Health & Medicine

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Must Reads: California’s Obamacare Exchange Deluged with Enrollees; Oakland Schools Go Solar

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Californians are scrambling to sign up for Obamacare through the state’s insurance exchange as the December 23 deadline for getting coverage next year is approaching fast, the LA Times$ reports. The state’s insurance exchange is being swamped with enrollees. On Wednesday, the exchange tallied 17,000 calls in less than an hour. And an expected surge in applicants in the next two weeks could overwhelm the state’s system.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Gap Between Rich and Poor Widens in Cities; East Bay Employment Remains Stagnant

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The gap between rich and poor continues to widen nationwide, especially in US cities as urban areas are becoming increasingly segregated along economic lines, Reuters reports (via Rough & Tumble), citing a new study co-authored by UC Berkeley researchers. Severe economic segregation also is making it much more difficult for low-income residents to climb the financial ladder. For instance, it now takes a typical low-income family living in an urban area four generations “before reaching half the nation's mean income.”

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: GOP’s Fake Obamacare Website Stirs Outrage; County Supes Skeptical of Coliseum City

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A fake Obamacare website created by California Republicans at taxpayer expense is sparking outrage among liberal groups, SF Gate reports. The site, put together by GOP Assemblymembers and paid for with public funds, uses a similar web address to Covered California — the state’s Obamacare exchange — in an obvious attempt to mislead people and discourage them from signing up for Obamacare. The fake site focuses exclusively on the perceived drawbacks of the Affordable Care Act.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Must Reads: Obamacare Signups Surge; Supreme Court Okays Online Sales Taxes

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Signups for Obamacare on the federal exchange surged last month to 100,000, four times higher than in October — even as federal contractors scrambled to make fixes to the error-prone federal website, Bloomberg reports. Signups are expected to increase rapidly this month after the administration commissioned repairs to the online site. States that have their own websites, including California, have reported far higher numbers of signups than the federal exchange.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Must Reads: California Kills Cheap Insurance Policies; Unions Say BART Board Vote Was Illegal

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Covered California — the state’s version of Obamacare — has denied the president’s request to allow people to keep health-care policies that are to be canceled this year, the Chron reports. The five-member board of Covered California noted that allowing about 1 million residents to keep inexpensive plans that fail to meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act could seriously damage the new health-care system, because it would keep too many young, healthy people out of the Obamacare pool. The success of Obamacare is predicated on the need to have as many young, healthy people sign up as possible in order to finance the costs of treating seriously ill patients. But the president requested that states extend the deadline for ending cheap insurance plans after it became clear that his promise that people would be able to keep their insurance under his plan was untrue.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Must Reads: Unions Say BART Is Overstating Costs of Family Leave; Growth of Oakland Charter Schools Damages School District

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. BART unions say the transit agency is overestimating the costs of a disputed family medical leave benefit by perhaps tens of millions of dollars, the Chron reports. The BART board directors has effectively rejected a tentative deal its management team reached with the unions because of the six-week paid family leave benefit — a move that could prompt another strike. BART officials estimate that the benefit, which they contend they agreed to by mistake, will cost the agency up to $44.2 million over the life of the four-year contract. But the unions say that the estimate is deeply flawed, and say they have no intention of renegotiating the deal.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: President Announces Fixes to Obamacare; Number of Mentally Ill Homeless Surges in East Bay

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. President Obama announced changes to the Affordable Care Act today that would allow insurance companies to continue selling health-care policies that previously were to be canceled, the Washington Post$ reports. The president’s announcement was intended to address a controversy that erupted when millions of Americans began receiving notices in recent weeks that their insurance policy was going to be canceled because it didn’t meet the coverage requirements under Obamacare. The cancellation notices sparked a firestorm of criticism because the president had promised repeatedly that people could keep their insurance policy if they liked it. Under the changes announced today, insurance companies can continue selling existing plans for the next year. The president cautioned, however, that some insurance companies might choose not to sell the old plans.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Common Household Products May Be Linked to Kids' Behavior Problems

by Lindsey Konkel of Environmental Health News
Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 7:05 AM

Insecticides commonly used in households may be associated with behavior problems in children, according to a new study. Conducted by researchers in Quebec, the study is one of the first to investigate potential human health effects of pyrethroids, which are used in more than 3,500 commercial products, including flea bombs and roach sprays.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Must Reads: BART May Slash Operating Hours for Safety Reasons; FDA to Ban Trans Fats

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. BART official told state legislators that the agency may have to cut back on its operating hours because of new safety protocols following the death of two workers during last month’s strike, the CoCo Times reports. BART officials also came under heavy fire from lawmakers for failing to improve safety conditions earlier, despite a previous death. Legislators noted that BART has a history of fighting state safety requirements rather than quickly implementing them.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Must Reads: State Official Failed to Help Distressed Nursing Home Residents; Oakland Dispatchers Overwhelmed with Non-Emergency Calls

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. At least one state official visited a distressed nursing home in Castro Valley last week but failed to help residents who had been abandoned by staff, the Chron reports. Two untrained workers who were the sole people taking care of elderly residents of the nursing home said they saw state officials come and go last week and did nothing to help. One 65-year-old resident is now missing. A spokesman with the California Department of Social Services' Community Care Licensing Division admitted to the Chron that at least one state official had visited the home during last week’s chaos and the agency was now “looking into” what happened.

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