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Healthcare Costs

NEWS
May 31, 2013 | By Noam N. Levey
WASHINGTON - In another indication of the impact of slowing healthcare costs, the federal government Friday upgraded its assessment of the financial health of the Medicare insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Medicare's main trust fund will not begin operating in the red until 2026, two years later than projected last year, according to an annual report from the board of trustees that oversees the nation's major entitlement programs. Prospects for the Social Security retirement program, meanwhile, remain largely unchanged from last year, with the trustees estimating that the program's main trust fund, which provides assistance to some 46 million retirees and their relatives, will be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035.
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NEWS
May 31, 2013 | By Jon Healey
The trustees overseeing the finances of Social Security and Medicare issued their latest report Friday, declaring that a) the Social Security Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in 2035, the same estimate as last year; b) Medicare's hospital trust fund is expected to run out of money in 2026, a two-year improvement over last year's estimate; and c) the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in 2016, just as projected last year. So, what kind of spin would you put on this news?
OPINION
May 24, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
The state's new health insurance exchange gave an encouraging preview Thursday of the sweeping effects that the 2010 federal healthcare law will have on consumers next year, announcing lower-than-expected prices for individual policies. Still, the success of the exchange - which goes by the name Covered California - hinges on its ability to attract a large number of uninsured Californians to its policies, and to persuade health plans, doctors and hospitals to hold the line on costs. If it doesn't, Covered California could face a vicious cycle of ever-escalating premiums and dwindling customers.
BUSINESS
May 7, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu and Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times
Proposed legislation to remove junk food and sugar-loaded drinks from vending machines at California state office buildings and on government property is intensifying debate about when the battle against obesity becomes a gateway to "nanny state" tactics. Backers of the Assembly bill, AB 459, said California shouldn't condone the sale of fatty snacks and sodas in the workplace when taxpayers are already shelling out vast amounts to cover the healthcare costs of overweight government employees.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 1, 2013 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came out swinging against the city's labor unions last week, urging lawmakers - and the next mayor - to abandon or pare the 5.5% raise that comes due for many city employees on Jan. 1. Villaraigosa set a defiant tone as he unveiled his latest budget, his last before he leaves office after eight years, saying city workers need to contribute more toward their healthcare costs. Yet amid the tough talk, the mayor's spending plan shows he already has the money to cover those costs if the unions are unwilling to deal.
BUSINESS
April 7, 2013 | Alana Semuels
American employers are asking more from workers as they try to cut costs and become more productive to compete in a globalized world, as described in a Los Angeles Times Sunday story . But they're also giving them much less. Everything from the company picnic to professional development opportunities are shrinking; employers are less likely to pay for education, train their employees and help them find an apartment or adopt a child. “We've seen for well over a decade a shift towards where employees are just having to pay more,” said Laura Sejen, a practice leader at Towers Watson, a human resources consulting firm.
OPINION
April 4, 2013
Re "On the front lines of firearms debate," March 29 The National Rifle Assn. and others on the right may criticize New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the "nanny in chief," but he is on to something. Look around you: Most people are overweight or obese. They may watch sports, but they never participate and get the exercise they so badly need. They eat the wrong foods, especially in restaurants, and they never seem to move. We have an unhealthy nation, a major reason why healthcare costs are so high.
OPINION
April 2, 2013
Re "A bump for the healthcare law," Editorial, and "Health costs to rise 30% for some," March 29 The rise in insurance premiums is one of many "bumps" Californians will need to endure as provisions of President Obama's Affordable Care Act are put in place. Enacting complex laws is a mainstay of lobby groups designed to confuse Americans (exemplified by healthcare reform) and does not lead to a "more rational and efficient system," as the editorial puts it. This law continues to allow for-profit private insurance companies to have a stranglehold on the American healthcare system, while prospering countries around the world have devised efficient systems statistically proven to provide better care at lower cost.
OPINION
March 29, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
One figure in a new report neatly summarizes the potential pitfalls for Obamacare: 30.1%. That's how much premiums could rise next year, on average, for the roughly 1.3 million moderate- and upper-income Californians who buy individual health insurance policies. Most of that increase is attributable to the insurance reforms in the 2010 law, also known as the Affordable Care Act. The bill's title is not ironic - its provisions will slow the growth of healthcare costs and lead over time to a more rational and efficient system.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 26, 2013 | By Catherine Saillant
Saying it had no choice in the face of persistent budget deficits, the Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to examine a package of controversial cost-cutting proposals that one councilman likened to a “declaration of war” on city workers and business. The action, suggested by Councilman Bernard C. Parks, directs City Administrator Miguel Santana to prepare reports on a number of areas where the city could reduce costs, including doing away with a shortened work week for police officers, deferring or eliminating proposed employee raises and abandoning efforts to reduce the business tax. The city currently faces a budget shortfall of $150 million to $160 million, according to Santana.
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