Hola ¿qué tal?, Hi there.
In 2010, the U.S Congress passed one of the largest and most transforming bills in the history of the country: The Affordable Care Act. This bill is already changing the way we all live and it affects one of the most important issues we all face: our health.
My name is María G. Ortiz-Briones, and I am glad to be the new health and environmental reporter for Vida en el Valle. My position is funded through a fellowship from The California Endowment, which aims to increase awareness about Latinos' health care issues in the state.
I will be covering issues impacting Latinos in the Central Valley -- from Visalia to Sacramento -- while trying to create an informed constituency among the region's Latinos, policymakers and community leaders. Among the issues my reporting will focus on is the implementation of the new health care act, obesity, diabetes and other health issues that impact the Latino community.
My coverage of the Affordable Care Act will include reporting on whether funds awarded to community clinics are being used properly as well as the efforts to enroll newly eligible Valley residents into health insurance. There will be a new way for small business, families and individuals to get health insurance -- the Health Insurance Marketplace, which will begin accepting enrollments in October.
The Affordable Care Act allows each state to choose how to operate the marketplace: some states might create and run their own Marketplace while others will be supported by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
In the coming days there will be a few events related to the Affordable Care Act that you might not want to miss if you are either a small-business owner or an uninsured individual.
In Madera County, a series of workshops about the health care reform and its effects on employers, employees and the community will be held on Feb. 20 and March 1. For more information to attend the workshops, call the Madera Chamber of Commerce at (559) 673-3563.
In Fresno County, a health care reform information session explaining the new health care options for individuals and families will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m on Feb. 21 in Huron at the community center. The session will be in English and Spanish.
As part of my health reporting project, I will begin writing a new community health blog -- TuValleTuSalud/YourValleyYourHealth. My goal for this blog as well as with my reporting will be to increase community awareness and knowledge among the Central Valley's Latino communities about the issues affecting them. Obesity, diabetes, air pollution, lack of access to clean drinking water, pesticides are some of the many local issues that I will be covering.
It is an honor to take on this task. I began my career by studying journalism at California State University, Northridge and moved to the Central Valley in April 2001 taking a job with The Hanford Sentinel as a general assignment reporter. I have continued to work for more than a decade in daily journalism in the Central Valley. During that time I've been the editor of a Spanish-language publication in Kings County. I have worked as reporter covering education and have served as both a features writer and editor. And most recently, I was the features copy editor for three Gannett newspapers in California.
I hope that my readers and sources will always feel welcome to share their thoughts, opinions and views. Let me know what health or environmental issues are affecting your community. I would love to hear from you. You can reach me by e-mail at email@example.com, via Twitter at @TuValleTuSalud or on Facebook at Tu Valle, Tu Salud.
Vida en el Valle is the country's most-awarded bilingual weekly newspaper published by McClatchy Newspapers covering California's Central Valley with editions in Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Merced and Fresno.
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