TOPIC: health

Grapes of Wrath? You can’t afford ‘em

Can a California family of three survive on $480 a month? The 1.5 million recipients of CalWORKs, the state’s welfare-to-work program, are about to find out. (more…)

One step closer to containing health insurance costs in California

The free rein that medical insurers in California enjoy in setting and raising rates moved a step closer to the history books as a politically charged state Assembly approved a bill that would grant oversight authority to the state’s elected insurance commissioner.

While Dan Walters’ story in The Sacramento Bee focuses much more on the process and political maneuvering than on the outcome, the bill’s advancement to the state Senate, just hours before it was scheduled to die on the floor, is a reform long sought by advocates and consumers who have seen health insurance costs rising far faster than wages. Medical insurance companies lobbied heavily against the measure. (more…)

California debates better health insurance rates for individuals

Work to allow state insurance regulators authority over health plans has stalled in the California legislature, over objections to the breadth of the proposed oversight powers according to Shaya Tayefe Mohajer of the Associated Press.  California’s elected Insurance Commissioner has broad powers over automobile insurance — for example homeowners and life insurance — but regulatory authority over medical insurance rates is much more limited.

With double digit increases hitting the California individual insurance market every few months, efforts to increase health insurance regulation of have grown stronger, especially on behalf of individuals. (more…)

Blue Shield of California not ready to cross that line

Blue Shield of California announced that it is abandoning its third planned rate increase of the year for individual policy holders, according to the Associated Press.

The word comes after Blue Shield and other insurers were admonished by state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and asked to temporarily delay the hikes. Jones promptly launched an investigation into the latest round of increases, apparently searching for errors under the commissioner’s limited purview.

The result is unlikely to provide solace to policyholders. (more…)

On West Coast, states of denial from nuclear threat in Japan

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is assuring anxious Americans on the West Coast that any radiation released during emergencies at several Japanese reactors will dissipate over the Pacific, according to a story by David Freeman of CBS News.

Honey, have you seen my lead boxers?

The story, accompanied by dire warnings and gruesome graphics, however, appears more designed to inflame than reassure. It cites an expert from Physicians for Social Responsibility warning that the reactors could release more radiation than 1,000 Hiroshima sized bombs. (more…)

HHS nursing home report raises new fears

Long synonymous with the fear of reaching an advanced age and becoming unable to protect yourself, the words “nursing home” are once again striking fear into the hearts of older Americans and their relatives.   Christina Jewett of CaliforniaWatch exposes findings of a report by the federal Health and Human Services Inspector General that is almost certain to raise anxiety on a question that already makes people anxious. (more…)

Medicaid problems popping up all over

After hearing screams from local officials that decay and blight will spread across the state if redevelopment agencies are dissolved, Medi-Cal advocates are now employing every argument short of “death panels” to blunt proposed cuts to the federal-state program known elsewhere as Medicaid.

According to a comprehensive look presented by Christina Jewett in CaliforniaWatch, supporters of the program are warning that a proposed hard cap of 10 doctor or clinic visits a year is a “death sentence” for California’s sick and poor. (more…)

Most California health insurers ready to wait on rate increases

Three of the four California health insurers planning substantial rate increases for holders of individual policies have acceded to a request from state regulators for a voluntary 60-day postponement.

Blue Shield of California is the lone holdout, reports Victoria Colliver of the San Francisco Chronicle. The other companies — Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, and PacifiCare — all agreed to wait until March, giving California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones time to review the rate hike applications. (more…)

Nowhere to go but…nowhere: individual health insurance in California

As California insurance regulators await responses from major health insurers as to whether or not they’ll comply with a voluntary 60-day delay on their latest rate hike applications, holders of those policies are dumbfounded by the newest in a series of rapid-fire rate hikes and wondering how they can absorb the higher costs. (more…)

Red ink rules in California

Governor Jerry Brown has promised to pull back the curtain exposing the gory details in California’s fiscal chamber of horrors, but the real question is whether lobbyists, legislators and voters are willing to confront reality.

As Shane Goldmacher reports in the Los Angeles Times, every demographic is being asked to shoulder some of the pain. The initial budget plan, rolled out at a press conference this morning, calls for cuts to the salaries of state workers and depends on voter approval of an extension of temporary tax increases put in place by Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (more…)