Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ask A Kababayan:
Healthcare Reform Basic Info

This is an issue that will affect most if not all of us, and so we should take the time to learn the facts. Dito na po tayo nakatira sa Amerika kaya dapat lang na sumali tayo at pag-aralan ang anumang bagay na makakaapekto sa buhay natin dito.

As you (should) know, President Barack Obama’s endorsed healthcare reform bill include extending insurance to all Americans - but there will be no health insurance Federal aid to undocumented immigrants. ERs will still be obligated to treat all patients, including TNTs - this is not a new procedure. That system has been in place in previous administrations. It's a legal (and moral) obligation of U.S. hospitals and their staff.

Here are some basic info about the healthcare issue from Newsday.

Question: Where do most people in America get their insurance now?

Answer: An estimated 253.4 million people had coverage in 2007, according to the most recent analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau. The majority of those had private insurance, most of it obtained through an employer. Eighty-three million people got health insurance from the government through Medicare, Medicaid or some other program such as the Veterans Health Administration.

Q: How many people don’t have coverage?

A: The Census Bureau estimated that 45.7 million people in the country under age 65 did not have insurance in 2007. (Most discussions focus on those under 65 because senior citizens have access to Medicare.)

Many experts believe that the number of uninsured is higher now, perhaps more than 47 million, because so many people have lost coverage in the economic downtown. Even more people may go without coverage for a time as a result of changing jobs, leaving school or some other event. An analysis by the consumer group Families USA estimated that about 64.5 million people were uninsured for at least six months in 2007 and 2008. The majority of the uninsured, more than eight in 10, are in working families.

Q: Can any of the uninsured afford coverage?

A: Probably. Many younger people and healthy people choose not to get coverage. Some 4.5 million of the uninsured make at least four times the federal poverty level — or $43,320 a year for an individual and $88,200 for a family of four — according to an analysis by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and the Urban Institute. The analysis estimated that 15 million of the uninsured are below the federal poverty line of $10,830 for an individual and $22,050 for a family of four.

Q: Couldn’t those people qualify for government assistance?

A: Many probably could. One of the challenges that has confounded policymakers is how to get more poor people to sign up for aid. Congressional Democrats pushing health care legislation want to expand eligibility for Medicaid — the federal-state health insurance program for the poor — and ramp up outreach efforts.

Q: How many of the uninsured are undocumented immigrants?

A: As many as 7 million. An additional 3 million are legal immigrants, according to the U.S. Census.

Q: Will all of the people without insurance be covered under plans being developed in Congress?

A: Not all of them. The bills written by senior House Democrats and by the Senate health committee would explicitly prohibit undocumented immigrants from getting federal aid for health insurance. Although all the major proposals would require everyone to get health insurance, millions of people are expected to not sign up.

Under the House bill, the percentage of people with coverage (excluding undocumented immigrants) is expected to go from about 83 percent in 2010 to 97 percent in 2019, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which is charged with analyzing the cost and impact of proposed legislation. The Senate health bill would boost the coverage rate to 90 percent.

Q: Where will people be getting their health insurance if the bill succeeds?

A: The CBO estimated that in 10 years, most Americans under 65 will get private insurance though their employers. In fact, the number of people with employer-based coverage is expected to grow.

As many as 30 million people would get their insurance through exchanges created by the legislation. These new, highly regulated marketplaces would offer people a choice of health plans provided by private insurers and the government. Of those in the exchanges, fewer than 11 million are expected to get their insurance from the government plan, according to CBO.

[photo: baltimoresun.com]

Monday, August 17, 2009

Family of murdered Filipina American still seeking justice and closure

By Yong B. Chavez

It's been 5 years since the lifeless body of Sharon Anne Santos was found inside her car's trunk but her family's search for justice continues.

"I still miss her. I still think of her everyday," her sister Sandra Santos says.

Although a suspect in her killing is in jail for unrelated charges, the fact that no one has been charged with her death adds to their pain. The family is hoping that the Filipino American community will help them in their quest to push the Burbank Police Department to actively pursue Sharon's case just like they did at the beginning when even mainstream media was reporting about the tragedy.

Sharon's mother Edna is living every mother's worst nightmare. Every day she can't help but think about Sharon's last moments as she fought for her life.

Please watch my complete story on Sharon Anne Santos tonight
on Balitang America.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Old-But-New Quest Crew Interview

The interview took place a few months ago but I never got the chance till now to upload this funny/revealing interview with D-Trix and Ryan, the amazing Pinoy boys from Quest Crew. I got to interview the other members of QC during Apl's label launching. Those guys are the most fun to talk to. Will post Extras from that event soon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My interview with the Black Eyed Peas at Apl.de.Ap's Jeepney Music Launch

Watch my interview with the Black Eyed Peas and the complete story about Apl's record label, Jeepney Music, on Balitang America, The Filipino Channel, on Thursday, August 13.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


If you get a call from someone saying that they are debt collectors from “Financial Accountability Association” or the “Federal Legislation of Unsecured Loans", the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says that you take extreme caution before you deal with them - even if they rattle off your personal information to get you to believe that they are legit.

Debt collector scammers might have your Social Security and bank account numbers, home addresses, driver's license numbers, employer information, and even the names of personal friends and professional references. They will mention them when the call you.

“Because the scammers have so much information about potential victims, BBB is concerned that this may be the result of a data breach,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson, said in a press release.

The organization recently issued a national alert about calls coming from lawyers claiming to be from those two companies.

These callers say that the consumer has defaulted on a payday loan and will be sued and immediately arrested and extradited to California to stand trial unless as much as $1,000 is wired. They will ask for bank account or credit card numbers if you say you can't wire the money.

According to complaints online, phone numbers that the scammers are calling from include: 949-468-5107, 415-200-0274, 415-200-0274, 213-784-5745, 408-715-1614 and many others.

More info from the Better Business Bureau website
What to do consumers receive a suspicious telephone call about an outstanding debt:
• Ask the debt collector to provide official documentation which substantiates the debt.
• Do not provide or confirm any bank account, credit card or other personal information over the phone until you have confirmed the legitimacy of the call.
• File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online if the caller is abusive, uses threats or otherwise violates federal telemarketing laws.
File a complaint with BBB online if you believe a debt collector is trying to scam you.
Photo credit: cbsnews.com

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I feel awful for neglecting my own site due to my crazy schedule. I wish I have 48 hours a day. For those who drop in here and don't see anything new everyday, I'm sorry - but please leave me a note on Twitter - story requests, news tips, comments, what-have-you.


I update it daily (as of now) and I often mention the stories I'm currently working on.

This week, I'm doing a story on Sharon Anne Santos' case. It's become a cold case, unfortunately, and her family is still seeking justice for her death 5 years after. Watch for my story on Balitang America.

Next week, I will cover the Joseph Ileto 10th year memorial service.

After my run of fun features, it's a bit jarring to jump into serious stories again but it's important to tell these stories. As a community reporter, that's my primary responsibility.

But, I hope to do more features again soon. I'm going to pitch a number of fun interviews again and hopefully they'll get approved.

I might also be doing a regular series dealing with consumer advocacy. It's a project close to my heart. I hate scammers and wish to be able to warn and help our kababayans deal with them. More on that later this week.