"State authorities, in an unprecedented move, have opened the door to reinstate insurance coverage for thousands of patients whose medical coverage was summarily canceled by health care insurers," Capitol Weekly reports
"This is a milestone day," said Cindy Ehnes
, the director of the Department of Managed Health Care, the Schwarzenegger administration's regulator of California's HMOs.
"Ehnes announced that medical coverage had been reinstated in 26 cancellations that had been illegally ordered earlier by health insurers. Those cases were part of scores of cancellations by the major health insurers that Ehnes said were suspect. Blue Cross alone illegally canceled coverage in 90 cases, she noted, resulting in a $1 million fine.
Ehnes said her office would review cancellations between 2004 and 2008. "Every single rescission will be reviewed by this department," Ehnes said, adding that patients would be compensated for their costs in the event the rescission was flawed. "For the first time, we are giving people a second chance to get that health coverage," she said.
"I'm really grateful to the director and proud of her department for taking such a strong position. It is totally appropriate," said Sen. Sheila Kuehl
, D-Santa Monica, the chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee."Also Thursday, a spokesman for state attorney general Jerry Brown said the Department of Justice was broadly investigating the rescission issue. Brown's staff has already met with consumer groups, and is planning to meet with leaders in the health insurance industry in the coming weeks to discuss their cancellation and rescission policies. The spokesman said the attorney general was not pursuing criminal charges against the plans, or their leaders
can start packing her bags -- she'll take over the Assembly's top job May 13
"The news ends uncertainty that began after she was named speaker-elect nearly two months ago and said she would work with incumbent Speaker Fabian Nunez
to transition into the job.
"Bass, D-Los Angeles, will be thrust immediately into what are expected to be bitter budget talks over a remaining deficit estimated to be at least $8 billion.
"'Frankly, we're facing such a huge deficit that I'm not sure it mattered whether I took over now, a month ago, or two months from now,' Bass said Thursday.
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to release his revised budget proposal in mid-May, essentially launching a partisan war.
"Bass said the May 13 date was mutually agreed upon by her and Nunez, D-Los Angeles.
"'I wanted it to be before budget negotiations were really hot and heavy,' said Bass, 54, the first African American woman to lead a California legislative house."
Apparently unhappy with George Skelton's positive review
yesterday of Fabian Nunez's leadership, Dan Walters criticizes Nunez
for granting of a golden handshake to senior Assembly employees and allowing the distribution of infrastructure bonds based on politics rather than need.
Meanwhile, welcome $4 gas to the city by the bay
"Sometime in the coming week, San Francisco is expected to become America's first major city to pay an average of $4 for a gallon of regular gas. The citywide average, tracked by the AAA auto club, stood at $3.96 on Thursday," report David Baker and Michael Cabanatuan in the Chron.
"It's the latest milestone in a four-year run-up at the pump, fueled by crude oil prices that have climbed to their highest levels ever."
"Averting a heavyweight political fight, a prominent Senate Democrat has dropped legislation that would have legalized electronic bingo for charities and nonprofit organizations
," writes the U-T's Jim Sweeney.
"Just days ago, state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, the incoming leader of the Senate, said he planned to push ahead with his legislation despite broad opposition from the state's powerful gaming tribes.
"Yesterday, Steinberg reconsidered after concluding that a favorable lower court ruling protects bingo machines that generate more than $100,000 a year for a local charity, WIND Youth Services, that asked him to carry the bill.
"'The WIND folks came to us awhile ago and said they felt the preliminary court order was fine for them,' said Jim Evans
, a Steinberg spokesman. 'But we needed to see that. After seeing it, we feel they're going to be able to do what they have been doing under the law.'
"The bill, SB 1626, would have legalized electronic bingo cards, like those used in some versions of bingo machines. The measure was scheduled for its first committee hearing Tuesday."
"State lawmakers on Thursday said California needs better long-term supervision of sex offenders
after an audit raised concerns that some may be living in homes used for child day care and foster care," reports the AP.
"The audit found that the addresses of 49 registered sex offenders matched those of 46 child care facilities throughout the state.
"The state Department of Social Services has suspended licenses for nine of the homes. Officials said there is no immediate indication that any children were abused.
"Nevertheless, the report angered the lawmakers who requested the audit, Assembly members Anthony Adams
, R-Monrovia, and Fiona Ma
, D-San Francisco.
"'My biggest concern right now is the number of sex offenders that are in child care facilities,' Ma said during a Capitol news conference. 'Parents who go to work, drop off their kids in the morning, pick them up, should not have to worry about the safety of their children.'"
"A statewide commission reported Thursday that many California counties have cut their spending for impoverished criminal defendants by providing them lawyers whose representation fails to meet constitutional standards
," writes Karen de Sa in the Merc News.
"Counties are increasingly hiring legal firms that offer cut-rate representation by failing to spend money on investigators or experts that are needed for adequate defense, said the report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, created to examine ways to guard against wrongful convictions.
"'This is like a cancer within the system of providing indigent defense, and it's spreading,' said Gerald Uelmen
, executive director of the so-called Fair Commission, calling the spread of low-bid, flat-fee private firms "a race to the bottom."
"The commission's report focuses on criminal cases, where the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that impoverished defendants are entitled under the Constitution to effective representation of attorneys in the preparation as well as trial phase of the case."
"A Russian electrician slept off a night's drinking with a long knife stuck in his back
and didn't notice until his wife spotted it in the kitchen the next day, Russia's Komsomolskaya Pravda paper reported on Thursday,"
, 53, was rushed to hospital in the northern city of Vologda, but the 15-centimetre (six-inch) knife had not damaged any vital organs.
"His wife saw the handle of the knife sticking out as her husband bent down to get some breakfast from the fridge, the newspaper reported.
"Although Lyalin played down the injury, local prosecutors are not treating the incident as a joke and are initiating a case against Lyalin's drinking partner. He could face eight years in jail, the paper reported."