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BUSINESS
June 12, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Some California health insurers are proposing to raise small-business rates more than 10% next month, drawing scrutiny from state regulators. Aetna Inc., which drew the ire of state insurance officials for a rate hike earlier this year, wants to increase premiums 10% on average, and as high as 24% for some employers. Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit insurer and a unit of WellPoint Inc., has proposed boosting rates 13%. Blue Shield of California is looking to charge some small employers up to 6% more.
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BUSINESS
June 1, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
California's new health insurance exchange awarded a contract worth nearly $360 million to create a website and enrollment system to help Californians shop for health coverage and determine whether they are eligible for subsidies under the federal healthcare law starting late next year. The California Health Benefit Exchange said it would start enrollment Oct. 1, 2013, for coverage that would take effect in January 2014. The exchange said it planned to pay a unit of Accenture, a Dublin, Ireland-based consulting firm, $183 million to build the system plus $176 million for operations and development over the next four years.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2012 | By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
SAN FRANCISCO - A homeless man plagued by schizophrenia is beaten to death by police in Fullerton. A man from Fort Bragg fixates on aliens for years while denying he is ill, then kills two men before dying in a gunfight with law enforcement. A Nevada County mental health client who had refused additional care storms into a clinic and kills three workers. Those headline grabbers, according to a task force pressing to change the California law that governs involuntary civil commitment to psychiatric hospitals, were merely the most visible signs of a broken system.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
California's doctors, hospitals and insurance companies have launched a united campaign against a proposed ballot measure seeking tighter regulation of health insurance rates, and proponents quickly returned fire. The proposed ballot initiative seeks to give the California Department of Insurance the same rate-setting authority over health insurance that it already holds over auto and property insurance policies. Calls for greater governmental control over rates have grown amid significant rate hikes for health insurance in recent years.
BUSINESS
February 23, 2012 | By Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
California's largest health insurers are raising average rates by about 8% to 14% for hundreds of thousands of consumers with individual coverage, outpacing the costs of overall medical care. The cost of goods and services associated with medical care grew just 3.6% over the last 12 months nationally, government figures show. But insurance premiums have kept climbing at a faster pace in California. Insurers defended their rate hikes, saying they are based on their claims experience with the customers they insure and not just the broader rate of medical inflation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 27, 2011 | By Scott Glover, Los Angeles Times
A proposed ballot measure that would require porn actors to wear condoms while filming in the city of Los Angeles has qualified for the June ballot, according to a letter from the city clerk certifying that proponents had gathered enough valid signatures. The initiative still faces a legal challenge by Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich. Trutanich filed court papers earlier this month saying that Los Angeles voters would have no legal authority to adopt the proposed measure even if it were placed on the ballot.
BUSINESS
December 14, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
A contract dispute between one of California's largest health insurers and UCLA could force thousands of patients at the university's medical centers to seek treatment elsewhere if the disagreement is not resolved by the end of December. Executives from Blue Shield of California and the University of California's health system are quarreling over reimbursement rates for medical treatment at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood and nearby Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital.
BUSINESS
September 1, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
A bill that would allow California officials to regulate health insurance rates for millions of consumers has died in the Legislature after forceful lobbying campaigns by insurers, healthcare providers and other groups. Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) said he is pulling his measure, AB52, because he could not muster a majority of votes in the state Senate, the final stop in a months-long effort to increase state regulators' authority over health insurance premiums. Feuer said he is putting his bill on hold until next year, when it can be taken up again.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 26, 2011 | By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
An appointee of  former Gov. Pete Wilson wasted more than $51,000 hobnobbing with celebrities — attending events including the Golden Globe Awards, World Magic Awards and a Julio Iglesias concert — while claiming he was recruiting for an anti-stigma program at the Department of Mental Health, a state audit said Thursday. Arthur Kassel, a Beverly Hills resident who served as a "special assistant" to the department's director, denied squandering his time on the state payroll, even though none of the celebrities he talked to ever did a public event or radio ad shedding light on the stigma attached to mental illness.
BUSINESS
August 13, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
A former attorney for one of the nation's largest health maintenance organizations has been picked to run the California agency that oversees health plans. Brent Barnhart, 68, was named by Gov. Jerry Brown this week to lead the state's Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates HMO coverage for more than 21 million Californians. Barnhart spent 13 years as senior counsel for the Oakland-based Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. The nonprofit provides healthcare to more than 8.8 million people in eight states and Washington, D.C. Barnhart came out of retirement to take the job, becoming the third director of the managed healthcare department since it was created more than a decade ago. The Danville, Calif., resident said he couldn't resist the opportunity to lead a consumer protection agency, particularly with national healthcare reform swiftly changing how health plans and providers deliver healthcare.
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