By Doug Heller
Anthem Blue Cross plans to go ahead with a 10.6% average annual health insurance rate hike on small business owners, despite the fact that an examination by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones found the rate increase to be unreasonable and unsupportable, the Insurance Commissioner announced yesterday.
An initiative measure that will appear on the next general election ballot would give California the authority to publicly review rate increases, and reject those that are excessive. Unlike most states, California law allows unreasonable rate increases to take effect.
By Tina Dupuy
The philosophy behind the quackery known as homeopathic medicine is that "like cures like." As in: have a burn, apply a hot compress. This widely-panned pseudoscience (oh man, am I going to get letters) in its 300 years of existence has a history of being debunked, going away and then popping up a few decades later.
But this is the solution the NRA offers: Too many shootings requires more people armed and able to shoot. The problem AND the cure are basically the same: lots of guns.
By Steve Early
Two of the biggest strikes in the last sixteen months were conducted by members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). Their target each time was Kaiser Permanente, the giant California health care chain that made $6 billion in profits since 2009 but still wants union job cuts and contract givebacks. Last August, CNA and NUHW formed an "Alliance of Kaiser Unions" dedicated to "raising standards for Kaiser caregivers and protecting Kaiser patients." The Alliance blasted the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the SEIU-dominated Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU) for choosing "to partner with Kaiser to increase the corporation's profitability at the expense of their own members and patients." On January 3, CNA and NUHW took their recent collaboration a step further, announcing NUHW's formal affiliation. CNA and NUHW will now jointly seek decertification of SEIU's 43,000 service and technical employees at Kaiser.
By Robert Cruickshank
One of the top issues facing the state legislature in 2013 will be reforming the California Environmental Quality Act. It's an idea whose time has come. CEQA is popular with environmentalists, but overall it has failed to achieve its goals of producing better development and protecting the state's environment. Since CEQA's passage in 1970, sprawl has exploded, carbon emissions have soared, species have been lost, and other environmental impacts have not been averted. Rather than promote environmentally friendly planning, CEQA's primary use is for NIMBYs who wish to prevent sustainable change. At times it does serve to stop projects that are truly bad for the environment, but those are rare cases, and too many good projects are delayed or made more expensive by the flawed process. California can do better.
By Linda Leu
In a major step forward for health reform implementation, last week the federal government gave the go-ahead for eight more states to start their insurance exchanges. Along with California, the states of Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Vermont and Utah received conditional approval to move forward with state based exchanges, while Arkansas received approval for a federal partnership exchange. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia will be operating their own exchanges come fall. Other states will have state and federal partnership exchanges, or will have exchanges that are run by the federal government.
By Dan Bacher
The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) became the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on January 1, 2013, but many Californians are wondering whether the controversial agency that presided over precipitous declines of chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other species will live up to its title and mission any better than it did under its previous name.
The new name was mandated by AB 2402, signed Sept. 25 by Governor Jerry Brown. The name change is one of numerous provisions passed into law during 2012 that affect the department, according to a news release from the CDFW.
By Robert Reich
"It's not all I would have liked," says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, speaking of the deal on the fiscal cliff, "so on to the debt ceiling."
The battle over the fiscal cliff was only a prelude to the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling - a battle that will likely continue through early March, when the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default on the nation's debt.
The White House's and Democrats' single biggest failure in the cliff negotiations was not getting Republicans' agreement to raise the debt ceiling.
The last time the debt ceiling had to be raised, in 2011, Republicans demanded major cuts in programs for the poor as well as Medicare and Social Security.
By Dan Aiello
Today Reuters reported that the draft regulations announced by the Brown administration set forth ostensibly to improve monitoring of the oil industry's hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," method of oil extraction from the state's depleted oil fields, are actually intended to increase the ability of the oil industry to use fracking in oil fields throughout California.
By Robert Cruickshank
If you read Calitics at any time between 2007 and 2010, you'd have seen a site focused on the same problem now facing the country as a whole: how to keep a government, an economy, and a society functioning in the face of Republican obstruction. The latest nonsense surrounding the so-called "fiscal cliff" shows that the House Republicans have learned well from their Sacramento counterparts. The method is the same: make Democrats do what they otherwise would not do by threatening to block passage of crucial legislation, then up the ante by rejecting initial deals and demanding even more once Democrats have shown they will make concessions to avoid the predicted disaster that comes with legislative inaction. The resulting deals were destructive to the state's economy and safety net, worsening the already bad financial and social crisis.
By Dick Meister
Here's some good news for the new year: Ten states are set to raise their minimum wage rates on January first.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) calculates that the increased rates will boost the pay of more than 850,000 low-income workers in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
The rates, raised in accord with state laws requiring automatic adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living, will go up by 10 to 35 cents an hour depending on the state. NELP figures that will mean $190 to $510 more a year for the four million workers who are paid at the minimum in those states.