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BUSINESS
March 21, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
U.S. lawmakers have asked Gilead Sciences Inc. to justify the price of its new $84,000 drug for hepatitis C patients amid growing concern about the high cost to taxpayers and consumers. In a letter to the Foster City, Calif., company, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and two other Democratic lawmakers asked Gilead Chief Executive John C. Martin to explain the rationale for selling Sovaldi for $1,000 per pill. Medical experts say previous therapies for hepatitis C helped only about half of patients and had numerous side effects, such as flu-like symptoms, anemia and depression.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 20, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
One year after the South Coast Air Quality Management District found that arsenic emissions from a Vernon battery plant posed a cancer risk to more than 100,000 people, the agency has approved Exide Technologies Inc.'s plan to reduce health risks. Exide issued a statement saying it had "worked diligently" with regulators and intends to invest more than $5 million in the facility as a result of the new plan, on top of $15 million the company has already spent or pledged for other environmental and public health-related improvements since 2010.
BUSINESS
March 20, 2014 | By Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - President Obama teased Ellen DeGeneres about the selfie she took at the Oscars and confessed to leaving his socks and shoes lying around while the first lady is out of town, but before the end of his Thursday appearance on her talk show, he got DeGeneres to put in a plug for the Affordable Care Act. That's Obama's deal with popular media these days as the president enlists help to boost healthcare sign-up numbers before the March 31...
BUSINESS
March 19, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla and Chad Terhune
Under fire for a shortage of Latino sign-ups for Obamacare, the state's health insurance exchange is looking for a booster shot from a well-established Southern California clinic chain. One recent weekday, Maria de Lourdes Martinez sat at a cubicle inside an AltaMed enrollment office in East Los Angeles browsing through the health plans available under the Affordable Care Act. Martinez, 49, of Rosemead, came to this strip-mall storefront across from a Starbucks because she'd brought her grandmother to an AltaMed clinic before.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 16, 2014 | By Jill Cowan
For years, Orange County has been the contrarian while its neighbors have used distinctive and easy-to-spot letter grades to alert would-be diners what to expect when they swing open the door to a restaurant. Now, Orange County is studying whether it too should move in that direction - but rather than assign letter grades, it's considering using colors. Think traffic lights. The color-coded system advanced by the county grand jury - green, yellow and red - would be similar to those used in Sacramento and Alameda counties.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2014 | By Chad Terhune and Soumya Karlamangla
California is nearing 1 million people enrolled in Obamacare coverage, but the state's insurance exchange is still running behind in signing up Latinos and young people. In figures released Thursday, the state said 923,832 people had picked a health plan through March 9, and about 1.5 million people have enrolled or been deemed eligible for an expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program for the poor. But the overall rate of health plan sign-ups slowed during February, partly hurt by a five-day outage of the state's enrollment website.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 12, 2014 | By James Rainey
A nonprofit that operates 10 health centers downtown, in South Los Angeles and in Compton will increase its employees' pay to a minimum of $15 an hour in what it deemed an anti-poverty measure intended to jump-start "living wage" efforts around the region. The wage hike by St. John's Well Child and Family Center, to be announced Thursday, will increase the pay of 137 workers, many of whom now make $11 to $12 an hour. The chief executive of the health provider said that as it celebrates its 50th year in existence, St. John's wants to honor its historic roots.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 11, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison
Officials plan to hold a community meeting next week to discuss elevated levels of lead found in soil at homes and a preschool near a battery recycling plant in southeast Los Angeles. The findings have prompted officials to issue health precautions and order expanded testing in more neighborhoods. State officials said the initial testing of 39 homes and apartments as well as two schools concerned them enough that they ordered Exide Technologies to create a plan for more testing and to protect children and pregnant women living in the area.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 11, 2014 | By Jessica Garrison and Abby Sewell
Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to create a "strike team" that will target facilities that emit toxic pollutants - the first being the Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon. The team of public health officials, prosecutors, fire department officials and others will look for ways to close the plant, which has been accused of endangering the health of more than 100,000 people with lead and arsenic emissions. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control and the South Coast Air Quality Management District regulate the plant, but Supervisor Gloria Molina said she has grown frustrated with what she views as a lack of swift action to protect public health.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 11, 2014 | By Eryn Brown
Both sides are claiming victory in the latest flare-up between Los Angeles County and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In a March 7 decision, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin struck down the foundation's challenge to two county contracts that were  awarded without a competitive bidding process. The contracts went to UCLA and St. John's Well Child and Family Center for providing healthcare and other services to young people living with or at risk for HIV. Officials said that the ruling "clearly validates the county's contracting efforts.
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