Last week, San Francisco's Health Service System voted 4-2 to approve Kaiser Permanente's proposed health premium rate hike of more than 5% for city workers in 2014 and immediately "begin negotiations for 2015." The board told Kaiser officials that more detailed financial accounting would be necessary. An analysis released by San Francisco last month found that the insurance company took in $87 million more from city workers and their dependents between 2010 and 2012 than it cost to serve them. Los Angeles Times.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is urging Covered California to bar Anthem Blue Cross from the health exchange's small business market because the insurer imposed several "excessive and unreasonable" rate hikes. Los Angeles Times et al.
A new study finds that U.S. workers visited their physicians and pharmacies less after their employers moved them into a high-deductible health plan. The study's authors say beneficiaries might forgo preventive treatment because they are confused about the plan's coverage. Modern Physician.
In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week, two GOP lawmakers expressed concern that workers hired for the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange navigators program might have access to "sensitive taxpayer information." Reps. Kevin Brady and Charles Boustany asked Sebelius to provide information about the types of personal data to which navigators would have access. Modern Healthcare.
On Saturday, 1,500 job seekers in the Fresno area took written exams as part of the hiring process for the Covered California state insurance exchange call center. Saturday's applicants, as well as 1,300 people who took the exam in April, are vying for 500 jobs at the call center. Fresno Bee.
Dignity Health will lay off 148 lab workers at 18 lab sites in the Sacramento area, effective June 24. The layoffs -- which are part of more than 400 at Dignity Health facilities statewide -- come after Quest Diagnostics announced a definitive agreement to acquire Dignity Health's lab-related clinical outreach service operations. Sacramento Bee.
On Monday, the National Labor Relations Board certified the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West's recent election victory over the National Union of Healthcare Workers to represent 45,000 nursing aides and other employees at Kaiser Permanente. Sacramento Bee.
On Tuesday, the state health insurance exchange board approved a model contract for health plans. However, the board put off approval of the health plan performance section until its May 23 meeting, when the board also will announce a tentative lineup of health plans participating in Covered California. After rate negotiations, final approval of the plans will be announced July 1. Sacramento Business Journal.
CalPERS has launched an initiative to discontinue health care benefits for individuals mistakenly or fraudulently receiving coverage. A CalPERS official says original estimates that the effort would save about $40 million annually might prove to be conservative. Sacramento Bee.
Acting on a recommendation from the UC Student Health Insurance Program Advisory Board, all 10 UC campuses will abolish lifetime coverage limits and other restrictions on essential health benefits in students' health insurance plans. The change will take effect in the 2013-2014 academic year. Sacramento Business Journal.
Although Illinois officials predicted that 16 health insurers would sell plans on the state's health insurance exchange, only six insurers have signed up. Experts are concerned that insurers' lack of interest in Illinois' exchange could signal a wider trend. AP/Sacramento Bee.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has called UnitedHealth Group's nearly 8% rate hike for small businesses "unreasonable." UnitedHealth says the increase "is among the lowest" requested by a California health plan. Los Angeles Times, DOI release.
Public relations firm Weber Shandwick has won a contract to promote the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. CMS says states with federal or partnership exchanges can apply for grants to fund their exchange marketing efforts. The Hill's "Healthwatch," CQ HealthBeat.
On Wednesday, a federal appeals court heard arguments over whether a new state law prohibiting sexual orientation conversion treatment for minors violates the free speech rights of counselors who support the practice. The law is on hold pending a court ruling, which is expected in a few months. Several other states are considering implementing similar laws. San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now."
House Republicans have sent a letter asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for more details on the role that navigators will play in state health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act and how grants for the navigators will be funded. The Hill's "RegWatch," CQ HealthBeat.