Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Must Read: Sierra Snowpack Is Just 52% of Normal; Obamacare to Lower Healthcare Rates for Poor, Raise them for Middle Class and Wealthy

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Sierra snowpack is just 52 percent of normal after much of the state experienced the driest first three months of any year on record, the SacBee$ and other media outlets report. But thanks to a very wet November and December, many of the state’s major reservoirs are at normal levels. The reservoirs, however, are expected to be depleted this summer, and so the state is urging people to conserve water this year.

2. Obamacare is expected to dramatically decrease the cost of healthcare plans for low-income consumers, plummeting by as much as 84 percent, the LA Times$ and other media outlets report. However, costs for middle-class and wealthy residents who do not have healthcare coverage through their employer are expected to go up substantially because insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions. Low-income residents also will receive public subsidies under Obamacare.

3. Caltrans is investigating an Ohio company and its subcontractors in an effort to find out why 32 giant steel rods snapped on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, the Chron$ reports. Caltrans is also attempting to jury-rig a fix for the bridge because it’s too late to replace the broken rods. Workers have already installed the bridge’s new roadbed and so there is no room to put in replacement rods.

4. A state audit, meanwhile, strongly criticized Caltrans for its failure to properly manage workers who falsified safety-test results on bridges and freeway structures, the SacBee$ reports.

5. An appellate court threw out a lawsuit filed by a Bay Area prosecutor who was wrongly detained and arrested because of actions by Bank of America employees, the Chron$ reports. In addition, the court ordered the prosecutor, who is African-American and a lesbian, to pay $50,000 to BofA to cover the bank’s legal costs even though the woman had done nothing wrong. Bank employees had accused her of theft and called police when she attempted to cash a check from her domestic partner.

6. And the construction firm that is repairing the fire-damaged Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley says the iconic eatery may reopen in June, the Trib reports.

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