The new marketplace for California health insurance, spawned by the federal health care reforms, got under way as health exchange officials rolled out 13 statewide and regional plans. An estimated 5 million people may be covered.
From HealthyCal's Dan Weintraub: "The choices include two statewide plans — Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross — plus Kaiser Permanente, which will be available everywhere except the central coast counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito. Ten other regional plans will also offer services, with anywhere from two to six plans available in every part of the state. In an interesting twist, several local plans that until now have served only Medi-Cal patients will now offer their coverage to the general public.
"The rates will differ depending on a person’s age, where they live, the level of coverage they choose and whether they are eligible for subsidies. But Covered California officials said the premiums will range from 2 percent more to 29 percent less than comparable plans available today to small employers."
"Compared to today’s market, younger, healthier people will generally pay more (before considering the federal subsidies offered) while older and sicker people will pay relatively less. But it is difficult to compare the Exchange’s plans to the current system because the new plans will be more comprehensive and available to everyone."
Gov. Brown's environmental credentials are raising questions, such as his loudly pushing for curbs on greenhouse gases at the same time he takes $500 million from the state fund that is intended to do just that.
From the Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman: "Some environmentalists, however, say Brown's actions don't match his rhetoric -- particularly his recent decision to divert $500 million in cap-and-trade fee revenues away from clean-energy and pollution-abatement projects to help California balance its books."
"The governor is right on the rhetoric, but he needs to put our money where his mouth is," said Bill Magavern, the Coalition for Clean Air's policy director. "That's money that needs to be investedin our communities to reduce pollution and create jobs."
"Brown visited Sustainable Silicon Valley's fourth annual Water, Energy and Smart Technology (WEST) Summit at NASA Ames Research Center to showcase a "call to action" signed by more than 500 scientists from 44 nations. The 20-page report addresses five key problem areas: climate disruption; the extinction of species; transformation and loss of ecosystems; pollution; and population growth and consumption."
There's a big hole in the "Wall of Debt" that Gov Brown talks about -- some $10 billion that the state owes to the feds for borrowing money to pay jobless benefits.
From the Bee's Dan Walters: "At one point, Brown did suggest that payroll taxes on employers be boosted to pay the principal and several hundred million dollars a year in interest on the debt, but that went nowhere. So the state has been borrowing money from the Disability Insurance Fund, collected from employees, to pay the interest."
"Meanwhile, the feds want their money back, so they have been incrementally increasing employers' payroll taxes to recapture the money. The extra payroll levies are nearly $600 million this year, are projected to grow to $2.6 billion a year by 2019 and will remain in force until the debt is repaid."
"Employers, especially small employers, are beginning to grate at the new tax bills, seeing them as another impediment to adding more workers to their payrolls, especially in combination with new health costs under the Affordable Care Act."
The governor's old stomping grounds, the city of Oakland where he once served as mayor, got smacked by the state in connection with the sale of property during the abolishment of redevelopment agencies.
From the Chronicle's Matthai Kuruvila: "On Thursday, Oakland officials announced that the state had rejected eight of those property sales, including the $28.3 million sale of the shuttered and dilapidated Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center."
"The state Department of Finance’s decision means that Oakland officials will have to refund $32.5 million, which will go to a variety of city and county agencies. City officials said that amount had already been set aside as a precaution. Roughly $10 million of that money will come back to Oakland because of the way redevelopment money is re-distributed."
“Due to prudent financial planning, the state’s findings will have no impact on the city’s finances,” City Administrator Deanna Santana said in a statement. She said the payment would be made “under protest,” allowing the city to challenge the decision in court."
From the LAT's Patrick McGreevy: "State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said it was frustrating that only about 19% of eligible voters in Los Angeles turned out to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for a new mayor, as well as other city posts."
"His answer: Hold Los Angeles elections for citywide offices at the same time as the presidential election, when voter turnout is much greater."
"The last presidential election saw about 54% of Los Angeles-area voters show up at the polls."
And from our "Mad Men" file comes the latest in advertising -- or "beard-vertising."
"Attention lumberjacks and hipsters: it's time to put that beard to work. A Kentucky-based advertising agency is offering $5 per day to men willing to wear an ad in their beards."
"Ad agency Cornett-IMS designed their "beard-vertising" campaign for A&W Root Beer and says it is designed to help those with the gift of facial hair capitalize on natural talents."
"We'll let you decide if this is genius or insane, but apparently there is at least some cheeky interest. "We’re getting a ton of emails from guys with epic beards that want to host beardboards and we’re actually in talks with some brands that want to be Beardvertisers. I think we’ll probably be seeing some beardboards in the wild before too long,” the ad agency Cornett-IMS’s Whit Hiler relayed to Foodbeast.com."
Time for a shave ...