By Linda Leu
The California Health Benefit Exchange Board, charged with retooling California's healthcare system to comply with parameters for state healthcare exchanges set forth in the federal Affordable Care Act, met on Tuesday in Sacramento to consider a number of weighty policy issues.
The Board heard updates on implementation of California Health Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention System (CalHEERs) and the Service Center Options last heard at the September meeting of the Board. The CalHEERs IT build is well underway, with 71% of 717 requirements completed. The Exchange staff is on track to continue system design through April 2013, followed by system testing, and federal review in December of 2013.
By Steve Smith
With California's unemployment rate still over 10%, we should be using all available resources to strengthen our economy and create jobs. That's why it's so frustrating to see a wasteful corporate tax loophole draining resources that ought to be putting people back to work. But Prop 39 aims to change that, and anyone who truly cares about creating jobs in California should sprint to the polls on November 6th to pass this commonsense measure.
Last week in San Francisco leaders from California's labor, business and environmental communities stood together to close the loophole that's costing tens of thousands of jobs and slowing our economic recovery.
California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:
By Robert Cruickshank
In California media outlets often like to ask whether Governor Jerry Brown or state legislators will suffer for supporting high speed rail. Their assumption is that the risky move when it comes to HSR is to back it, and that opposing it comes at little political cost.
By Richard J. Jackson, MD MPH
In less than two weeks, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, which would require labeling of food sold in California grocery stores if the food contains genetically engineered ingredients. Sixty-one other countries already have this requirement in place. You should not have to be a chemist, toxicologist or geneticist to have trust in your food.
There is a long history of false reassurances in the environmental health world, including about many pesticides, fumigants, food dyes and preservatives. The most outrageous manipulations of public trust were industry denials of hazards from tobacco, and the misinformation from the lead industry, which worked aggressively in opposition to the concerns of pediatricians and others about lead's toxicity, especially to children.
By Martin J. Bennett
With the fall elections upon us, Californians are reeling under a weak recovery, enduring both historic levels of income inequality, and the most severe fiscal crisis in recent history. To address the crisis we must have some common sense remedies: raise taxes on the wealthy and build a movement for a fair and more equitable tax system.
Income inequality has exploded over the last two decades in both the nation and California. UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez has documented that the share of national income received by the upper 1 percent more than doubled from 9 percent in 1979 to an astonishing 23 percent in 2007. The richest 1 percent raked in a staggering 60 percent of the national income gains over these three decades, while the bottom 90 percent received just 9 percent.
By Dan Bacher
On October 24, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) hosted a press conference in Sacramento urging more federal support for levees in rural parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for a statewide cost-benefit analysis of the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).
Joined by a bipartisan coalition of local leaders representing diverse Delta communities, Garamendi, a Member of the House Natural Resources Committee and former Deputy U.S. Interior Secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the cost-benefit analysis is necessary to ensure the plan does not cause harm to Northern California farming, fishing, and tourism.
By Sheila Kuehl
Appearing on California's November ballot, Proposition 36 would change sentencing for those who commit a non-serious, non-violent felony, after having served time for two, prior, serious or violent felonies (the so-called "third strike"). There are a few exceptions, but, generally, current prisoners could apply for re-sentencing if their third strike was non-serious and non-violent.
There are three levels of crimes in California: felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. Felonies are the most serious and those convicted of felonies generally are sentenced to incarceration in state prisons. Felonies are also divided into categories, with the most egregious being "serious" or "violent" felonies, which are listed in California statute.
By Linda Leu
Last Thursday, the Assembly Health Committee held a hearing on Managed Care Program Initiatives at the Department of Health Care Services - that is, the transitions the DHCS is overseeing - including moving dual eligibles to managed care, moving seniors and people with disabilities to managed care, and moving "Healthy Families" kids to Medi-Cal.
Consumer advocates and legislators have expressed concerns over how well these transitions are going. Particularly, network adequacy and timely access rose to the surface as serious concerns for consumers who may be falling through the cracks in these transitions. Beth Capell of Health Access spoke of the importance of timely access, and that timely access is a good indicator that plans are financially solvent and that networks are adequate to provide care.
By Nan Brasmer
I am a senior citizen. I live on a fixed income. I'm voting No on Proposition 33 because it will raise automobile insurance rates on law abiding Californians like me, who have a health problem that keeps them off the road for a period of time.
Ten years ago, after living in pain for years, I had my hip replaced. I dropped my auto insurance for four months while I recovered. After all, I could not drive, and this helped me save some money.
But if Proposition 33 were the law, I would have been punished with higher insurance premiums for the next five years simply because I suspended my insurance when I did not need it. That's not fair.
By Malinda Markowitz, RN
It would be easy for voters, sick of the auction of California politics to the biggest spenders, to be tempted by the misleading advertising for Proposition 32. But all the ads for 32 ought to come with a warning label: beware of buyer's remorse.
Anyone who has seen the No on 32 endorsements from the real campaign finance reform groups, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and Public Citizen, probably already understands the initiative is not what it claims.