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April 13, 2010 | By Duke Helfand
Thousands of worried Californians who buy individual insurance policies from Anthem Blue Cross will soon learn whether they face rate increases of up to 39% that were put on hold for two months amid a public outcry that helped revive national healthcare legislation. California's largest for-profit health insurer agreed to postpone the increases for many of its 800,000 individual policyholders until May 1 while an outside actuary, appointed by state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, evaluated its spending practices.
February 23, 2010 | By Duke Helfand
California's largest for-profit health insurer violated state law more than 700 times over a three-year period by failing to pay medical claims on time and misrepresenting policy provisions to customers, the state's insurance commissioner said Monday. Anthem Blue Cross of Woodland Hills could face fines of up to $7 million stemming from the alleged violations from 2006 to 2009. Commissioner Steve Poizner said the insurer repeatedly failed to respond to state regulators in a "reasonable time" as they investigated complaints over the last year.
February 10, 2010 | By Marc Lifsher
Two California gubernatorial candidates are pushing insurers and the state's two major pension funds to sell more than $6 billion worth of holdings in companies doing business in Iran. Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner is expected Wednesday to ask hundreds of state-licensed insurance companies to pull money out of 50 foreign-owned corporations he said are involved in Iran's nuclear, military and energy sectors. On Monday, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown called on the nation's two largest public pension funds, the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, to "honor the state law" requiring them to divest from companies involved with Iran.
February 10, 2010 | By Patrick McGreevy
The 10 people who gave the most money to California political campaigns during the last decade devoted a combined $266.6 million to their pet causes and candidates, a state report said Tuesday. Leading the list was Los Angeles billionaire Steve Bing, a film producer and heir to a real estate fortune, who made $58 million in such donations, according to the report by the Fair Political Practices Commission. About $40 million of that was in support of a 2006 proposal to tax the oil industry; voters rejected the measure after petroleum companies spent about $45 million opposing it. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is now writing personal checks to help his campaign for governor, was second on the list, with $43.2 million in contributions during the 10 years that ended Dec. 31. Others on the roster: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote checks for $25.8 million, and former EBay chief Meg Whitman, who is vying to succeed Schwarzenegger in the governor's chair.
December 30, 2009 | By Marc Lifsher
A plan to fill last summer's $20-billion budget hole in part by selling a chunk of the state-run workers' compensation company is now so bollixed up in court that it's hampering Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's effort to devise new ways for reducing a similar deficit this winter. Last summer, the governor convinced state lawmakers that he could raise $1 billion by getting investors to buy some of the business of the century-old State Compensation Insurance Fund. That idea was one of a handful of creative solutions and accounting maneuvers concocted to balance the $90-billion, recession-wracked spending plan, at least on paper.
December 2, 2009 | By Marc Lifsher
California insurance companies that own stock in some multinational companies that operate in Iran soon may have to sell their holdings or face penalties. In June, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican running for governor next year, ordered 1,300 California-licensed insurers to give him information about indirect investments in Iran's nuclear, oil, defense and banking sectors. About 1,100 replied, and 200 didn't. Now, Poizner, at a news conference scheduled for this morning at Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance, is expected to detail how the insurers would be required to divest themselves of stock that he estimates is worth at least $6 billion.
September 28, 2009 | Andrew Zajac
Healthcare overhaul legislation moving through the Senate Finance Committee would put crucial rule-making authority in the hands of a private association of state insurance commissioners that consumer advocates fear is too closely tied to the industry. The National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners currently writes model laws and regulations that individual states are free to accept or discard. Under the bill by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), it would craft a model rule governing "health insurance rating, issuance and marketing requirements" that would become "the new federal minimum standard without any further congressional action."
September 25, 2009 | David S. Hilzenrath
An assembly of state insurance regulators endorsed a new system for determining how much money life insurers must hold in reserve to cover future claims, potentially giving individual companies and regulators greater flexibility. Where standard industry-wide formulas have long dictated reserve requirements, the plan endorsed this week by the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners would establish what the group calls "principles-based" reserving based largely on the risks related to individual products.
September 1, 2009 | Marc Lifsher
As California heads into another season of wildfires that have been growing more frequent and more ferocious, homeowners are facing higher prices to insure their property. In the last year, some big insurance companies have won approvals from regulators for premium hikes ranging from 4% to 7%. And a round of requests for similar increases has been submitted to the state insurance commissioner. In a state parched by a three-year drought, wildfires are at least partly to blame for the price increases, industry officials and even some consumer advocates agree.
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