369,077
30.19%
55,981
32.25%
425,058
30.45%
Blue Shield of California
332,681
27.22%
48,776
28.10%
381,457
27.33%
Chinese Community
Health Plan
13,381
1.09%
925
0.53%
14,306
1.02%
Contra Costa Health Plan
976
0.08%
115
0.07%
1,091
0.08%
Health Net
237,701
19.45%
26,378
15.19%
264,079
18.92%
Kaiser Permanente
210,179
17.20%
30,919
17.81%
241,098
17.27%
L.A. Care Health Plan
32,396
2.65%
5,728
3.30%
38,124
2.73%
Molina Healthcare
10,625
0.87%
1,106
0.64%
11,731
0.84%
Sharp Health Plan
10,455
0.86%
2,632
1.52%
13,087
0.94%
Valley Health Plan
1,647
0.13%
244
0.14%
1,891
0.14%
Western Health Advantage
3,202
0.26%
805
0.46%
4,007
0.29%
Grand Total
1,222,320
173,609
1,395,929
*Data includes individuals who finished their applications and selected plans through April 15, 2014.
 About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California, in partnership with the California Department of Health Care Services, was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California helps individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that is available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses can purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.
Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.
About the Department of Health Care Services

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) works to preserve and improve the physical and mental health of all Californians. DHCS provides health care services for approximately 9.4 million Californians through Medi-Cal, including medical, dental, mental health, substance use treatment services and long-term services and supports. This is accomplished through an investment of approximately $70 billion annually in public funds for the care of low-income families, children, pregnant women, seniors and persons with disabilities. DHCS focuses on delivering quality, effective services primarily through coordinated systems of care provided by 21 Medi-Cal managed care plans located in all of California’s 58 counties. For more information about DHCS, please visit www.dhcs.ca.gov.

Posted by CoveredCA

2

California Homeless Problems

Last November the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report which found that southern California remains home to the largest homeless population in the country.

Long Beach, a city of approximately 460,000 south of Los Angeles, has the fourth highest rate of people living without shelter of any major American city. Long Beach listed 1,112 chronically homeless, along with 14,840 chronically homeless in Los Angeles city and county, the highest number in the HUD report. Long Beach also has the 10th largest population of homeless veterans of any major city, 527, compared to Los Angeles city and county’s 6,291. Statewide, the number of homeless people living in shelters and living on the streets increased by 3,895 people since 2010, according to local homeless housing and service providers.

The report also found that California has 22 percent of America’s homeless population, and that 66.7 percent of the homeless lack shelter, the highest percentage in the nation. In addition, 36 percent of America’s chronically homeless reside in California, and of these people 86.6 percent were unsheltered. Long Beach also has the ninth largest population of chronically homeless in the US as well as the fourth largest unsheltered homeless population. About 22.8 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the Long Beach Community Action Partnership, and one in three children under the age of five live below the abysmally low federal poverty line.

The report’s definition of a chronically homeless person is someone who has gone without shelter continually for at least a year or at least four times in the past year and has a debilitating condition, such as substance abuse disorder or mental illness. It must be noted that the HUD report does not count the number of people who are being helped through programs that involve rapid re-housing, permanent housing, or those being cared for in an institution.

Immense resources are available to solve these pressing social problems, but they are monopolized by the super-rich. California by itself is home to nearly 100 billionaires.

While the California budget proposal restores none of the past cuts to human services that aid the homeless and the poor, despite a much hailed surplus, federal budget cuts to housing programs threaten to throw more people into poverty and homelessness.

Last week President Obama signed a budget bill into law that will cut $8.7 billion in food stamps for the most vulnerable layers of the population. This is part of a broader attack on social programs that benefit the poor, including the deliberate expiration of extended benefits for 1.3 million long-term unemployed workers in the US. The lack of a job, in particular, is directly linked to homelessness, starvation, and all the social misery that accompanies it.

The cost of living in Long Beach in comparison to California and the rest of the country is exorbitantly high. The median household income in the city in 2011 was $51,214 compared to the state average of $57,287. The estimated per capita income is $25,945. The cost of rent, which determines the quality of life for so many working class and poor residents in Long Beach, is also expensive. The median gross rent in 2011 was $1,064 per month. The median house or condo value in 2011 was $420,700 in Long Beach compared to $355,600 statewide.

2

Teen Violence – Date Rape Education

What Is Date Rape?

When people think of rape, they might picture a stranger jumping out of a shadowy place and attacking someone.

But it’s not only strangers who rape. About half of all people who are raped know the person who attacked them; sometimes it’s the person they’re going out with or interested in. Girls and women are most often raped, but guys also can be raped.

Most friendships and dates never lead to violence. But it can happen. So it’s good to be prepared. Here are two key things to know about rape:

  1. The person who is raped is not to blame. Rape is always the rapist’s fault. People never “ask for it” because of the clothes they wear or the way they act. If sex is forced against someone’s will, it’s rape. That’s true even when two people are dating — even if they’ve had sex before. You never “owe” someone sex, even if you’re dating.
  2. Rape is not about sex or passion. Forced sex is an act of violence and aggression. It has nothing to do with love. Healthy relationships are about respect. Someone who really cares about you will respect your wishes and not force or pressure you to have sex.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drugs can play a role in date rapes. Drinking can loosen inhibitions, dull common sense, and — for some people — allow aggressive tendencies to surface.

Drugs can take away your ability to be in control or get help. You may have heard about “date rape” drugs like “roofies,” GHB, and ketamine. Drugs like these can easily be mixed in drinks to make a person black out and forget things that happen. Girls and guys who have been given these drugs say they felt paralyzed, had blurred vision, and couldn’t remember things.

Mixing these drugs with alcohol is highly dangerous. People can end up dead if they’re given a date rape drug when they’ve been drinking.

Protecting Yourself

The best defense against date rape is to try to prevent it. Here are some things you can do:

  • Avoid secluded places when you’re in the early stages of dating or just getting to know someone. Going someplace where you can’t get help can be risky if you don’t know the person you’re with. That includes your room or the other person’s. Wait until you trust your partner before going anywhere private or out of the way.
  • Don’t spend time alone with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Follow your instincts. If a situation doesn’t feel right, get out.
  • Stay sober and aware. If you’re with someone you don’t know very well, stay aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Be aware of your date’s ability to agree to sex. You may be guilty of rape if the other person has been drinking, doing drugs, or is not in a condition to respond or react.
  • Be clear about what kind of relationship you want with the person. If you are not ready for sex or touching, or you’re not sure, ask the other person to respect your feelings.
  • Don’t let peer pressure push you into something you don’t want to do. “Everybody’s doing it” is a myth. Most teens are not having sex.
  • Go out with a group of friends and watch out for each other. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel threatened.
  • Take self-defense courses. These can build confidence and teach valuable physical techniques a person can use to get away from an attacker.

Getting Help

If you are raped, here are some things that you can do:

Immediately After a Rape

  • If you’re hurt, go straight to the emergency room. Most medical centers and hospital emergency departments have doctors and counselors trained to take care of someone who has been raped.
  • Call, text, or find someone you feel safe with. Tell them what happened.
  • If you want to report the rape, go to the hospital right away. To keep as much of the physical evidence as you can, don’t change clothes, don’t wash, and don’t douche.
  • If you aren’t sure what to do, call a rape crisis center. Search online for local numbers or call the national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-HOPE. Rape crisis calls are anonymous and confidential. The counselor can explain the law in your area and give you advice on what to do.
  • Write down as much as you can remember about what happened.

Up to 72 Hours After a Rape

  • If you want to report the rape, go to the hospital as soon as you can. If possible, don’t change clothes, don’t wash, and don’t douche. But if you’ve already done these things, don’t let that stop you from getting help. Take as much evidence with you as you can — like underwear or other clothing that hasn’t been washed yet. Doctors can gather evidence several days after a rape. The hospital also will check you for STDs and give you treatments to help prevent them.
  • If you aren’t sure what to do, call a rape crisis center. Search online for local numbers or call the national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-HOPE. Rape crisis calls are anonymous and confidential. The counselor can explain the law in your area and give you advice on what to do.

More Than 72 Hours After a Rape

  • If you want to report the rape, call the police or a rape crisis center. A rape crisis center is a good place to start if you were raped a while ago. They can give you advice on the best approach to take (for instance, if you should go to the hospital or contact the police first).
  • If you just want to talk or need counseling, call a rape support line. Search online for local numbers or call the national sexual assault hotline at (800) 656-HOPE. Rape crisis calls are anonymous and confidential. They will put you in touch with someone in your area who can help. Some rape crisis centers offer short-term counseling help.

Reporting a Rape

The sooner a rape is reported, the better. Quick reporting increases the chances that rapists will be caught and prevent them from hurting someone else. But you can still report a rape months or, in some states, even years after it happens. Different states have different rules. To find out more about rape laws in your area, go to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) (RAINN) website.

Rape isn’t just physically damaging — it can be emotionally traumatic as well. It may be hard to think or talk about something as personal as being raped by someone you know. A trained rape crisis counselor or other mental health professional can give you the right care and support to begin the healing process. Working things through can help prevent lingering problems later on.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD, and Allan R. De Jong, MD

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