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.
In a survey, nearly 70% of employers said they plan to keep offering health coverage to workers, a 23% increase from 2012. A separate study finds that higher premiums for job-based health coverage led to a decline in U.S. workers with such plans. The Hill's "Healthwatch" et al.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey finds that the Affordable Care Act's effect on employee coverage costs and hiring trends has overtaken general uncertainty about the U.S. economy as small businesses' top concern. The Hill's "On the Money," Washington Times' "Inside Politics."
Federal officials are delaying by one year an Affordable Care Act provision aimed at providing multiple health plan options to small businesses. Officials say more time is needed to prepare for the Small Business Health Options Program. AP/Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal.
Gov. Brown has appointed Deborah Harper as deputy secretary of administrative services at the state Department of Veterans Affairs and has named Lavanza Butler to the state Board of Pharmacy. Meanwhile, B. Joseph Guglielmo has been named dean of the UC-San Francisco School of Pharmacy.
An Orange County Register editorial argues that the Affordable Care Act will "burden" California farmers by requiring them to offer health insurance for their workers. According to the editorial, farmer advocates say the business owners likely will "drop health insurance" and instead pay a cheaper penalty for not offering coverage. However, the editorial argues, this result "would create higher costs for taxpayers and poorer outcomes for ill or injured workers." Orange County Register.