The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 23, 2011
New national, state statistics on the uninsured

Fresh data from the Centers for Disease Control shows 48.6 million Americans of all ages (16.0 percent of the population) lacking health insurance at the time of the survey in 2010. Also at that point in time 7.8 percent of children under 18 and 33.9 percent of young adults (19-25) were uninsured.

CDC researchers also crunched the 2010 numbers for the 20 largest states. The percentage of uninsured people ranged from 4.0 percent in Massachusetts to 26.1 percent in Arizona. California came in bit above the national average at 18.6 percent.

In 2010 60.2 percent of Americans had health insurance coverage provided by private (non-governmental) sources; 31.4 percent had coverage provided by government -- including Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), state-sponsored or other government-sponsored health plan, Medicare (disability), and military plans. In California the private/public split was 56.1 and 28.8 percent, respectively.

June 16, 2011
Hate crimes decreasing in nation

A new federal report shows the number of hate crimes falling from 239,400 in 2003 to 148,400 in 2009. In addition the rate of violent crime victimizations dropped from 0.8 to 0.5 per 1,000 persons over the same period. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics about 87 percent of hate crime victimizations involve a violent crime, the rest involve property.

In nearly 90 percent of hate crime victimizations, victims judged the offender was motivated by racial or ethnic prejudice or both. Overall, motivation for hates crimes breaks down this way:

Race: 58 percent
Ethnicity: 30 percent
Association (with a particular group): 25 percent
Sexual orientation: 15 percent
Perceived characteristics: 13 percent
Religion: 12 percent
Disability: 10 percent.

In 54 percent of such crimes, the offender was not known to the victim. The offender had a weapon in about 20 percent of cases. And the victim suffered an some type of injury in 23 percent of cases.

June 14, 2011
Ambulance diversions impacting heart attack mortality

The practice of rerouting ambulances away from crowded emergency rooms is tied to higher mortality of heart attack victims. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that frequent diversions are correlated to an increase in avoidable patient deaths.

ambulance.JPGThe number of emergency rooms has dropped in the past 20 years and hospitals now are often forced to temporarily divert ambulances when facilities are crowded with patients waiting for beds.

Researchers studied 14,000 elderly patients in four California counties and found a three percent difference in death rates (15 versus 18) between ERs that did not divert and those that diverted at least 12 hours out of the day.

They also warn that high ambulance rerouting is symptomatic of the bigger problem of providing care to a growing number of patients with finite medical resources.

In 2002 The Bee reported on efforts to reduce the chronic overcrowding that caused routine diversions at Sacramento-area hospitals at that time. See attached articles.

PHOTO CREDIT: A patient arrives by ambulance at Sutter General Hospital. 2002 Sacramento Bee photo by Dick Schmidt

June 8, 2011
Economy of most states grew in 2010

Driven by gains in durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, and finance and insurance, U.S. real GDP grew 2.6 percent in 2010 following a 2.5 drop in 2009.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis also reported yesterday that GDP grew in 48 states and Washington, D.C. North Dakota lead the nation in percent change (7.1). New York (5.1), Indiana (4.6), Massachusetts (4.2) and West Virginia (4.0) trailed behind. California ranked near the bottom with a modest 1.8 percent increase.

The Golden State saw the biggest growth in the durable-goods manufacturing and information sectors (0.76 and 0.53 percent, respectively). Sectors that suffered during this period include non-durable goods manufacturing (-0.35) and construction (-0.20).

June 1, 2011
Over one-third of California teens not getting gym classes at school

PE.JPGMore than 38 percent of the California's adolescent students (12-17) are not receiving any physical education at school -- despite state mandates. In addition only 42 percent of teens participate in PE on a daily basis, according to a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

School-based PE add an average of 18 minutes of exercise per week to the overall physical activity needed to maintain good health. UCLA researchers found only 19 percent of state teens getting the 60 minutes of activity per day recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Student participation physical education has been reduced -- if not cut completely -- at many schools due to budget cuts and various exemptions (such as making room for driver's training). The study suggests that PE class requirements be re-instituted for teens of all ages. (Participation tends to fall dramatically as students get older.)

PHOTO CREDIT: Sheldon High School students begin their PE class with calisthenics and stretching exercises in the school's main gymnasium. 1999 Sacramento Bee photo by Jay Mather

About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at:

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