Jun 20, 2012

As the public awaits the U.S. Supreme Court's decision next week on federal health care reform, a surprising fact is clear: Even if the Act is upheld, millions of Californians will be without health-insurance coverage even after the federal reforms fully kick in beginning in 2014.


From Genevieve Bookwalter in HealthyCal: "Up to 10 percent of California’s 40 million residents will not have health insurance after national health care reform begins in 2014, according to new numbers released from University of California, Berkeley last week."


"Those numbers, health officials say, run contrary to the popular belief that nearly everyone will be covered by insurance in two years. That’s when the Affordable Care Act, passed into federal law in 2010, takes full effect. As a result, doctors and clinics that traditionally provide care to the uninsured are working to make sure the money to treat those patients does not disappear."


"The fear, said Peter Long, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation, is that funding from states and nonprofits who now help pay for uninsured patients will dry up in 2014. When the Affordable Care Act is fully in place, nine out of 10 California residents younger than 65 should be covered, according to the UC Berkeley study. Without the act, about 84 percent of those patients would be covered."


The on-again, off-again effort by California Democrats to authorize same-day voter registration is on again. The idea -- 10 other states already do it -- is to encourage more people to become involved in the political process and vote, an uphill struggle if the June 5 primary is any indication.


From Timm Herdt in the Ventura County Star: "On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide."


"The measure — AB 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles — has been approved by the Assembly and next heads to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which must consider the bill because it would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud."


"Feuer said the key difference from previous attempts is the timing. His bill would not take effect until Jan. 1 of the year after a database called Vote-Cal, now being developed, becomes operational. Such a database, required by the federal government of every state, would incorporate the voter rolls of all 58 counties in the state and be linked with data from other government agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security Administration."


Meanwhile, Jerry Brown outlines his vision for California and the practical realities of grappling with a miserable fiscal condition. 


From Marc Cooper in Pacific Standard Magazine: "Not even California Governor Jerry Brown’s most virulent critics dare any longer to call him a dreamy Moonbeam. Now 74 years old and almost halfway through a historic third term, the most likely epithet to be hurled his way is that of an ultra-pragmatic Grinch."


"After a 27-year hiatus from his first stint as governor and after serving as mayor of Oakland and state attorney general, Brown has returned to the statehouse with a laser-sharp focus: cut, cut, and cut some more..."


"The top 1 percent in the state increased its share of the income from 10 to 22 percent," Brown said. "The bottom 80 percent of the state is declining. That’s just a fairness fact. The surveys indicate very clearly that no other tax [other than the one I propose] is going to pass. The alternative is not some broader-based tax, it’s doubling up on the cuts. People don’t want that either. The voters say they do want this tax, by a majority so why not give them a chance to vote on it? Yeah, I’d rather have a broader tax, there should be ways to have a more rational tax, but that is not viable. It’s not going to pass the Legislature, it’s not going to pass by initiative. It’s a non-starter. So the only choice is even more cuts or the tax I’m proposing, or one very close to it."


Law enforcement lobbyists and their allies have blocked a lawmaker's attempt to regulate license-plate scanners, the latest example -- if any were needed -- that in the Capitol, money talks.


From G.W. Shulz at California Watch: "Under pressure from law enforcement lobbyists and private industry, a California lawmaker has abandoned his effort to restrict how personal information on the whereabouts of drivers generated from high-tech license-plate scanners can be collected and stored in a database."


"State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, proposed the bill [PDF] in March after California Watch reported that a private company had stockpiled more than a half-billion records on drivers from the license-plate readers."


"The scanner is affixed to the outside of patrol cars and captures the geographic location of motorists along with the date and time, regardless of whether the individual is a wanted criminal, a fact that alarms privacy groups. The Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco said it was disappointed by the bill's fate."


And from our "Flaming Fuzz" file comes the tale of the Reno newspaper photographer who got arrested and thrown to the ground because he was wearing protective gear while covering a  fire. That's what we said.


"A 60-year-old Reno Gazette-Journal photojournalist was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and suffered minor injuries Monday after sheriff’s deputies alleged he obstructed and resisted them while trying to take photographs of a destructive fire in Sun Valley."


"About 5:42 p.m. Monday, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office deputies cited Tim Dunn for obstruction and resisting."


"Dunn, the newspaper’s photo director and a 21-year employee there, was taking photos of a fire that broke out near Flora Way and East Fourth Avenue. The fire ultimately destroyed two homes and multiple structures."





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