Dugan, Judy


Fracking Regulations Only Exxon Could Love

By Judy Dugan

California's oil and gas industry regulators are about to write final state regulations on the controversial practice of fracking natural gas and oil wells in the state. Don't expect any backbone, however, from the state Department of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Regulation. So far, the draft proposals boil down to "trust the oil industry."

Health Insurance: Rebates Are a Drop In the Bucket, but Justifying Rates Means Real Savings

By Judy Dugan
Consumer Watchdog

Thursday's reports that some Californians will get rebates on their health insurance premiums are a little bit of good news--but not nearly as good as it could be.

An L.A. Times story reports that California small businesses and their employees who are insured by United Health Group will get rebates averaging $98 on last year's premiums because United Health didn't spend at least 80% of the premiums on health care, a requirement under the federal health reform. The total will come to about $3.5 million in the state. Other insurers may also owe money on small business, large employer and individual policies--the figures are still being crunched.

Out of State Corporations Fighting to Keep Tax Loophole Are Top U.S. Tax Dodgers

By Judy Dugan
Consumer Watchdog

Three of the five global corporations behind a coalition aimed at protecting $1 billion a year in California tax loopholes are among the nation’s top tax evaders, said Consumer Watchdog. They are:

- International Paper Co., whose outlandish deductions and credits gained through Congressional earmarks left it with less-than-zero federal taxes on $198 million dollars in 2010 profit. The company’s refund of $249 million exceeded its profits.

- Procter and Gamble, described by Fortune Magazine as in a class with GE when it comes to tax manipulation. It structured more than $6 billion in sell-offs since 2002 to avoid billions in federal tax and hundreds of millions in state taxes.

Clock is Ticking: Bill to Curb Health Insurance Rates Faces Assembly Showdown Amid Storm of Industry Lobbying

By Judy Dugan
Consumer Watchdog

The health insurance industry's lobbying muscle in the California Legislature is legendary. It's the reason that the state's insurance commissioner remains all but toothless to reject outrageous spikes in health insurance premiums and rates, unlike in a majority of other states. So it's not a shock that a new version of a bill to let the state insurance commissioner reject or modify health insurance premiums barely squeaked through the state Assembly's Appropriations Committee late last week with the minimum 9 votes.

The bill will face another firestorm of industry lobbying when it comes up for a full Assembly vote by Friday. The legislators have a choice: Go with the lobbying by an industry that pours millions of dollars into their coffers, or the millions of Californians who can barely afford their health insurance or have lost it because it’s become unaffordable.