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Community Health Clinics Provide Critical Safety Net

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By Chris Levister –

A fight has broken out in San Bernardino, Fresno, Sacramento and other cities across California over how to spend millions of federal stimulus dollars earmarked for low- income community health centers known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). Health providers are concerned that state policy makers are employing unfair tactics and gimmicks to use enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds from the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to plug budget holes rather than strengthen critical health safety net services. Dr. Temetry Lindsey, President and CEO of Inland Behavioral and Health Services (IBHS) operates three (FQHCs) in San Bernardino County.

First Lady Michelle Obama announced the release of $850 million in stimulus grants in Washington, June 29, 2009. The funds are earmarked to help community health centers such as the Inland Behavioral and Health Services (IBHS) provide care to the most needy residents. IBHS officials say a fight has broken out over how California is using those federal grants to close budget gaps.In 2009 the not-for-profit received roughly $800,000 in stimulus money to expand low income health services in light of San Bernardino County’s soaring uninsured population.

The funds were allocated as a result of a 35% increase in uninsured patients in 2008. Lindsey says the stimulus money was earmarked to pay for a portion of that increased care and expand the center’s information technology capacity.

She said in the midst of the 2009 budget meltdown, lawmakers made deep cuts to state funded health programs and used accounting gimmicks and faulty one-time solutions which ended up costing IBHS $117,000 in lost revenue over a two year period.

“Where we received a dollar in federal stimulus money to expand services, California withheld two dollars in state funding. On one hand we are required to sustain current service and staffing levels. At the same time accepting the stimulus funds we are obligated to expand services.”

In what amounts to a temporary fix, Lindsey says IBHS was forced to elevate several part-time positions to full time.

“State funds intended to hire additional nurses, outreach workers and other staff were cut. We were able to hire an additional physician. In a nutshell, we’re upside down. Even with the stimulus funds we’re forced to do more with less.”

She said the state cuts cripple efforts to address a host of health problems community health centers can fight through preventive care. Lindsey says legal challenges and other stop actions taken by FQHCs nationwide have failed to gain traction.

“There’s a real concern over how much time, energy and money you should dedicate to fighting the elephant in the room.”

Last June First Lady Michelle Obama announced the release of $850 million in stimulus grants to centers such as IBHS. The stimulus law set aside about $2.5 billion for free and low-cost health clinics.

Two earlier sets of grants awarded just under $500 million to FQHCs.

A report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office stated that the Governor’s proposed 2010 reductions to the Expanded Access to Primary Care program, Medi-Cal and other key clinic programs will further limit access to state funded primary and preventative health care, and create new barriers for the thousands of low income individuals that count on these programs.

Three Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)in San Bernardino County provide free and low cost health and dental services to the region's most vulnerable populations.California once again will look under sofa cushions and scour every sector of state government to find another $20.7 billion to balance its budget over the next 19 months. The governor has to present his spending plan for the 2010-11 fiscal year to the Legislature by January 10, and is likely to include more deep cuts to health care, education and prisons.

“We’re bracing for more cuts,” said Lindsey.

Lawmakers will have to cut just about every area of government –except for a couple. The state accepted federal stimulus funds for education and Medi-Cal, so the state can’t cut those programs.

That means cuts to other programs will be much deeper.

In late March 2009 Schwarzenegger signed a bill to change eligibility requirements for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. Those changes allowed the state to receive more than $10 billion in federal stimulus funding.

However in May the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ruled that action violated home healthcare workers compensation requirements. The legislature was ordered to rescind the cuts or lose $6.8 billion in stimulus funding.

“It’s been well documented that San Bernardino County is an area of immense need with fewer health resources than the rest of the state,” said Lindsey.

In spite of the evidence on the important role community clinics play medically, economically and socially in serving the area’s most vulnerable population Lindsey says, Governor Schwarzenegger’s latest budget recommendations ignore the devastating impact on the ability of FQHCs to continue to provide a health care safety net.

 

Tuskegee Airmen Honored at Rose Parade

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The Tuskegee Airmen were honored in the Tournament of Roses Parade. The late Howard A. Tibbs was one of the original Airmen. His wife Betty and son Phillip traveled to California to see the float honoring the Airmen and to see Ohio play. Sixteen of the original group were able to take part in the parade and ride the float that was commissioned by the West Covina Rose Float Foundation.

Mayor's Challenge Aids Youth & Families

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Riverside Mayor Ron LoveridgeTargets four key goals to augment life and opportunities for children and families

Mayor Ron Loveridge recently set four locally-defined goals and targets to augment the quality of life and opportunities for children and families as part of the National League of Cities Action Challenge for Children and Families.

However, his challenge has received mixed emotions from the community.

In a press release, he said the Challenge was created to promote city leadership and accountability, while encouraging mayors to build on innovative local strategies that enrich the well-being of children, youth and families. Nationwide, over 100 Mayors from major metropolitan cities have joined the Challenge. Mayor Loveridge’s goals include:

· Opportunities to learn and grow: Establish service-learning opportunities for students in Riverside.

· A safe neighborhood to call home: Reestablish “At Home in Riverside” program promoting neighborhood livability and school success.

· A healthy lifestyle and environment: Promote fitness and walking by establishing a “100 Mile Club” at Riverside elementary schools.

· A financially fit family in which to thrive: Partner with United Way to provide financial planning workshops throughout the City.

“The success of cities is measured in large part by the opportunities we provide for families, children and youth to build a strong foundation”, said Mayor Ron Loveridge. “The four elements of the Action Challenge encompass the building blocks needed to create a thriving city.”

Loveridge’s announcement has been met in the Black community with raised eyebrows and some skepticism and applause. It is a wait and see by some.

“Our youth need something now not just in the summer. We use to hire nearly 20 kids at the recreation centers. Those jobs are and have been gone for some time and the youth are going other places to make money, sometimes it creates trouble. We will just wait and see what this new initiative develops,” said one person who asked not to be identified.

However, Sylvia Martin James, one of the city leaders and a retired teacher said, “the first steps have been taken. Look at the parks, families know they are welcome.

This is a move to create environments that families feel they are welcome.”

During the summer, Mayor Loveridge partnered with the United Way to provide free financial literacy workshops to families in the community. Throughout the Challenge, Mayor Loveridge will continue making strides in each target area; positively impacting the quality of life for youth and families in Riverside.

“The Mayor’s plan is for the entire city, but it’s the Blacks and Hispanic kids that are suffering if no provisions are made to include them,” stated the unidentified person. For more information, please visit Mayor Loveridge’s website at www.riversideca.gov/mayor.

Cheryl Brown contributed to this article.

Kwanzaa Celebrated in the Inland Empire

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By Cheryl Brown –

For forty-three years the Jacocks have been celebrating Kwanzaa, a culturally known holiday developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Bill “Ratibu” Jacocks and his wife Wilmer “Amina” Carter, now a California Assemblymember, have celebrated Kwanzaa from the beginning first in their home and after outgrowing the space moved to other venues. This year, the event, attended by about 150 people, was held at the Rialto Senior Citizen’s Center.

Ratibu Jacocks and A. Majadi begin this year’s Kwanzaa celebration.The Kwanzaa celebration focuses on traditional African values of family, community responsibility, culture commerce and self-improvement and is guided by seven principals. It is celebrated December 26th to January 1st with each night celebrating a different principle, Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (Collective economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

The program, sponsored by the Inland Empire Kwanzza Group, opened with a Drum Call by A. Majadi, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls’ Club.

Emcees were Imani Baylor and Aallyah Bey with the welcome from Dr. Mpigani Kweli and singing the Black National anthem led by Lauren Smith.

Singers Jazmine Bey and spoken word by Josiliyn McDaniel, Sarah Shabazz, and Chantel Earl.

Also on program were the Black Student Leadership Alliance from Carter High School, Shonda “Shandi” Hutton, and rounding out the evening was Ratibu lighting the candles.

 

Percy E. Sutton, Politician and Malcolm X Lawyer, Dies at 89

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Percy E. SuttonPercy E. Sutton, the pioneering civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X has died at the age of 89.

In a written statement, President Barack Obama states: “Percy Sutton was a true hero to African Americans in New York City and around the country. We will remember him for his service to the country as a Tuskegee Airman, to New York State as a state assemblyman, to New York City as Manhattan Borough President, and to the community of Harlem in leading the effort to revitalize the world renowned Apollo Theater. His life-long dedication to the fight for civil rights and his career as an entrepreneur and public servant made the rise of countless young African Americans possible. Michelle and I extend our deepest condolences to his family on this sad day.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson recalled Sutton talking about electing a Black president as early as 1972.

He states that Sutton was influential in getting his 1984 campaign going.

Born on November 24, 1920 in San Antonio, Texas, Sutton was the youngest of 15 siblings. His father was born free, three years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Both parents were educators and business people. Sutton supported himself with odd jobs while attending three historically black colleges: Prairie View College, Hampton Institute, and Tuskegee Institute. He joined the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and served as an intelligence officer in World War II with the famous Tuskegee Airmen.

After being honorably discharged in 1945, Sutton earned his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and passed the New York bar in 1950. He then returned to the military as a trial judge advocate.

In 1953, Sutton left the military and, with his brother, Oliver Sutton, and George Covington, set up a law partnership. For many years, Percy Sutton was the attorney for Malcolm X. After Malcolm’s death, Sutton continued to represent the Shabazz family, when needed, without cost. The Sutton and Covington law firm, always socially conscious, handled many cases without cost.

Sutton was elected President of the New York NAACP in 1961 and participated in, and gave leadership to, many civil rights demonstrations and protests. He helped to integrate the Greyhound Bus Station lunch counter in Montgomery, Alabama in 1961.

Sutton’s early political efforts were not too successful. But after 11 years (1953-1964) of losing elections, Sutton was elected a New York State Assemblyman in 1964.

As an Assemblyman, Sutton was a major supporter of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Another initiative of his was the Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge (S.E.E.K.) program, which, today, enables thousands of disadvantaged students to gain a college education.

In 1966, the New York City Council chose Sutton to become Manhattan Borough President. Reelected in his own right by an overwhelming majority, he was, for 11 years (1966-77), the highest elected African American official in the state.

Center In 1971, Sutton founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation, which purchased and developed radio stations WLIBAM and WBLS-FM; making them the first black-owned stations in New York City. In 1981, Sutton rescued from bankruptcy the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem. He created the nationally syndicated television show, “It’s Showtime at the Apollo,” and operated the theater until 1991.

In 1995 and 1996, Sutton represented the United States as a business delegate to the Group of Seven (G-7) Nations meeting on Telecommunications and High Technology in Brussels, and the G-7 developing nations Intelligence Technology Conference in South Africa, respectively.

Sutton has received more than 750 national, international, and local awards. In 1986, Sutton was granted the NAACP’s highest award, the Spingarn Medal.

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