CDC has selected 104 employers in eight counties across the U.S. to voluntarily participate in a national workplace health initiative funded by the Affordable Care Act. The National Healthy Worksite Program aims to help small and mid-sized companies implement workplace wellness programs that use science-based disease prevention and wellness strategies to boost overall workplace health. Kern County was among the counties selected to take part in the initiative. Imperial Valley News.
Last week, Northern California optical workers at Kaiser Permanente voted 214 to 103 to reject an offer of representation by the Service Employees International Union. The workers in 2010 voted to leave SEIU and join the National Union of Healthcare Workers-California Nurses Association. Sacramento Business Journal.
Leon Panetta, who previously served on Blue Shield of California's board of directors from 2000 to 2009, has returned as a board member. Anthony Manzanetti has stepped down as chief counsel and deputy director of the California Department of Managed Health Care.
Observers say proposed federal home care rules that would require overtime pay for certain caregivers could disrupt California's In-Home Supportive Services Program by raising costs and prompting restrictions on workers' hours. Los Angeles Times.
Business executives and lawmakers are concerned about a proposed rule that allows employers to award workers as much as 30% of their health coverage costs for participating in wellness programs, an increase from the current 20%. The Hill's "RegWatch," CQ HealthBeat.
At a UC Regents meeting on Wednesday, 13 health care workers were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly during a sit-down protest where they threatened to strike at the system's medical centers. AFSCME 3299 -- the union that represents about 13,000 patient-care technical workers -- last week voted to authorize the two-day strike for May 21 and 22. However, UC is seeking a court injunction to block the planned strike, arguing that it would harm patients. Los Angeles Times.
In an Orange County Register opinion piece, Bill Dombrowski -- president of the California Retailers Association -- write that a bill in the state Legislature that would "require larger businesses to pay the state a fine for each employee who is enrolled in the state's Medi-Cal program" does "nothing to reduce rising health care costs." According to Dombrowski, all that the bill does "is assess fines on businesses that are already struggling to meet the [Affordable Care Act's] requirements while recovering from the devastating effects of the recession." Orange County Register.
The California Autism Foundation has named John Rockefeller as CEO. Karen Ruiz, who previously led an overhaul of CalPERS' computer system, has been named program director for the system that will handle eligibility, enrollment and retention for Covered California.
German drugmaker Bayer has announced plans to acquire California-based Conceptus -- which manufactures Essure, a permanent birth control method -- for about $1.1 billion, or $31 per share. Finalization of the deal is subject to U.S. antitrust approval and expected by mid-2013. AP/Fresno Bee.
A survey finds that the proportion of state employers offering health insurance declined signficantly from 2002 to 2012. It also finds that health insurance costs have increased by nearly 170% since 2002. Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert," California HealthCare Foundation release.
San Francisco-based hospital operator Dignity Health has agreed to sell its laboratory outreach business to Quest Diagnostics. Dignity's laboratory volumes and the terms of the transaction were not immediately available. Payers & Providers.
During a hearing yesterday, Sen. Max Baucus said that HHS has failed to provide the public and small businesses with adequate information about the Affordable Care Act, which could lead to a "train wreck" during the law's implementation. New York Times' "The Caucus" et al.
During oral arguments in a gene patent case on Monday, several U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled that they were skeptical of the argument that human genes should be patented like a scientific invention but wary of issuing a broad decision on the issue. Some of the justices seemed to favor a plan that would revoke patents for isolated genes but maintain patent protection for manipulated genes or for particular uses of genes. A decision is expected in June. New York Times et al.
A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study released last week found that 53% of Californians had employer-sponsored health insurance in 2011, down from 62% of state residents in 2000. During the same period, the percentage of private-sector companies in the state offering health benefits declined from 57% to 52%. Meanwhile, annual family coverage premiums increased by 146% over the same time period. Los Angeles Times' "Money & Co."
A new bill in the Assembly would fine large employers that do not pay their workers enough to keep them off Medi-Cal. Funds raised from the penalty would go toward boosting Medi-Cal reimbursements and subsidizing state costs for the program. Sacramento Bee.