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BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
After months of head counts for Obamacare, it is the medical bills that will start to matter now. Even before enrollment closes Monday, California has far exceeded its initial goals for signing up people under the Affordable Care Act. Although the sheer volume of 1.1 million policyholders is impressive for a brand new government program, the number of sicker patients is what's likely to draw the most attention. How sick they are and the size of their medical bills will be front and center in the weeks to come as insurers begin drawing up next year's insurance rates, which will become public this summer.
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BUSINESS
March 30, 2014 | By Lisa Zamosky
Monday is the last day to begin the process of signing up for insurance under the Covered California statewide health exchange. But even for many of those already enrolled, the challenges are just beginning. Consider, for instance, the work to be done in figuring out your new health plan's coverage for prescription drugs. For people who take medications on an ongoing basis, it's especially important to closely evaluate details of a health plan's drug coverage. For Tina Petrakis, selecting a new health plan through Covered California meant paying close attention to the medications each policy covered.
NATIONAL
March 30, 2014 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - President Obama's healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show. As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 28, 2014 | By Anh Do
Orange County health officials met in an emergency session this week after the latest measles tally showed the number of cases in the county had rocketed in the last few weeks. There are now 21 confirmed cases of measles in Orange County, the most of any county in California and nearly five times the number of cases in the entire state at this time last year, health officials said. Across the state, the numbers also moved forward, climbing to 49 cases by Friday. Last year, at this time, there were only four reported in the entire state.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 28, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
A Vernon battery recycler under fire for contaminating nearby homes with lead and threatening the health of more than 100,000 people with its arsenic emissions is in trouble once again for emitting more than the permitted level of lead, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. As a result, the agency will order Exide to curtail its operations by 15%. On March 22 and 23, an air monitor on the northeast side of the Exide Technologies plant, near the Los Angeles River, picked up lead levels that were high enough to cause the outdoor air concentration to exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter based on a 30-day average - a violation of rules designed to protect public health.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 27, 2014 | By Abby Sewell
The head of Los Angeles County's public health department - one of the largest agencies of its kind in the nation - announced he is retiring, now that a controversial campaign to break apart his agency has been abandoned. Jonathan Fielding was named the first head of the public health agency in 2006, when county supervisors separated it from the department that runs the county's large hospitals and network of community medical clinics. He had previously served in a similar position as the county's health officer.
BUSINESS
March 27, 2014 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Ten Southern California surgery centers once affiliated with the defunct 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign are suing UnitedHealth Group Inc. to get reimbursed for hundreds of Lap-Band weight-loss procedures. The lawsuit comes amid federal and state investigations into allegations that the surgery centers defrauded UnitedHealth Group and other insurance companies, according to a government affidavit and a demand letter filed in two federal court cases. The 1-800-GET-THIN ads once blanketed Southern California freeway billboards and broadcast airwaves, but the campaign was halted after the Food and Drug Administration said the ads failed to disclose adequately the risks of weight-loss surgery.
OPINION
March 23, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
There's no clearer sign that state environmental regulators have failed to protect public health than the warning issued this month to parents living in the shadow of the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon: Don't let children play in the dirt in your backyard. Tests of 39 homes and one preschool within two miles of the plant revealed that all had levels of lead in the soil that should trigger health evaluations. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause children to develop learning disabilities and behavioral problems.
BUSINESS
March 23, 2014 | By Lisa Zamosky
If you don't  have health insurance and want it, now is the time to act. The deadline to sign up for coverage under Obamacare is fast approaching. Experts have many suggestions.   Some recommendations are as easy as calling the state insurance exchange, insurers, insurance brokers or one of many enrollment counselors hired to help you. But have patience. It could involve a long wait. Here are things to consider. Know the deadline.  You have until March 31 to buy a private health plan that will take effect by May 1. If you miss the deadline, you won't be eligible to buy insurance again until open enrollment returns in November, and that coverage won't take effect until 2015.
BUSINESS
March 23, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
For three decades, alcoholics and addicts sought sobriety in the desert at the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage. But in recent years, the best-known name in substance abuse recovery lost much of its luster as internal strife, competition from luxury rehab centers and industry turmoil took their toll. All that led to the once-unimaginable takeover of the center last month by the Hazelden Foundation, another addiction treatment pioneer. Now Hazelden, a Minnesota nonprofit, is looking to preserve the former first lady's legacy with an ambitious expansion in Southern California and beyond.
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