Posts Tagged ‘release’

“Covered California,” California’s Marketplace for Health Care Coverage, is Open for Business Today – All the Deets

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Enjoy!

“Covered California Is Open For Business - Historic Day for Millions of Californians Who Will Have Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care Coverage at CoveredCA.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 1, 2013 — Covered California(TM), California’s marketplace for health care coverage, opened for business today, providing Californians and small businesses access to quality, affordable health care coverage from major health insurance carriers.

“As of Oct. 1, Covered California is officially open for business — our phone lines are humming, our website is live, and we stand with thousands of Californians across the state as we kick off our effort to help educate and enroll millions of currently uninsured Californians,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee.

Today’s announcement kicks off a six-month open-enrollment period and includes:

–  The formal launch of the new features of CoveredCA.com. They will enable
consumers to determine their eligibility for premium assistance and
no-cost or low-cost Medi-Cal and to shop for, compare and enroll in
coverage that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014.
–  The statewide rollout of outreach efforts and marketing that will
educate consumers about their options and how to enroll.
–  Forecasts and backgrounds of who Covered California is seeking to
enroll. It is estimated that during this initial six-month
open-enrollment period (ending March 31, 2014), Covered California will
enroll 500,000 to 700,000 Californians who are eligible for premium
assistance to make their care more affordable.
–  The opening of Covered California’s Small Business Health Options
Program (SHOP) that will allow employers to start shopping for
small-group coverage that can start in January. This program is not
subject to the six-month open-enrollment period.

Diana S. Dooley, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency and chair of the Covered California Board, applauded the launch of Covered California and said, “From Eureka to San Diego, from the Central Valley to the Central Coast, we want Californians to know we are open for business. Californians can now get quality, affordable health care by enrolling in one of the many plans offered under Covered California.” She added, “The Brown administration is proud to be a part of this historic change to make coverage affordable for all Californians.”

By the end of 2014, Covered California aims to have insured approximately 1,050,000 Californians newly enrolled in Medi-Cal and between 840,000 and 1.2 million who qualify for premium assistance to help them pay for a health insurance plan.

Toby Douglas, Director of the California Department of Health Care Services, said, “Today marks the beginning of a reform of California’s health care system, in which many of our most vulnerable and needy residents will have the opportunity to enroll in Medi-Cal. We are excited to be an important part of this historic day, and we are ready to enroll the thousands of newly eligible Californians in partnership with county offices around the state.”

Dr. Robert Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment and a Covered California Board member, pointed out that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act promises more than just affordable coverage. “When we open the doors today in California — and the doors of health care marketplaces open throughout the country — we will be moving away from the political arena and into the implementation of a new program that will literally change the lives, and the health, of millions of Americans. I’m thrilled to be part of history.”

“Here, and in every state in the nation, health care marketplaces are ushering in a new era in U.S. history, one that will provide its citizens with the health care they need, when they need it, through high-quality, affordable insurance. This is truly a historic day,” said Lee. “Health care is no longer a privilege, but a right, and is now within reach for millions of Americans.”

The official launch of Covered California started in Rancho Cordova, where the Service Center kicked off the opening day. That was followed by other events that “covered” the state: a news conference in San Francisco, overlooking the Bay Bridge; an event in the Central Valley at California State University, Fresno, to announce the open-enrollment opportunity to students; an event at a beach in San Diego; and a grand celebration at Los Angeles’ Union Station.

Dooley added, “Our goals are bold, and we won’t get there overnight. Over time, this new state of health will improve health care quality, lower costs of health care, reduce the dramatic health disparities in the state and offer choice and value to Californians. Today is the starting line. By the end of the six-month open-enrollment period, we forecast having more than 1 million Californians enrolled in health coverage with support from premium assistance or Medi-Cal.”

Lee concluded, “The drive toward making health care a right and not a privilege has been a long time in coming. The Affordable Care Act delivers on a long-unmet promise of the American dream. It has survived naysayers, Supreme Court challenges and a great deal of political pressure, but today we put all that behind us. Covered California is open for business, and our success does not depend on what happens in Washington or Sacramento. As we go forward, our success will depend on what happens in communities across California where millions of Californians have been waiting for this day to come, to call, visit CoveredCA.com, ask for help and enroll. Today is the day to ‘get covered.’”

About Covered California
Covered California is the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Covered California was charged with creating a new health insurance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to affordable health insurance plans. With coverage starting in 2014, Covered California will help individuals determine whether they are eligible for premium assistance that will be available on a sliding-scale basis to reduce insurance costs or whether they are eligible for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal. Consumers can then compare health insurance plans and choose the plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Small businesses will be able to purchase competitively priced health insurance plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans and may qualify for federal tax credits.

Covered California is an independent part of the state government whose job is to make the new market work for California’s consumers. It is overseen by a five-member board appointed by the Governor and the Legislature. For more information on Covered California, please visit www.CoveredCA.com.

SOURCE  Covered California

Covered California

CONTACT: dana.howard@covered.ca.gov(916) 205-8403

Web Site: http://www.CoveredCA.com

Sucker Watch: Most Participants Won’t Pay to Enter the 2013 Bay to Breakers Fun Run So Why Should You?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Oh, you are a sucker. Well, then be my guest – pay $48 for a number. And actually, and you’ll enjoy this, sucker, it’s already too late to get a good deal on registration for 2013. Prices be higher now.

Most people who aren’t professional runners  don’t pay and here’s a good reason not to pay:

Your money goes directly to “Christian Billionaire” Philip Anschutz.

And then he takes your $$$$$ and uses it to, over the years, oppose the concept of evolution and fund anti-gay efforts.

(It’s funny that he even took an interest in this historic fun run and street party but he likes running so there y0u go.)

The reason that organizers won’t say how many “bandits” show up for the party is because they don’t want you to think that most people don’t pay.

But, IRL, most people don’t pay.

If you don’t believe me then take a NSFW look right here.

How many bibs do you see? Every year they say they will eject all these people and every year they don’t actually do it.

Now the San Francisco Nike Womens Marathon is different. You see, they give out coveted awards and people just can’t help themselves. And then stuff like this happens; “NO BIB NO BIB NO BIB!

But B2B aint like that.

One difference this year will be a limit on the size of the bags you might carry.

It’s like the size of Fook Mi’s backpack, best I can imagine.

Click to expand

All right, have a great 2013 B2B.

And if you want to pay money to somebody, just take whatever your reg fee is and give it to Pride or whatever.

End Of Line.

PG&E’s Statement About Its Lack of Pipeline Safety is Straight from the Planet Neptune – San Bruno Incompetence

Monday, October 15th, 2012

“PG&E Statement On CPUC’s Proposed Decision On Pipeline Safety Plan

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today issued the following statement from Tom Bottorff, senior vice president of regulatory affairs, regarding the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) proposed decision on the company’s Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan (PSEP):

“PG&E is disappointed in the proposed decision by the CPUC to partially fund the critical work needed to meet the state’s new and more stringent safety standards. Now is the time to invest in a much-needed next generation of infrastructure upgrades to the state’s and PG&E’s vast network of gas transmission pipelines. Our proposed plan was designed to be as economical as possible while delivering a much higher level of public safety for decades to come. PG&E remains committed to getting this necessary work completed.”

SOURCE  Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

CONTACT: PG&E External Communication”

Now, here’s the true story.

Here are the Three Reasons Why You Were Foolish to Have Registered for the Bay to Breakers

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Three Reasons Why You Were Foolish to Have Registered for the Bay to Breakers:

1. Your money goes to Philip Anschutz, the Christian Billionaire – see below.

2. You don’t get a refund even if the Philip Anschutz people decide to cancel the race – you agreed to that in the oppressive agreement you made on the Bay to Breakers website when you signed up: “…all Race entry fees are non-refundable, even if Race is cancelled…” See after the jump for details on that.

3. Most other participants don’t pay, so why should you? Take a look right here, this is early on during the first hour of the 2012 event  - how many registrants can you spot?

Click to expand

I’ll tell you, I see just one soul with a “racing” bib. Do you think any of these people cared about getting a “racing” time that shows how long it took them to run the BtoB? Do you think any of them were arrested by the SFPD? Do you think any of them were ejected from the “race” course by “race” organizers? I don’t.

Those were just Three Reasons Why You Were Foolish to Have Registered for the Bay to Breakers.

Sucker!

Often identified as “Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz”,[26] he is a Republican donor who supported George W. Bush‘s administration. He has been an active patron of a number of religious and conservative causes:

  • Helped fund Colorado‘s 1992 Amendment 2, a ballot initiative designed to overturn local and state laws that prohibit discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation but was invalidated by Romer v. Evans after it passed.[19]
  • Contributed $70,000 in 2003 to the Discovery Institute, to specifically support the work of telecom guru George Gilder but not matters related to intelligent design. That fact was validated by Discovery President Bruce Chapman in a letter-to-the-editor to the Rocky Mounatain News, “Anschutz never gave that program a nickel,”[27]

The Discovery Institute is a think tank based in Seattle, Washington that also promotes intelligent design and criticizes evolution.[28]

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Sammy Kitwara and Mamitu Daska Win Bay to Breakers 2012, But Not As Many are Watching the Race This Year

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

There he is this morning, #21, on the right, already breaking away from the pack halfway through the Golden Gate Park Panhandle on Fell:

Click to expand

Get all the deets on the high-placing runners right here at Fog City Journal from Luke Thomas.

Now I’ll tell you, I didn’t register for the 101st running of the Bay to Breakers, so that means I haven’t signed away my right to ever in my life “attack, embarrass or disparage” San Francisco’s littlest TV news station, KRON-TV.* Therefore, I have the freedom to ask, “What the hell, KRON? You start broadcasting the race at 8:00 AM after all the winners have crossed the finish line?”

Is this the smallest BtoB in recent memory? Seems that way. The past week the Philip Anschutz people couldn’t even give away registrations. Oh well.

LinkedIn won, once again, in the Centipede category:

(The Philip Anschutz people used to call this category “Human Centipede,” with hilarious results.)

Back in the day, there were hundreds of thousands of people out there on Bay to Breakers Day, and no fences, and everything seemed to work out. But in this day, of uptight rich white NIMBYs living in the Western Addition and Hayes Valley and district elections affecting the behavior of San Francisco Supervisors, things are different. OK.

OK fine.

*It’s true. It’s in the waiver you assented to – you can’t “attack, embarrass or disparage” any Sponsor and KRON’s a Sponsor so there you go. 

Here’s This Year’s Official Bay to Breaker Press Release from the SFPD and Here’s How It’s Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Friday, May 18th, 2012

LEAVE US BEGIN:

“More than ever, City officials and race organizers are serious about keeping the race free from alcohol abuse and nuisance behavior.”

SO THIS IS THE STANDARD LINE FROM SFGOV-APPROVED MEDIA FLACK DAVID PERRY, WHO GETS PAID TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO ATTEMPT TO PROMOTE WHATEVER IT IS THAT SFGOV WANTS PROMOTED. LIKE, “THERE’S NO HALLOWEEN IN THE CASTRO, WE’RE SERIOUS.” FOR THE BAY TO BREAKERS IT’S BASICALLY, “NO ALCOHOL, WE”RE SERIOUS.” AND THEN DAVID PERRY PUTS UP A RECYCLED, HALF-ASSED WEBSITE. (ALL HIS SITES LOOK THE SAME, COMPLETE WITH THE SEAL OF SAN FRANCISCO FOR COLOR OF AUTHORITY.)

NOW, WHAT DOES DAVID PERRY BILL THE CITY FOR THIS SERVICE? $10,000? $40,000? I HAVE NO IDEA. WHAT’S IT WORTH? ABOUT ZERO, THAT’S WHAT IT’S WORTH. BUT FOR SOME REASON, THE CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO JUST LOVES GIVING MONEY TO DAVID PERRY – TO KEEP HIS BUSINESS GOING, I GUESS.

ANYWAY, HERE’S THE WEBSITE THAT DAVID PERRY GETS PAID FOR WHETHER ANYBODY LOOKS AT IT OR NOT. NOTE THAT DAVID PERRY STEALS PHOTOGRAPHS TO DECORATE HIS WEBSITES. FOR EXAMPLE, FIND THE SHOT THAT LOOKS PROFESSIONAL AND THAT’LL BE THE ONE THAT DAVID PERRY REPEATEDLY USES “COMMERCIALLY.” DO YOU HAVE A LICENSE, DAVID PERRY? NO YOU DO NOT. IS THAT HOW YOU ROLL, DAVID PERRY? YES IT IS. MOVING ON…

“Bay to Breakers has always been a blast for everyone,” said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.

A BLAST? WOW, YOU’RE THE COOLEST POLICE CHIEF EVER, GREG SUHR!

“Last year was no different, with the singular exception of no alcohol allowed. In some years past, because alcohol was allowed, there was a negative impact of our neighborhoods and we don’t want to see that repeated. That said, we hope that everyone will come and have a great time again, absent any alcohol.”

UM, ARE YOU SAYING ALCOHOL WAS OFFICIALLY “ALLOWED” AT THE BAY TO BREAKERS TWO YEARS AGO? NO IT WAS NOT. SO WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT GREG SUHR? YOU SEEM OUT OF TOUCH ON THIS ISSUE.

NOW, HERE’S WHAT THE SFPD WANTS YOU TO DO WITH YOUR ALCOHOL AT THE BAY TO BREAKERS. IT’S A DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL POLICY:

IT’S AS SIMPLE AS THAT. THE SFPD WANTS YOU TO DRINK YOUR ALCOHOL IN A NON-OBVIOUS WAY AT THE BAY TO BREAKERS. IF YOU WALK THE COURSE HOLDING A CAN OF BUD, THE SFPD MIGHT MAKE YOU POUR IT OUT, VERY POSSIBLY. BUT IF YOU TRANSFER YOUR STUFF TO ANOTHER CONTAINER AS THE SFPD WANTS YOU TO DO, THEN YOU’LL BE FINE.

THAT’S WHAT THEY MEAN WHEN THEY SAY, “NO ALCOHOL ALLOWED”

WHAT THE SFPD WANTS TO DO AT THE BAY TO BREAKERS, FUNDAMENTALLY, IS TO LOOK AT GIRLS, TALK TO GIRLS, AND OTHERWISE INTERACT WITH GIRLS:

ALL THE LIVE-LONG DAY

THUSLY:

BUT IF YOU CAUSE TROUBLE, BY GETTING IN A FIGHT OR SOMETHING, THEY’LL HAUL YOU OFF, SIMPLE AS THAT.

MOVING ON…

AH, HERE’S DAVID PERRY AGAIN, PROMOTING HIS USELESS WEBSITE. HELLO DAVID PERRY!

To emphasize the point, a special campaign website is active at www.baytobreakers100.com with public transit information, rules and regulations, video PSAs and links to social media sites stressing this year’s campaign.

WHAT WOULD THE WORLD DO WITHOUT YOUR USELESS EFFORTS?

NOW, THE CITY FAMILY IS DOING ITS BEST TO PROMOTE THE CANDIDACY OF “RUN ED RUN” PROMOTER CHRISTINA OLAGUE, WHO’S PROBABLY SAN FRANCISCO’S LEAST INTELLIGENT SUPERVISOR NOW THAT MICHELA ALIOTO-PIER IS GONE. CHRISTINA IS THE REPUBLICAN-APPROVED SAN FRANCISCO PROGRESSIVE, SO SHE’S ALLOWED TO MOUTH OFF ON HER PET ISSUES, BUT SHE CAN BE COUNTED ON TO SUPPORT REPUBLICAN-SUPPORTED MAYOR ED LEE WHEN HE WANTS HER TO SUPPORT HIM. YOU KNOW, WHEN IT COUNTS. ANYWAY, HERE SHE IS SAYING, “VOTE FOR ME, VOTE FOR ME,” IN SO MANY WORDS:

“This year, will be my first Bay to Breakers as Supervisor for District 5 and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it and share this great event with our community,” said District 5 Supervisor Christina Olague. “Coming off of the successes of last year, I am confident that this race will only continue to improve as it enters into its second century here in the Bay Area. Last year, we saw a very different Bay to Breakers than in year’s prior. The new rules implemented by race organizers clearly made a difference and the sold out race was said to be a success by city officials, neighborhoods, media, and the organizers themselves. We expect the same result of our participants this year.”

SO LAST YEAR’S RUNNING WAS A SUCCESS, OFFICIALLY? WELL THAT’S NEWS TO ME. CONSIDER LAST YEAR’S EVENT A BASELINE, IF YOU WANT. BUT LAST YEAR, IN FACT, EVERYBODY WAS DRINKING, THERE WERE HUGE HOUSE PARTIES ON FELL STREET, DPW’S STREET REOPENING SCHEDULE WAS A COMPLETE JOKE, MOST OF THE PARTICIPANTS DIDN’T REGISTER AND YADAYADAYADA. (AND I’LL NOTE THAT THIS YEAR’S RACE IS NOT A SELL-OUT, NOT EVEN CLOSE.)

ALL RIGHT, MAYBE THAT’S WHY PEOPLE DON’T TALK ABOUT THE BAY TO BREAKERS VERY MUCH ANYMORE, MAYBE PEOPLE THINK IT’S FINE THE WAY IT IS. OF COURSE TICKET SALES ARE WAY DOWN FROM LAST YEAR AND TICKET PRICES ARE UP AND THIS EVENT IS WAY SMALLER THAN IT WAS IN YEARS PAST, BUT THE CITY FAMILY IS COOL WITH THE B2B, APPARENTLY.

OK, WELL, IF OUR CITY FAMILY CAN DEAL WITH THE WAY THE BAY TO BREAKERS IS NOW, THEN SO CAN I.

ON WITH THE SHOW…

The Bay Citizen Plans Leadership Transition for 2012: Lisa Frazier to Step Down as President and CEO

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Well, you know, I’m not an “internet entrepreneur” on food stamps and Healthy San Francisco, so I lack the time necessary to natter excessively about Bay Area media hirings, firings, promotions, resignations, and whathaveyou. You know, I’m not up to speed on industry gossip the way some people are.

But here’s this:

“The Bay Citizen Plans Leadership Transition for 2012 - Lisa Frazier will step down as President and CEO in Q1 2012 but will continue to serve on the Board of Directors

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 21, 2011 — The Bay Citizen announced today that it will begin a search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Lisa Frazier, who co-founded the award-winning news organization two years ago, will step down as President and CEO in the first quarter of 2012 to pursue other opportunities. She will remain on The Bay Citizen’s Board of Directors and participate in the search for her successor.

“Through her unbelievable passion, tenacity, and tremendous operational and strategic expertise, Lisa transformed an idea to innovate and reinvent local journalism into a vibrant, award-winning online news organization,” said Warren Hellman, Chairman of the Board of The Bay Citizen. “Over almost three years, Lisa designed the business model, marshaled community support and succeeded in building a strong organization.”

Frazier has been The Bay Citizen’s President and CEO since its inception in January 2010, after leading the effort to create and develop the organization in 2009. She built The Bay Citizen from the ground up, hiring key editorial, technology and business staff, expanding the organization to 30 employees and establishing pivotal partnerships with The New York Times, KGO radio and the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She raised more than $17.5 million dollars from major donors, members, corporations and foundations that will continue to support the organization through 2014. The Bay Citizen’s growing network of individual donors tripled this year and now exceeds 6,000. Its editorial content appears online, in print and on the radio, supplementing the fast-growing audience at baycitizen.org, which now averages over 275,000 unique visitors per month.

“With its growing readership and expanding network of supporters, The Bay Citizen is in an excellent position to bring on new leadership,” Hellman said. “Lisa accomplished all that she set out to do and more as the leader of the organization. I am pleased that she will continue to serve on the Board and assist in the search for her successor.”

The Bay Citizen newsroom, now led by Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Fainaru, has won several awards, including a national Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting. Along with Chief Technology Officer Brian Kelley, Frazier developed The Bay Citizen’s industry-leading technology program, including Project Armstrong, an open-source content management and business platform funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“We are proud to partner with The Bay Citizen to provide our Bay Area readers with high quality regional news coverage,” said Scott Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager of The New York Times. “We see this as an enduring collaboration not only because of The Bay Citizen’s talented editorial team, but also because of the critical work done by Lisa and her team to build an effective model and infrastructure for our collaboration.” The Bay Citizen’s newsroom produces the articles in The Times’ Bay Area report every Friday and Sunday.

Frazier will join fellow Board members Hellman, Jeff Ubben and Susan Hirsch on the search committee for a President and CEO, support the transition process and continue to serve on The Bay Citizen’s Board of Directors.

“Close to three years ago I was surrounded by constant discussion of the death of the newspaper business in the United States,” Frazier said. “I reached a point where I felt it was time to jump in and take action. I was so fortunate to be able to tap the Bay Area community’s energy, spirit and passion for innovation to help develop a new model for sustainable local journalism. My goal was to establish a foundation upon which The Bay Citizen could sustain itself, provide great value to the Bay Area community, and lead technology innovation within the industry. I am incredibly proud of our team. They are innovators who see challenges as opportunities and I am confident they and my successor will continue the incredible progress we’ve made to date. I look forward to remaining on the Board and continuing to be a part of this talented and dedicated organization.”

ABOUT THE BAY CITIZEN:
The Bay Citizen is a nonprofit, nonpartisan member-supported news organization that provides in-depth original reporting on Bay Area issues including public policy, education, the arts and cultural affairs, health and science, the environment, and more. The Bay Citizen’s news can be found online at www.baycitizen.org as well as in print in The New York Times Bay Area report on Fridays and Sundays. For more information, please visit www.baycitizen.org.”

Oh Snap! Senator Barbara Boxer Goes After Law Schools as If They Were Cooking Schools – “Luring Students In”

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Well this is different. (Actually, it reminds me of the fuss over the California Culinary Academy.)

“Coburn, Boxer Call for Department of Education to Examine Questions of Law School Transparency - In Light of Concerns About Misleading Information, Senators Request Statistics on Six Key Metrics

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) yesterday asked the Department of Education’s Inspector General to provide information about key law school job placement, bar passage and loan debt metrics in light of serious concerns that have been raised about the accuracy and transparency of information being provided to prospective law school students.

This letter follows repeated calls from Senator Boxer to the American Bar Association to provide stronger oversight of reporting by law schools and better access to information for students.

In their letter, the Senators pointed to media reports that raise questions about whether the claims law schools use to lure prospective students are, in fact, accurate. They also cited reporting that questions whether law school tuition and fees are used for legal education or for unrelated purposes.”

Enjoy the whole thing, after the jump

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Blue Shield of California Announces Independent Review of Rates, Possible Refunds, But Then Takes It Back

Friday, January 14th, 2011

[UPDATE: Not sure why Blue Cross pulled and then re-issued this press release. Some background on the rate increases here.]

I don’t know, here’s the release that Blue Shield of California sent out this AM, which wouldn’t be all that interesting excepting for the fact that they just went and called it back, they’re saying right now they want you to disregard it.

The Blue Shield, they want a Mulligan on this one looks like, but they don’t say why so that’s bad cricket, IMO.

I can’t decide that for you. You’re going to have to choose whether you wish to avert you gaze or not. Starting…. now!

As seen at AT&T Park during that whole Icer Air ski jump thing back in ought -seven. That’s a Blue Shield, right?

Blue Shield of California Agrees to Independent Actuarial Review of Rates. Company will make refunds to policyholders if rates are unsound

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 14, 2011 — Responding to concerns raised about rising individual health insurance rates, Blue Shield of California announced today that it will voluntarily subject its rates to an independent actuarial review and make refunds to policyholders if the actuary finds that the rates are unsound. David Axene, the respected actuary who discovered errors in other California rate filings last year, will conduct the independent review of the not-for-profit health plan’s rates.

Approximately 194,000 Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company members recently received notices of rate increases that averaged 15% annually. Due to a variety of factors, some members received increases much higher than the average.

“We regret that our members have received significant rate increases in recent months and want to be absolutely certain that the rates reflect our actual cost of providing medical care,” said Blue Shield Chairman and CEO Bruce Bodaken. “To establish trust and confidence in our rate-setting process, we have taken the unprecedented step of agreeing to be bound by the conclusions of an independent third party. If this independent review finds that the rates are not sound, we will hold our members harmless by refunding the difference with interest.”

Mr. Axene is president of Axene Health Partners LLC, and has worked as a professional actuary since 1971. Last year, he conducted independent reviews of individual rate filings for the California Department of Insurance, where he found errors that, when corrected, resulted in lower rates for hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Mr. Axene will be free to confer with the Department of Insurance on his review, which he hopes to complete in 30-45 days. He will evaluate Blue Shield’s rate filing to determine if its calculations are accurate and its assumptions are sound. He will determine if the rates are “excessive, unjustified, or unfairly discriminatory,” which is the standard suggested by recently proposed federal rate review regulations. Whatever conclusions he reaches, his report will be made available to the public.

Despite Blue Shield’s recent rate increases, the company expects to lose $10-20 million on its individual health plan business in 2010 and another $20-30 million in 2011. Blue Shield’s total costs for hospitals, physicians and prescription drugs have risen by an average of 15% annually for each of the past three years.

“Our premiums are rising because of the rapid increase in healthcare expenses for our members,” said Bodaken. “Reducing medical costs must be an urgent national priority for health coverage to be affordable for the vast majority of Americans.”

About Blue Shield of California

Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members, 4,800 employees, and one of the largest provider networks in California. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California offers a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. The company has contributed more than $125 million over the past four years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation–which was named one of BusinessWeek’s 20 most generous corporate foundations. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield website at www.blueshieldca.com.

Will a Recent State Judge Ruling Affect San Francisco’s Feral Cat Neutering System?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

San Francisco’s method of handling feral cats might be affected by a recent ruling down in L.A., where Judge Thomas McKnew just suspended the entire county’s Trap-Neuter-Return program. So people can still bring in feral kitties for sterilization at various clinics but the county can’t subsidize or promote any such program now.

Do we have a similar TNR program in San Francisco? Oh yes. If you call the SPCA about a feral cat in your backyard, they’ll help you trap it, they’ll perform the operation and then they’ll release the kitty right back in your backyard.

Judge McKnew didn’t like that fact that there was no CEQA Environmental Impact Report done and then he read up on county reports stating that TNR was ineffectual. I don’t think San Francisco supports TNR the way Los Angeles did, but certainly it works with the SF SPCA on some issues, anyway.

This feral cat in Golden Gate Park has a notched right ear – a sure sign that it’s been through a TNR program – that’s how they mark “graduates.”

This feral kitty from the West End of GGP has yet to be trapped:

Learn more about this issue from the Chinatown Pet News Examiner (yes, the Chinatown Pet News Examiner!) and then bone up on San Francisco’s Feral Fix Program here, and below.

So, Will a Recent State Judge Ruling Affect San Francisco’s Feral Cat Neutering System? I don’t know. Just asking.

Anyway, the system in place now is about as convenient as it could be:

“Free Feral Fix Program (http://www.sfspca.org/veterinary-services/feral-fix)

In most cities, there is no care available for feral cats. But since 1993, The SF/SPCA has teamed up with feral cat caregivers to control, monitor, feed and provide veterinary care to feral cat populations — and even help adopt some into loving homes.

We provide spay/neuter procedures for San Francisco’s feral cats for free on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — no appointment necessary.

Read the Adoption Pact between The SF/SPCA and ACC.

The new Leanne Roberts Center dramatically increases our capacity to care for and treat feral cats. See the tips below for how you can help.

How Our Feral Fix Program Works
We accept trapped cats Monday, Wednesday and Friday (excluding major holidays).
Drop off time is between 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
Bring a trapped cat to the Leanne Roberts Center Feral Cat Department Entrance at 220 Florida Street. Be sure to cover the trap with a towel or sheet.
No need to park your car! We offer a curbside drop-off service. Simply pull up between 7:30 – 8 a.m., and a staff person will assist you.
You will be offered the option of purchasing a Feline Leukemia Test ($27.50) and/or a one-time treatment of Revolution ($8) or Advantage ($7) for fleas. If interested, please be prepared to pay by credit card or check.
Same-Day Feral Cat Pick-Up Information
Feral cats must be picked up the same day between 4:30 – 5:00 p.m.
We offer curbside pick-up at the Feral Cat Department Entrance, 220 Florida St.
Recovery Information
A recently altered feral cat must remain indoors for recovery for two to three days.
If the cat is semi-social, you can use a garage space or bathroom.
For cats that cannot be handled, plan on keeping the cat in the trap. Ask us for advice on cage cleaning and feeding during the recovery period.
If you want to rent a trap from The SF/SPCA, contact us at 415.522.3539.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a feral cat?
A: An unsocialized “community cat” that cannot be safely handled and must be trapped to be transported.

Q: How young can a feral cat be to be spayed/neutered?
A: Feral kittens can be altered at 2 months of age and/or 2 pounds.

Q: What if I have found a feral mother cat and kittens?
A: If possible, trap the mother and kittens and provide in-home care and daily socialization of the kittens until they are eight weeks of age. At that time, the kittens can be surrendered to The SF/SPCA for adoption. The mother cat will be spayed at no charge and returned to you for release.”