Covered California caps specialty drug costs

May 22, 2015

The board of Covered California, the state’s health care exchange, voted to cap costs for high priced drug treatments – the first exchange in the nation to do so.  From Hudson Sangree at the Sacramento Bee:


“The four board members unanimously agreed to impose $250 monthly limits on out-of-pocket prescription costs for most patients, creating a precedent that other government health exchanges could follow.


“’I think Covered California’s going to set the model for the rest of the country now,’ said Liz Helms, chief executive officer of the California Chronic Care Coalition, a patient advocacy group that lobbied for Thursday’s rule changes.


“Helms said a number of health insurers participated in negotiating the caps and were agreeable in the end.


“’Today I said, “Thank you” to them, which is not something I normally do,’ she said.”


Regulators have delayed a decision on whether to accept Delta farmers’ offer of a voluntary 25% water-use cutback until next week.  Ellen Knickmeyer and Scott Smith:


“State officials initially said they would also announce the first cuts of the four-year drought to senior rights holders on Friday. Water regulators said Thursday, however, that the announcement involving farmers and others in the watershed of the San Joaquin River would be delayed until at least next week.”


Responding to nationwide reports of police excesses, the legislature is considering a crop of bills to increase police accountability.  Alex Emslie, KQED:


“California state legislators… are pushing dozens of bills aimed at enhancing law enforcement accountability.


“The California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union is following and advocating for many of them.


“’The national attention on police conduct and police abuses has absolutely led to a large number of bills on this issue this year,’ says Natasha Minsker, director of the recently expanded ACLU’s Sacramento-based Center for Advocacy and Policy. ‘What’s yet to be seen, and what we hope for, is that it actually leads to real reforms being enacted.’”


The UC Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to endorse UC President Janet Napolitano’s deal with Jerry Brown limiting tuition increases for in-state students, but expressed concerns about admissions and funding.  Josh Richman, San Jose Mercury News:


“But as the board met at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus, worries abounded that qualified Californians are being shut out of slots at the university for lack of adequate funding. Napolitano said this was the one area where she and Brown couldn't reach an accord.


"’We agreed, however, that we would let the Legislature consider that question and the relevant funding that would need to be appropriated for additional in-state residents,’ she said, adding that she has asked legislative leaders for more funding to add as many as 9,530 more in-state students over four years -- mostly undergraduates, many of whom would be transfer students.”


Some good news for California arts- the May Revise added $5 million to the California Arts Council’s budget.


It didn’t take long for Democratic Party activists to begin whacking freshly-minted Senator Steve Glazer after his defeat of party-backed candidate Susan Bonilla.  He will undoubtedly face party opposition when he is up for reelection in 2016, but the question now is, what will he face inside the building now Matthew Artz, San Jose Mercury News.


“The question for Glazer, a political strategist who ran Gov. Jerry Brown's 2010 gubernatorial campaign, isn't just who will run against him next year but whether state Senate Democratic leaders will make life hard for him after he won office without party brass support.


"’The interesting challenge for Glazer will be how he is treated by his colleagues,’ said Jim Ross, a Democratic political strategist. ‘Will he get decent committee assignments? Will his bills move forward?’"


For those keeping track, a Federal judge has granted a third postponement to the start of former Senator Ron Calderon’s trial for corruption.  Latest date: March 1, 2016.


If the culmination of the SD-7 race was the most-talked about political story of the week, a close runner up is the lurid tale of the anti-vaxxer movement’s fatwa against lobbyist Jodi Hicks.  In Yhe Bee, Shawn Hubler decries the tactics and tenor of the campaign against Hicks – and rightfully so, we might add.


While Hicks and her husband, political data guru Paul Mitchell, have surely had better weeks, Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla was the clear winner in our Worst Week sweepstakes.


Coming up on the bottom side of a bruising, bitter special election campaign, Bonilla barely mustered the goodwill to congratulate her opponent (by tweet) the day after the election.


Dan Walters agrees with Tony Quinn: this race was a shellacking for labor, and Bonilla was right in the middle of it.


To add insult to injury, Bonilla did something we weren’t sure was possible: she actually had a worse week than Loretta Sanchez, who launched her campaign for U.S. Senate by mocking Native Americans - on camera - and then running away from a news reporter trying to ask her about it - again, on camera.  Ouch.

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