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December 16, 2011 | By Noam L. Levey, Washington Bureau
Seeking to defuse a potential showdown over a key part of the new healthcare law, the Obama administration moved Friday to let states, rather than the federal government, define which medical benefits insurance companies will have to offer consumers starting in 2014. That allows state leaders to retain more control of health insurance even as the law extends a new federal guarantee that all Americans can get coverage, even if they are sick. "This is significantly more state-flexible and friendly than many would have expected," said Alan Weil, head of the National Academy for State Heath Policy.
November 30, 2011 | By Dalina Castellanos, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
Nearly 300 protesters were arrested early Wednesday morning as the Los Angeles Police Department cleared the 2½-month-old tent city surrounding City Hall. Clearly, the protesters wanted to continue to Occupy L.A. But leaving the encampment will probably turn out to be good for their health, experts say. As these activists and their compatriots around the country have weathered heat, rain and snow as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement, germs have had a prime opportunity to occupy their immune systems.
November 15, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
For the second time in eight months, California health insurer Anthem Blue Cross is being sued over allegations that it has breached contracts with individual policyholders for hiking annual insurance deductibles in the middle of the year. The latest lawsuit, filed Monday by the group Consumer Watchdog, says that California's largest for-profit health insurance company used "bait and switch" tactics to raise deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for some customers May 1. Anthem, the consumer group contends, violated state law by misrepresenting the cost of its coverage for more than 100,000 customers.
November 3, 2011 | By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
The trade group for California's hospitals has sued state and federal officials to block a 10% cut in government reimbursements for some healthcare providers who treat low-income patients. The California Hospital Assn. said in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, that cuts to the Medi-Cal insurance program will threaten the ability of many hospitals to continue operating skilled nursing facilities. As a result patients, particularly those in rural communities and other medically underserved areas, are likely to face delays or gaps in healthcare services, the lawsuit contends.
September 8, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
A federal appeals court in Virginia rejected two challenges to President Obama's healthcare law, saying the legal dispute over whether the government can require Americans to buy medical insurance should be put off for three years until the first taxpayers are hit with a penalty. The decision injects a new element into a brewing election-year court showdown over Obama's signature accomplishment. Though the Supreme Court is poised to take up the issue early next year, the Virginia-based court decided that federal law forbids judges from ruling on tax challenges until a tax penalty has been levied.
August 5, 2011 | By Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times
A 65-year-old doctor was convicted Thursday of performing unnecessary and dangerous surgeries on more than 160 people in a $154-million medical insurance scam that lured patients by promising them cash or low-cost cosmetic surgeries. Dr. Michael Chan of Cerritos, one of 19 defendants accused of fraudulently billing medical insurance companies, pleaded guilty in Orange County Superior Court to 40 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and insurance fraud. He faces up to 28 years in state prison.
June 26, 2011 | By Jen Leo, Special to the Los Angeles Times
The U.S. State Department is reaching out to travelers with an iPhone app. Name: Smart Traveler Available for: iPhone What it does: Provides the latest travel warnings and travel alerts for countries, listed A to Z, plus information you need to know before you go, such as entry and exit requirements, safety and security, embassy locations, medical insurance, children's issues and more. You can also forward the information to friends by email. Cost: Free What's hot: The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows you to enter details about your upcoming trip so that the State Department can assist you in an emergency.
June 8, 2011 | Steve Lopez
In early September of 2001, an 8-year-old Albanian boy arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, newly blind and traveling alone in search of medical help. He spoke no English, didn't know a soul in California and was trembling when flight attendants led him off the plane. On Monday night, almost 10 years later, the same boy walked shaggy-haired across a stage at his high school graduation at the Pilgrim School west of downtown Los Angeles, smiling as he was cheered. But let's go back to the beginning.
May 28, 2011 | By Noam N. Levey, Washington Bureau
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has renounced it. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he doesn't believe in it anymore. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has brushed off suggestions he even considered it. As the three have discovered, there is hardly a bigger black mark against a Republican presidential candidate today than the hint of past support for requiring Americans to get health insurance — as President Obama's new healthcare law...
May 2, 2011 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
Auto and homeowner insurance premiums have been regulated by the state of California for two decades. Maybe it's time that healthcare premiums are too. Insurance companies inadvertently have been making that case against themselves recently by announcing staggering double-digit rate increases, then backing off in the face of government scrutiny and public outrage. Aetna Inc. and Anthem Blue Cross scaled back planned premium hikes, and Blue Shield of California canceled one altogether after new state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones denounced the increases as excessive.
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