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In San Francisco, a rush for health care

March 20, 2010
A San Francisco clinic that serves the poor was flooded with new patients when the city created its Healthy San Francisco program. Now the doctor who runs the clinic is preaching prevention for those patients. Third in a series on universal health care in San Francisco. By HealthyCal contributor Richard C. Paddock.

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The health premium squeeze

March 17, 2010
A smaller percentage of Californians had private health insurance in 2008 compared to 2000, and those who did have still have coverage were paying a lot more for it, according to a new study from the University of Minnesota. The average family with employer sponsored coverage was paying $1,500 more, even after adjusting for inflation, in 2008 than they were in 2000, while the state's median income remained flat.

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UCLA: nearly 2 million Californians lost coverage during recession

March 16, 2010
Nearly two million Californians have lost their health insurance during the recession, according to new research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, bringing to more than 8 million the number of Californians who were without coverage for all or part of 2009. That's about one-quarter of the state's nonelderly population.

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Survey data undercut Anthem’s argument for rate increase

March 15, 2010
Anthem Blue Cross has claimed that one reason behind its big proposed rate increase is the bad economy, which, the company says, is leading healthy people to give up their coverage while the sick remain in the insurance pool. That would mean there are fewer people to spread the risk, forcing those who remain to pay more for their coverage. But an analysis by Jonathan Kolstad and Neeraj Sood at Health Affairs suggests that there has been no change in the health status of people who buy insurance on their own.

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Senator proposes mandate for anti-tobacco drugs, classes

March 12, 2010
Sen. Leland Yee, the Democrat from San Francisco, has introduced legislation to require health plans and health insurers to provide tobacco cessation counseling and medication to their customers with little or no cost-sharing.

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The Blue Cross business model

March 11, 2010
Anthem Blue Cross has been under scrutiny for its recent rate hikes. But that scrutiny should go beyond the rate hikes to their overall business practices—and the broken health system that rewards bad behavior. The company has perfected a business model based on collecting premiums from the healthy and avoiding as much as possible actually providing coverage to those who are sick.

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Assembly panel presses health regulators for answers

March 10, 2010
A bipartisan majority on an Assembly committee that oversees the state bureaucracy is turning up the heat on California's insurance and health plan regulators to explain what they've done to help people who have been kicked off their insurance coverage after filing claims. The members of the Assembly committee on Accountability and Administrative Review also want the departments to do more to make sure that a recent drop in the number of coverage rescissions is not temporary.

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State response to coverage rescissions to get critical look

March 7, 2010
A settlement reached between the Los Angeles city attorney and Health Net over the company's recission of coverage for some of its customers appears to be better for consumers than similar deals reached by the state with five companies, including Health Net. An Assembly committee will compare the responses at a special committee hearing Wednesday.

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Oh, Canada. Are they beating us on health care too?

February 28, 2010
The U.S. wants to be like Canada in hockey some day. Should we also follow them toward single-payer, universal health care? Democrats in the Legislature say yes, and they think the Golden State should lead the way, despite defeats at the polls and in the governor's office. My New York Times column this week looks at Sen. Mark Leno's effort to carry the torch passed to him after Sheila Kuehl, the state's longtime champion of the idea, was forced from office by term limits.

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Care for 1 million kids at risk

February 26, 2010
The California Budget Project has just released a county-by-county analysis showing the regional impact on children's health care from the proposals in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget. Statewide the cuts would eliminate coverage for more than 1 million kids while forfeiting $1 billion in federal funds now coming to the state.

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