A health care crisis is sweeping the Central Valley of California, devastating middle-class and poor families and threatening to overwhelm the region's fragile safety net.
The deep recession has pushed the ranks of the uninsured here to unprecedented levels. At the same time, a dire state budget deficit has forced lawmakers to drastically scale back or eliminate key health care programs for the state's poorest residents.
At the nexus of these two trends lies a troubling new reality: Across class lines, people are struggling to access care -- or simply are going without.
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