The top PPOs in the state -- the preferred provider organizations in this era of
managed health care -- got low marks in a customer-care survey by the Department of Insurance, reports Duke Helfand of the Los Angeles Times.
"In the quality report card, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue
Shield of California, Health Net Inc.,
UnitedHealthcare and Cigna Corp.received the
lowest possible ratings — poor — for customer service. Aetna Inc. earned a slightly better rating of fair."
"Most of those insurers also garnered marks of fair
the ease and speed with which members see doctors and
get medical care.
UnitedHealthcare earned a grade of good.
No insurer received the top overall rating: excellent."
Meanwhile, the cost of borrowing is going up, as the state of California just found out, reports
Kathleen Pender in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"California had to pay
higher-than-expected interest rates to complete its sale of $10 billion in
revenue anticipation notes Thursday."
"The state sold $2.25 billion in notes maturing May 25 at
a yield of 1.5 percent, up from a tentative yield of 1.25 percent quoted to individual
investors who placed orders Monday through Wednesday.
It sold $7.75 billion
worth of notes maturing June 28 at a yield of 1.75 percent, compared with a
preliminary yield of 1.5 percent. The higher yield will increase the interest cost to
state by $14 million to a total of $172 million."
Speaking of state money, Californians want it all -- they don't want to raise taxes but they don't want
to make cuts. The LAT's Cathleen Decker has the story.
"Californians object to increasing taxes in order to
pare the state's massive budget deficit, and instead
favor closing the breach through spending cuts. But
they oppose cuts—and even prefer more spending—on programs that make up 85% of the state's general fund obligations, a new Los
Angeles Times/USC Poll has found.
That paradox rests on Californians' firm belief that
the state's deficit—estimated last week at nearly $25 billion over the next 18 months—can be squared through trimming waste and inefficiencies
rather than cutting the programs they hold dear. Despite
tens of billions that have been cut from the state
budget in recent years, just a quarter of California
voters believed that state services would have to be
curtailed to close the deficit."
And still more in the world of money: A Stanford University research group says local pensions systems are $200 billion in the red.
From Dan Walters in the Bee: "The Stanford University research team that shocked Sacramento this year by declaring that the state's three pension
systems are more than $400 billion underfunded has struck again, saying local
government pension systems are nearly $200 billion short."
"The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
team, headed by former Democratic Assemblyman Joe Nation, applied the same standard to the local funds as it
did to the state's three large systems - a risk-free "discount rate" of about 4 percent on future pension fund earnings."
The first members of the long-awaited independent redistricting panel were selected at random by State Elaine Howle, reports the Bee's Jim Sanders.
"Eight inaugural members of California's first-ever redistricting commission were chosen in a lottery-type drawing to perform a task that lies at the heart
of political power – setting legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization
"It's one step toward making Californians believe in
their government more than they do now," Trudy Schafer, of the League of Women Voters of California, said of having residents rather than lawmakers draw
And finally, we turn to our "Big Bird" file to find the story of the guy who jammed a turkey
into his trousers. Really.
"At an appearance yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court,
Deon Williams, caught on tape this month using a 12-pound Boars Head turkey breast as a codpiece, turned
down a plea deal of six months in jail."
"I didn't do it," Williams told The Post. "OK, I stole
a cold-cut sandwich because I was hungry, but I put everything
[else] back." Williams allegedly pulled the birdbrained stunt at
a Fine Fare supermarket in Bedford-Stuyvesant."
"The butcher chased him out of the store and demanded
that Williams return the bird."
Where's the cranberry sauce?...