Many Californians with nonconforming health plans won’t be affected by the federal government’s Obamacare extension.
Tracy Seipel reports for the Mercury News: “The Obama administration's announcement Wednesday that allows a two-year extension for individual health insurance policies that don't conform to the health care law applies nationwide -- but only to states that agree to the plan, according to a spokeswoman with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”
“In California, even if the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approve the extension by changing current law, most of the 1.1 million Californians whose nonconforming plans were canceled last year wouldn't likely benefit, a state Insurance Department official said Thursday.”
More than a hundred thousand L.A. County medical facilities’ patients had their personal data stolen.
Abby Sewell reports for the Los Angeles Times: “A Torrance office of Sutherland Healthcare Solutions, which handles billing and collections for the county's Department of Health Services and Department of Public Health, was burglarized Feb. 5 and computer equipment was stolen, according to a county statement issued Thursday.”
“The computers contained data including patients' first and last names, Social Security numbers and certain medical and billing information, and they may also have included birth dates, addresses and diagnoses.”
An education task force is focusing on how to transform the California’s special education system.
Jane Meredith Adams reports for Ed Source: “In an interview after the meeting Parker, who also served as an assistant superintendent of public instruction in the state, added: “Our kids aren’t disabled, our system is.”
“Parker and many of the 25 parents, teachers and advocates who attended the forum on a rainy afternoon in Redwood City strongly urged the task force to press forward with its work of re-envisioning how the state educates nearly 700,000 children in special education. Those students make up about 10 percent of all public education students and have a wide range of disabilities, including dyslexia, speech impairment and autism.”
Although proposed by the governor and state lawmakers, California’s nonpartisan analyst doubts the need to fund new aircraft for highway patrol officers.
Justin Pritchard reports for the Associated Press: “Currently, 19 of the CHP's 30 aircraft have flown more than 10,000 hours — when maintenance becomes costly and some aircraft risk being unsafe, according to Brown's budget spokesman, HD Palmer. He called the replacement plan a "safety-driven request."
“The CHP has said it wants to downsize to 26 aircraft, and lawmakers approved $17 million in the current budget to start the process by buying three helicopters and one plane. None has yet been acquired.”
Lawmakers proposed changes to state political ethics laws.
Patrick McGreevy reports for the Los Angeles Times: “Trying to counter ethics scandals in which lawmakers stand accused of voter fraud, bribery, money laundering and other misdeeds, Democratic leaders Thursday proposed sweeping changes to state political laws aimed at restoring public confidence in the Legislature.”
“The proposals, which Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to embrace, would ban lawmakers and other state officials from accepting such gifts as spa treatments, golf games and tickets to Lakers games.”
California’s public employee pension agency never fulfilled plans to cut a former Vernon official’s pension—the top in the state.
Jeff Gottlieb reports for the Los Angeles Times: “The highest-paid pensioner in California's largest retirement system continues to receive more than $500,000 annually, even though officials promised almost two years ago his retirement pay would be dramatically cut.”
“After an angry state senator confronted them Thursday, pension officials said they would cut the payments to former Vernon administrator Bruce Malkenhorst to almost $116,000 a year starting in April.”
San Jose’s mayor is approaching budget spending with caution, despite its booming economy.
Mike Rosenberg reports for the Contra Costa Times: “Although the Silicon Valley economy is surging and the city still has many of the cuts from the Great Recession in place, San Jose is staring at an essentially flat overall financial situation this year with similar budgets forecast through the next half-decade.”
“Reed said that's mainly because retirement costs for city workers in the last decade have more than quadrupled to $300 million in the coming year, eating up an increasingly large chunk of the city's $1 billion general-fund. Much of the savings from pension cuts voters approved in 2012 won't be seen for years as new hires come aboard with less expensive retirement plans.”
The cost to pay for state worker retirees’ healthcare plans is more than lawmakers budgeted for.
Chris Megerian reports for the Los Angeles Times: “The cost of providing healthcare to retired state workers is $64.6 billion more than state leaders have set aside to pay, an increase of $730 million from the previous year.”
The Education Coalition is urging lawmakers to spend significantly more money on education.
Dan Walter Sacramento Bee: “Steve Henderson of the California School Employees Association, representing the Ed Coalition, told the committee that its aim, implied in Proposition 98, is to raise spending to the per pupil average of the nation's 10 highest-spending states on education.”
“No number was mentioned, but Census Bureau data indicate that reaching that goal for six million K-12 students would cost about $36 billion more a year.”
Attention coffee addicts: UC Davis could soon have a major for you.
Edward Ortiz reports for the Sacramento Bee: “UC Davis has made a name for itself researching beverages people use to relax – like wine and beer. Now it’s turning its attention to one Americans use to get wired: coffee.”
“On March 11, a roster of eight UC Davis scientists will come together for a research conference run by the school’s recently founded Coffee Center. At the conference, the scientists and coffee industry stakeholders will gather to plumb such diverse topics as the genetics of coffee and the sensory perception of coffee drinkers.”