Confused Guv Brown Supports Choo Choo Train and Delta Smelt/Cuts Reimbursement for the Disabled

The phrase is, “Your actions are so loud I cannot hear a word you say.” While the Governor is promoting a $200 billion train to nowhere for nobody but unions a crony capitalists, begging to spend $67 billion on a tunnel to move water from north to south—but no NEW water, he is continuing cuts to assistance to the disabled.

Brown is taking money from the disabled in order to “save” the salmon and delta smelt. His actions, not his words tell us what his priorities are for the budget and the people of the State. For a compassionate Democrats, his concerns seem to run toward personal agenda instead of citizens in need. Shame on us for allowing this.

“Developmentally disabled Californians may still have a case against the state for cutting home- and community-based care, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
Arc of California and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego have spent the last three years challenging three money-saving cuts to services.
In addition to a 3 percent reduction in services that the state Legislature enacted in 2009, the challengers have also sought to cancel a 14-day annual service blackout and a “half-day billing rule.”
300px-JerryBrownByPhilKonstantin

 

 

Cuts to California Home Care Still Face Challenge

By TIM HULL, Courthouse News, 6/30/14

   

(CN) – Developmentally disabled Californians may still have a case against the state for cutting home- and community-based care, the 9th Circuit ruled Monday.
Arc of California and the United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Diego have spent the last three years challenging three money-saving cuts to services.
In addition to a 3 percent reduction in services that the state Legislature enacted in 2009, the challengers have also sought to cancel a 14-day annual service blackout and a “half-day billing rule.”
The case stalled for a year after the state won a stay pending a Supreme Court decision on whether Medicaid providers and recipients have standing under the supremacy clause.
U.S. District Judge Morrison England in Sacramento eventually refused to issue a preliminary injunction, simultaneously dismissing Arc’s claims under the Medicaid Act. He reasoned that the cuts were legal because the state’s waivers had been approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
By the time the 9th Circuit took up the issue last year, the 3 percent cut in services had expired.
A three-judge appeals panel on Monday found that portion of the case moot, but revived Arc’s claims as to the cuts that have not expired.
The lower court misread the Medicaid Act when it gave the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services so much deference, the court found. That move also ignored the fact that California “did nothing whatever to study the likely effects of its uniform holiday schedule or half-day billing rule on the ‘efficiency, economy, and quality of care’ or the availability of service providers, before enacting and implementing those rules,” Judge Marsha Berzon wrote for the court.
“We conclude that California’s total abdication of its obligations under Section 30(A) indicates that Arc is likely to prevail on the merits of its challenges under the Medicaid Act to the uniform holiday schedule and half-day billing rule,” Berzon added. “The District Court abused its discretion in determining otherwise, and so in assessing Arc’s likelihood of success on the merits.”
Finding that “impact” of the two remaining service cuts “was not the focus of the preliminary injunction proceeding,” the court declined to rule on that issue.
The appellate panel remanded the case to Sacramento.

Survey: San Diego, California Worst for Small Business

What recovery? California as a State and San Diego as a city are the worst State and City for small business in the nation. Could it be the high taxes, AB 32, the Democrat ownership of Sacramento and the unions’ ownership of the Democrat Party? Maybe the $25.3 billion we spend on illegal aliens each year or AB 32 that is killing jobs and making the cost of doing business too high to make a profit?

When will the families, business owners and voters start fighting to take the State back from unions, ideologues and special interests? Until then, the trek on the 10 Freeway to Texas will continue.

The survey found that California received low marks for its business, environmental regulations, and for its tax code, licensing, and zoning laws. California, however, received a favorable mark for the ease of hiring new workers.

The study also found that some of the most important issues for business owners were business-friendly licensing regulations and the ease of filing taxes.”

california illinois greece hope

 

Survey: San Diego, California Worst for Small Business

Posted by Alexander Nguyen, Times of San Diego, 6/30/14

San Diego and California received an F for small business friendliness in the latest poll by Thumbtack.com, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

San Diego routinely wins praise as a location for high-tech startups, but a new survey gives San Diego — and California in general — failing grades for friendliness to small businesses.

According to a national survey of 12,000 small business owners by Thumbtack, a San Francisco-based online hiring service, California fell from its D grading in 2013 to an F in the 2014 survey.

Out of the 82 cities rated for business friendliness, San Diego came in at No. 78. Six other cities in California — San Jose (68), Santa Rosa (70), Riverside (71), Los Angeles (74), Oxnard (76) and Sacramento (82) — were also ranked as some of the least business friendly cities.

“After a two-month survey of thousands of small business owners nationwide, California’s small businesses have rated it near the bottom as one of the least friendly states in the nation towards small business,” Thumbtack’s chief economist Jon Lieber said in a statement. “Creating a business climate that is welcoming to small, dynamic businesses is more important than ever, and California continues to receive low marks from its small businesses for creating this kind of environment.”

The survey found that California received low marks for its business, environmental regulations, and for its tax code, licensing, and zoning laws. California, however, received a favorable mark for the ease of hiring new workers.

The study also found that some of the most important issues for business owners were business-friendly licensing regulations and the ease of filing taxes.

Taxes, however, were not a major concern for most small business owners with about two-thirds saying they were taxed fairly — neither too nor too low. About 52 percent of California’s small businesses said they paid the right share of taxes, in line with the national average

“Thousands of small business owners across the country told us that the keys to a pro-growth environment are ease of compliance with tax and regulatory systems and helpful training programs,” Leiber said.

Business owners who were aware of incentive programs offered by their local governments were more likely to rank their government as being business friendly, the survey found.

Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana were the top rated states for business friendliness. Among the lowest rated were Rhode Island, Illinois, California, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The study was done in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

 

Left Upset: California Communities Opposed Being Invaded by Obama Import Illegal Aliens

Over the past few weeks, the Obama Administration has totally opened the borders, let foreign citizens know that the U.S. government will provide them with free welfare, health care, education and not stop them from going into the shadows of American society. When Obama gave amnesty to 36,000 convicted illegal aliens, he told the cartels and terrorists nothing will be held against them to cause deportation.

Now the Left, the supporters of open borders and the creation of another Third World nation, the United States, attack those that believe in the Rule of Law. The same government that lied about spying on American citizens, that ObamaCare allowed you to keep your doctor and plan, that used the IRS to harass citizens now says the imported illegal aliens are disease free. Anybody believe anything from the Obama Administration?

“”These children are screened by staff for the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Meade. “They’re not moving kids who are carrying infectious diseases around the United States. It’s absurd. HHS and the CDC will tell you they have no credible reports from any of the shelters or detention facilities that there’s any widespread infection or infectious diseases.”

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., cited disease potential as one of his objections to the Escondido facility. His office did not respond to an interview request for this story.

ObamaLooksUp2

 

Not All California Communities Welcome Refugee Children

Tommy Hough/Chris Thomas, Public News Service, 6/30/14

SAN DIEGO – Southern California is seeing some of the wave of unaccompanied children coming to the United States from Central America to escape violence in their home countries – and not everyone is welcoming them.

The federal government signed a contract to house about 95 children at a former nursing home in Escondido, in San Diego County. Everard Meade, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, said at a recent city planning commission meeting most in attendance opposed the lease.

“When people heard it was these unaccompanied immigrant kids who were going to be in this facility, it really became a public meeting about how people feel about these unaccompanied immigrant kids,” said Meade, “and even more than that, how people feel about immigration policy.”

Some at the meeting voiced concerns about the children’s potential for delinquency or violence, although they’d be living in a guarded facility. Meade said he thinks that’s a case of blaming the victim. He noted the children are being forced to leave their home countries to escape those problems – and that many have a parent already living and working in the United States.

Meade also said people at the Escondido meeting echoed Tea Party concerns about the potential threat of disease being spread by the children. He called the charge “ridiculous” and “unfounded.”

“These children are screened by staff for the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Meade. “They’re not moving kids who are carrying infectious diseases around the United States. It’s absurd. HHS and the CDC will tell you they have no credible reports from any of the shelters or detention facilities that there’s any widespread infection or infectious diseases.”

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., cited disease potential as one of his objections to the Escondido facility. His office did not respond to an interview request for this story.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement has locations across the nation, including two others in the San Diego area for unaccompanied minors, in El Cajon and Lemon Grove. Neither location has had any reports of trouble.

 

 

San Bernardino Surrenders: The bankrupt city gives in to California’s public pension giant. Now what?

Though San Bernardino is now in bankruptcy, it is assuring itself of another financial crisis in a few years. The major cause of the current problem is its inability to pay for its union negotiated pension system. Instead of reforming the system, fighting the massive payments in court, the city decided to make the problem. Worse. For one year they will not have to pay anything—that is good. After that they have to pay all the money CalPRS demands, PLUS penalties and interest. If they cannot pay the current bill how will they pay that bill?

The city was given a gag order, so they cannot answer citizen’s questions about the impending collapse of the City after it is out of bankruptcy—if it can get out, ever. Imagine a government ordered by a court to NOT tell the public the truth about financial decisions. Castro is alive and well in California courts.

“Leaving pensions untouched will have consequences both foreseeable and unintended. Recent news reports, for example, suggest that Stockton and Vallejo are already facing new financial problems because their pension debt remains out of control. For nominally solvent cities, state courts have consistently upheld the “California Rule,” which holds that once a city council grants a pension increase—even one based on absurdly optimistic or dishonest promises—the full pension must be paid. It cannot be altered, even on a go-forward basis. That leaves very few options for San Bernardino and other cities that are sprinting toward “service insolvency”—when a city can pay its employees but doesn’t have much left over to provide services.”

unions pensions public employee

 

 

San Bernardino Surrenders

The bankrupt city gives in to California’s public pension giant. Now what?

Steve Greenhut, City Journal, 6/27/14

California’s taxpayers should have been rooting for the bankrupt city of San Bernardino as it wrestled with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) over the repayment of $13.5 million in debt, plus interest. Unfortunately, San Bernardino last week surrendered as the two sides announced the outline of a deal. Though the details have yet to be released—they’re subject to a court-imposed gag order—it appears that the city will leave its pension plan untouched. That doesn’t bode well for municipal financial solvency in the Golden State.

In 2012, San Bernardino, an inland Southern California city located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. It was merely the latest in a string of California municipalities to succumb to insolvency in recent years. The San Francisco Bay Area city of Vallejo filed for bankruptcy in 2008, emerging in 2011. Stockton, in the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, remains the largest California city to enter bankruptcy so far, preceding San Bernardino into Chapter 9 by a few months. That city’s plan awaits final approval from the court after a contentious legal battle with bondholders.

San Bernardino tried something different. City officials decided to stop payments to CalPERS, arguing in effect that the nation’s largest pension fund should be treated like any other creditor. Neither Vallejo nor Stockton officials wanted to fight CalPERS, which commands vast legal resources. Both cities devised bankruptcy plans that slashed public services, raised taxes, and left pensions untouched. CalPERS responded with a lawsuit challenging San Bernardino’s bankruptcy filing, claiming the city didn’t need to go bankrupt even as CalPERS supported bankruptcy in Vallejo and Stockton. Last year, tired of fighting, San Bernardino agreed to resume payments to CalPERS, but claimed it could not afford to make the back payments from its year-long hiatus.

Now the city has reached a deal to begin making the back payments. As Ed Mendel of the website Calpensions explained, “San Bernardino has not publicly proposed a pension cut. A sketchy plan for operating in bankruptcy only proposed a ‘fresh start’ that would ‘reamortize CalPERS liability over 30 years,’ perhaps cutting costs $1.3 million in the first year.” After a federal judge ruled that Detroit may abrogate its pensions in bankruptcy (because federal bankruptcy law trumps state law), CalPERS argued in an amicus brief that “Congress did not envision that Chapter 9 would become a haven for municipalities that seek to ignore and break state laws and constitutional provisions in order to adjust their debts.” In other words, nothing—not even bankruptcy—absolves cities or their taxpaying residents of these promises.

Leaving pensions untouched will have consequences both foreseeable and unintended. Recent news reports, for example, suggest that Stockton and Vallejo are already facing new financial problems because their pension debt remains out of control. For nominally solvent cities, state courts have consistently upheld the “California Rule,” which holds that once a city council grants a pension increase—even one based on absurdly optimistic or dishonest promises—the full pension must be paid. It cannot be altered, even on a go-forward basis. That leaves very few options for San Bernardino and other cities that are sprinting toward “service insolvency”—when a city can pay its employees but doesn’t have much left over to provide services.

Some California cities, such as San Jose, argued that their charters allow for reducing pensions going forward. San Jose’s voters in 2012 overwhelmingly approved reforms that would have let the city offer employees a lower-benefit plan. But a court voided that part of the initiative. Meantime, CalPERS has been significantly raising its contribution rates on municipalities that participate in its plan—thus leading to further cutbacks and problems. As Mendel notes, “CalPERS lowered the earnings forecast for terminated plans from 4.82 percent a year to 2.98 percent, sharply increasing the debt that must be paid if employers leave the system.” When taxpayers are on the hook for the pension payments, CalPERS optimistically predicts a 7.5 percent rate of return. When its own money is at stake, the pension fund assumes a much lower rate.

In the wake of last week’s tentative deal with CalPERS, San Bernardino now is trying to tackle outlandish pay contracts with its police and firefighters’ unions. The firefighters have been particularly stubborn. The city “said that to exit bankruptcy it must terminate a union contract that pays an average annual salary of $190,000 to each of its top 40 firefighters,” Bloomberg reports. The next tiers of firefighters earn in pay alone an average of $166,000 and $130,000. And people wonder why these union-controlled California cities are going bankrupt? Yet it’s not clear that San Bernardino can end these contracts. The firefighters’ union claims that these salary scales are untouchable because the city’s charter mandates that public-safety workers’ compensation align with such compensation in similarly sized cities, even though most of those cities have broader tax bases and higher average incomes than working-class San Bernardino.

So everyone is protected with special legal limitations—except for taxpayers. And no Democrat in the state capitol is talking about ways to keep these cities from acting as a gravy train for public “servants” who are paid far above market wages. Spunky San Bernardino at least tried to take on its biggest problem. Apparently, it failed. That leaves few options for other California cities facing similar crises in the years ahead.

Insurance Companies/Covered California Purposely Lie to Public About Available Doctors for “Plans”

Is Covered California and its cabal with insurance companies corrupt and criminal? Absolutely. Both knew the doctors listed as part of the insurance networks were NOT participants. Many had told the companies they wanted no part of this flawed operation. They told Covered California they work for the patients, not the State and wanted to stay away from another government program. Still Covered California allowed insurance companies to lie to the public as to which doctors they can use.

If this was an honest government, the insurance companies would be forced to end all contracts with customers, forced to return the ill-gotten payments and profits. Those responsible for these lies would be criminally charged—and Covered California management fired for allowing this fraud. In every aspect ObamaCare is a disaster, to finances, health care and ethics. When will the voters get angry enough to defeat the statist Democrats?

“At one plan in Butte County, more than 95 percent of the doctors listed in the printed directory were either unavailable to new patients or could not be reached. Even in the most accurate directory, from a plan in Fresno County, reporters were able to confirm that a doctor would see a new patient at only six out of every ten offices listed.”

Healthcare costs

Directories of Doctors Who Treat the Poor Are Inaccurate, Hurting Access

Theresa Rivera, who lives in Shasta County and holds her youngest daughter in this family photo, has had trouble finding a doctor for her four oldest children through Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health program.

By Hannah Guzik, HealthyCal, 6/29/14

Claudia Boyd-Barrett and Angela Woodall contributed to this report.

Directories of doctors given to low-income patients across California are highly inaccurate, making it difficult for them to get the health care they’re entitled to under state law, the California Health Report has found.

More than half of the primary-care doctors in provider directories given to low-income patients in three counties in Northern, Central and Southern California are not accepting new patients with Medi-Cal, the state’s low-income health plan, or could not be reached by telephone.

At one plan in Butte County, more than 95 percent of the doctors listed in the printed directory were either unavailable to new patients or could not be reached. Even in the most accurate directory, from a plan in Fresno County, reporters were able to confirm that a doctor would see a new patient at only six out of every ten offices listed.

How we did this story

Beginning in April, the California Health Report called all primary-care providers listed in Medi-Cal directories for Butte, Fresno and Imperial counties and asked their offices if they were accepting new Medi-Cal patients. Reporters called doctors listed in the directories that were available as PDFs on all but one insurer’s website. These directories are the same ones that are given to Medi-Cal enrollees in printed form.

Reporters also called doctors found via provider search engines on the plans’ websites, searching for those “accepting new patients” when that criteria was available. In both the web indexes and PDF directories, doctors were frequently listed multiple times, under different office numbers and locations. Reporters called every number listed.

In all, reporters made more than 1,000 phone calls to doctor’s offices in Butte, Fresno and Imperial counties.

Reporters also called 175 doctors listed in other directories across California to get a statewide sample. Ten health plans, in 10 counties, were selected as a sample, and reporters called the first 20 primary-care providers found on those plans’ websites, again searching for those identified as accepting new patients. The counties surveyed were Alameda, Del Norte, Inyo, Los Angeles, Modoc, Monterey, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties. In Del Norte and Modoc counties, both small, rural areas, there were fewer than 20 primary-care providers listed.

Reporters were left on hold when calling six of the more than 1,175 offices, and after multiple attempts to reach those providers, they gave up after being left on hold for 10 minutes or more.

Some of the doctors listed in the directories have moved out of the area, retired or are otherwise no longer practicing. Others who are erroneously listed have decided to stop accepting Medi-Cal, while some said they never accepted the insurance. Some of the phone numbers listed have been disconnected, are for the wrong office or are actually fax numbers. Many of the receptionists who answered the phone said they had never heard of the doctor who was listed as practicing at their office.

The accuracy of the physician directories is important for two reasons. First, consumers searching for a doctor need to be able to find one, a task already difficult because so few doctors accept Medi-Cal patients. If the directories are filled with the names of physicians who don’t accept Medi-Cal, finding a doctor is even more challenging, and could even force patients to delay or go without care.

Second, the state requires insurance companies that offer plans through Medi-Cal to demonstrate that their physician networks are adequate for their patient load. The insurers submit separate quarterly reports to the state with information on which doctors are accepting patients. The state uses those reports to determine if there are enough doctors to treat those enrolled in the plans.

The inaccuracy of the directories calls into question whether many of the doctors also listed in the quarterly reports are actually accepting patients. If those reports are inflated by the names of doctors who are not available, the plans may be violating state law and regulations.

“This is a very real issue that is affecting millions of people in California,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a nonprofit advocacy group. “No directory is going to be 100 percent perfect, but if you’re at 50 or 60 percent accurate, that’s just not acceptable. Finding a doctor who is accepting patients — it should not be a flip of a coin or worse. This is a real problem.”

The number of people enrolled in Medi-Cal has grown substantially in the last six months under the federal Affordable Care Act. About 10.6 million people — more than a quarter of the state’s population — are enrolled in Medi-Cal.

The state Department of Health Care Services is responsible for making sure that insurers offering Medi-Cal plans have adequate doctor networks and comply with regulations, which include updating their directories every six months. Another state office, the Department of Managed Health Care, licenses all health plans in the state and is also in charge of making sure that consumers have adequate access to doctors and the ability to choose their primary-care provider.

“It is the plan’s responsibility to get the updated list and to have those on hand, so we certainly want the plans to be able to provide that for their members,” said Norman Williams, spokesman for the Health Care Services department. “It is a requirement within the law.”

Marta Green, spokeswoman for the Managed Health Care department, encouraged Medi-Cal enrollees who are having trouble finding a doctor to contact the agency’s health center.

Green said her department is investigating the adequacy of doctor networks offered on the Covered California exchange by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California after receiving a number of complaints.

“Provider networks and adequacy is a key focus for the DMHC and the department is closely monitoring all complaints regarding networks and access issues for all market segments — both commercial and government-sponsored,” Green said in an email message. “The DMHC will continue to take action against plans that fail to ensure their enrollees get timely access to appropriate health-care services.”

Nicole Kasabian Evans, spokeswoman for the California Association of Health Plans, which represents Medi-Cal managed-care plans in the state, said the plans update their provider lists “on a very regular basis.” But sometimes, she said, inaccuracies occur when doctors fail to notify the plans that they are no longer accepting patients.

“Plans have to really rely on physicians to keep them updated,” she said. “Doctors are supposed to notify the health plan, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen.”

But some doctors say the health plans are at fault.

The California Medical Association, which has launched its own investigation of doctor directories in Northern California, said that doctors have reported that their practices are often listed erroneously even after they tell insurers that they are no longer accepting patients.

What reporters found

Overall, 48.1 percent of doctors listed in the PDF directories and website indexes for Butte, Fresno and Imperial counties were not accepting new patients or could not be reached. The PDFs were less accurate than the data accessed via website search functions. The PDFs listed an average of 53.1 percent of doctors who were not accepting new patients or could not be reached, while the percentage was 37.1 for the website data.

Research on website indexes in 10 other counties across the state showed similar rates of inaccuracy. Of the 175 doctors called in those counties, 78 said they were not accepting new patients or could not be reached, or 44.6 percent.

In Butte County, a small, rural county in Northern California, reporters called doctors listed in directories from Anthem Blue Cross and California Health and Wellness, the two managed-care plans there. About 95.3 percent of doctors listed in the Anthem PDF directory and 56.5 percent listed on the website were not accepting new patients or could not be reached. For California Health, the percentages were 61.6 for the PDF and 71.4 for the website.

In Fresno County, located in the center of the state, reporters conducted research on the Medi-Cal directories issued by Anthem and CalViva Health in that county. About 49.8 percent of doctors listed in the Anthem PDF directory and 43.7 percent listed on the website were not accepting new patients or could not be reached. For CalViva, the percentages were 40.7 for the PDF and 36.9 for the web.

In Imperial County, which borders Mexico, reporters called doctors listed in directories from California Health and Wellness and Molina Healthcare of California. About 65.6 percent of doctors listed in the California Health PDF and 22 percent listed on the website were not accepting new patients or could not be reached. A PDF directory was not available on the Molina website, but the search function on the website yielded the only completely accurate provider list of the three counties. It was also the smallest list, with only six doctors.

Insurers respond

When people enroll in a Medi-Cal managed care plan, they are usually assigned a primary-care physician or they have the option of selecting a doctor. They’re given a directory to page through, in case they want to choose their own physician. In some cases, such as if people are also eligible for another government insurance program or if the insurers make a mistake, people may not be assigned a primary-care provider.

In addition, there is a period of about 30 days, before they enroll in a plan, but after the state has processed their paperwork, where clients are on their own to find a physician if needed.

Greg Hund, CalViva’s CEO, said he wasn’t surprised to learn that about four in 10 doctors listed in his company’s directory for Fresno County weren’t accepting patients or couldn’t be reached.

“That history has been going on for a long time here in the (San Joaquin) Valley,” he said. “The majority of the providers are in it to take care of their existing patients.”

Hund and several of the other insurers contacted said having an accurate directory was a difficult task.

“It’s always been a challenge for any health plan to have a provider list that’s accurate,” he said. “As soon as you get published, somebody retires or somebody decides not to accept. That’s not just to do with the Medi-Cal program — any health plan has the same challenge.”

Kasabian Evans, with the Association of Health Plans, and several of the insurers the Health Report contacted questioned whether it mattered if the directories are inaccurate, because enrollees are almost always assigned a primary-care physician when they sign up.

“When members want to switch their primary care doctors, all they need to do is call Anthem and we will find them a new doctor accepting additional patients,” Darrel Ng, Anthem spokesman, said in an email message. Anthem operates Medi-Cal plans in 28 counties.

But the Health Care Services department said that patients must have the option to choose their doctor, and having an accurate directory is an important part of that.

“We want them to have options, we want them to have choices and to be able to receive the care they need, with someone they feel comfortable with,” Williams said.

 

Sophia DeWitt, interim co-director of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, helps Sommak Chounlamany with his Medi-Cal paperwork. DeWitt said she called five doctors listed in a Fresno directory as speaking Laotian, Chounlamany’s native language, but four weren’t accepting patients.

Poor struggle to get access

Sommak Chounlamany, 45, a Fresno resident, is just one example of how the faulty directories affect consumers. He was excited to benefit from the expansion of Medi-Cal this year under the Affordable Care Act. Having emigrated from Laos nearly two decades ago, he had never had health insurance before.

But when he enrolled in Anthem’s Fresno County Medi-Cal plan last month, he was told to choose a primary-care provider and had trouble finding one, he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“If I hadn’t had help, I don’t think I could have found a doctor,” he said.

Chounlamany turned to Sophia DeWitt, interim co-director of Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, a nonprofit group that helps refugees and new immigrants. But even DeWitt, who is health insurance savvy, said she had a hard time finding him a doctor.

“There were five offices where they spoke Laotian, and I called five places, and four of them said no, they weren’t accepting patients, so I was at the point where there was only one option left,” she said. “There wasn’t much choice for him.”

DeWitt said her office is hearing similar complaints from Medi-Cal enrollees every week.

“Its one thing to sign people up for insurance, but then people come back once they’re signed up because they get information from Fresno County or their health plan that includes their card and it says, ‘Please chose a doctor,’” she said. “People don’t know what to do with that.”

Theresa Rivera, a program manager for Rowell Family Empowerment, a nonprofit that helps children with special needs, also considers herself good at navigating government programs, but she has had trouble finding a doctor for her four oldest kids. The children, who range in age from 10 to 16, enrolled in Medi-Cal late last year in Butte County, she said. Before they were assigned a primary-care physician, Rivera said she went through a number of hoops to try to find one.

The situation soon became urgent because one of her daughters contracted strep throat. Unable to reach a doctor that was accepting patients, she ended up taking her to an emergency clinic.

Rivera said she then called a number of doctors listed in California Health’s directory, scrambling to find a primary-care provider with enough openings to take all four of her children in time for them to get physicals to play school sports. She said she made three trips to the county Medi-Cal enrollment office and close to a dozen phone calls during her lunch breaks at work trying to find a doctor for her kids.

“We never did actually find one, and after all the back and forth and all the time, we just kind of gave up,” she said. “Our kids are pretty healthy, but I can’t imagine if they were in serious need.”

Rivera, who moved with her family to Shasta County this month, said she’s still looking for a primary-care physician for her children there.­­

Marijuana Legalization to be on 2016 Ballot—NOT This November

The effort to formally legalize marijuana in California is not to be on the November, 2014 ballot. Instead, there is a 99% chance it will be on the November, 2016 ballot. Internal fighting, for no discernible reason, caused the four groups promoting the formal legalization of marijuana to divide resources and assure the drug dealers and drug cartels have a monopoly on the sale of this easily to get illegal drug. Seriously, no school or business setting is marijuana free. It is as easy to find marijuana in California as it is to find a gas station. We do not have enough room in jails for murderers much less marijuana dealers. So cops mainly look the other way or give “warnings”.

My belief is the public is growing weary of enforcing marijuana and other drug laws. They see Guv Brown release criminals easily and quickly—while courts have opened the prison and jails due to “discomfort” of the prisoners.

Expect the measure to pass in 2016—since government needs the tax revenues—and just the Hollywood Elite could pay enough taxes to pay for the High Speed Rail over a period of thirty years!

vote ballot initiative

 

Pot advocates fail to qualify initiative for California ballot

Frank Stoltze, KPCC, 6/30/14

California voters anxious to legalize pot will have to wait for at least two years.

Supporters of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California are blaming an internal disagreement over strategy for their failure to qualify a measure for the November ballot.

“Most funders of the movement think 2016 is a more viable option for a ballot initiative,” said John Lee, who led the signature gathering campaign for the Marijuana Legalization and Control Act of 2014. It was the best-funded among four campaigns this year.

In two years, voters elect a new president. More liberal voters typically go to the polls in a presidential election year. The Drug Policy Alliance and billionaire political activist George Soros were among those who decided to wait until 2016.

Lee and others pushed to place a measure on the ballot his year because polls showed California voters appear ready to legalize pot. A Field Poll in December found 55 percent of Californians now support legalization.

The Marijuana Legalization and Control Act campaign raised about $200,000, Lee said. That’s well short of the estimated $2 million necessary to run a signature-gathering effort. They would have needed another $10 million to run a successful November campaign, he said.

The campaign collected about half the necessary 504,760 signatures needed to qualify a measure, Lee said. The deadline to collect the signatures was June 26.

Failure to qualify a measure for the ballot is a big disappointment for people like David Welch. He’s an attorney who represents medical marijuana clinics in LA, and hoped voters would get a chance to decide on wider use of the drug.

“A lot of us in the medical marijuana industry were hoping…we would fall in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington,” he said. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana last year.

It seems likely California voters will have a chance to vote on the issue in two years. The question is how many different versions of marijuana legalization might make the ballot. Supporters of legalization differ on a number of key issues, including how sales would be regulated and how much pot people could possess.

As San Francisco’s Housing Costs Escalate, the City Can’t Afford Anti-Growth Legislation

San Fran Progressives may have hit the wall in “free” services and welfare programs, policies that raise wages and cut productivity. It is possible that the potential of a $15 per hour minimum wage also affects the cost of rental housing, putting it further out of the reach of hard working people. The average cost of an apartment in San Fran is $3500 a month (not a typo). At $15 an hour for a 40 hour week, that means $2400 a month, before taxes. So maybe $1800 to spend on a $3500 apartment. Any wonder California is in a Depression with the rich doing very well and the poor forced to eat scrapes.

Watch this once world class city become the poster child for the rich and tech oriented. The rest should leave while they can.

“Perhaps more than any other American city, San Francisco’s housing crisis is fueled by insufficient supply. “Unless we actually change the supply and demand equation, the average housing cost is going to stay crazy expensive,” says Metcalf. And yet, in a progressive city like San Francisco, growth is demonized, and inevitably aligned with the disruption and new money that have come with the tech industry.”

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As San Francisco’s Housing Costs Escalate, the City Can’t Afford Anti-Growth Legislation

By Diana Lind, Public CEO, 6/30/14

Earlier this week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that the city would pursue raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2016. It was a policy move aimed to staunch some of the palpable anxiety over the city’s increasing unaffordability — and, unlike the city’s housing crisis, an easy topic to get consensus around.

And yet, the push to raise the minimum wage is inextricably tied to the city’s skyrocketing housing costs. The average cost of a one-bedroom in San Francisco is nearly $3,500 per month, and meanwhile 70 percent of housing units are selling for more than their asking price, suggesting that those who can afford to own are panicked to buy before prices get even higher.

But ironically, the same progressive ethos that has championed the minimum wage is hindering efforts to build more affordable housing. Many people believe that by preventing luxury or even market rate housing from getting built, it will keep neighborhoods from gentrifying. In a recent example, 200 residents of the Mission District participated in a town-hall-style meeting to voice concern over a new development atop a BART station that would create 350 new units of housing and retail space, claiming it would push out low-income residents.

But as Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR notes, the Mission was once dominated by affordable housing and still, stifling new market rate housing has done nothing to keep the neighborhood from gentrifying in more recent decades. “If you look at the Mission, from 1970 to 2010, essentially zero units of market rate housing were built and yet the Mission is the elite example of hypergentrification, even more so than Williamsburg.”

Mayor Lee has called the lack of affordable housing a “crisis” that “threatens to choke off [the city’s] economic growth and prosperity for the future.” As part of a plan to deal with this issue, he has promised to build or rehabilitate 30,000 units of housing within the next six years. It’s a number that sounds impressive, but is barely an improvement upon current trends of about 3,500 new units of housing in 2013. Moreover, SPUR estimates that a rate of 5,000 new units of housing would merely stabilize prices, not lower them.

Meanwhile, another effort to preserve affordable housing has been introduced by Supervisor Jane Kim, who seeks to ensure that 30 percent of all housing that gets built be affordable. But while the intentions for the so-called “metering” plan are good, they’ll undoubtedly make building any type of housing more complicated — and therefore expensive — inevitably generating fewer total units.

Perhaps more than any other American city, San Francisco’s housing crisis is fueled by insufficient supply. “Unless we actually change the supply and demand equation, the average housing cost is going to stay crazy expensive,” says Metcalf. And yet, in a progressive city like San Francisco, growth is demonized, and inevitably aligned with the disruption and new money that have come with the tech industry.

Those in favor of increased regulation over affordable housing claim that without more oversight, developers will just get richer while few units for low- or moderate-income individuals will get built. The sad fact is that by preventing new housing, the lowest-income people stand the most to lose.

“There are lot of wealthy homeowners with property on top of hills with great views who personally benefit from keeping the existing system in place, and they seem to vote in high numbers,” says Metcalf. “The elected officials are willing to do almost anything — including spend money — on affordable housing, but the one thing they’re not willing to do is take on the anti-growth homeowner lobby.”

Instead of contemplating legislation like the metering plan, which will only belabor the construction process and prevent more housing from getting built, the city needs to fundamentally reconsider its zoning. While no paragon of affordability, New York City has used a 2003 rezoning ordinance to add capacity for 80,000 new units of housing. Ensuring San Francisco’s affordable housing stock is imperative — but it can be achieved much more quickly, and therefore more equitably, by not wasting time reviewing each building that throws off the mix of affordable and market rate housing, but instead rezoning parts of the city, particularly those serviced by public transit. If San Francisco further slows the process of building housing, those needing affordable housing will have to leave because they can’t afford to wait.

Unions Cause ObamaCare to Pass—Now Take 6% PAY CUT

Barack the First has an odd way to treat his “friends”—the unions stole money from workers, elected members of the Congress and Senate, got ObamaCare passed (high cost/inferior health care) and now the workers are taking another hit—a 6% CUT in their paychecks to pay for this Third World plan.

When will the workers revolt against union leaders that take their money then harm their paychecks and families? It was known at the time this would hurt union workers. Not mentioned in this article is that in 2017 many workers with union negotiated contracts will start paying taxes directly on their health care plan—another 4-5% pay cut thanks to union leaders.

“In the case of the Affordable Care act, Mulligan is talking about implicit marginal tax rates, or “the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as the result of working.” This means that the taxes and subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act increase the tax rate on an additional dollar of income by six percentage points.

Mulligan warns that we shouldn’t be surprised that “as we implement a new law that taxes jobs and incomes, we are ending up with fewer jobs and less income.”

BART and Unions present before  state panel

 

 

Obamacare Increases Marginal Tax Rate on Labor by Six Percentage Points

Andrew Lundeen, Tax Foundation, June 24, 2014

The Affordable Care Act increases marginal tax rates on labor by about six percentage points and is one of the largest tax increases in the last 70 years according to economist Casey Mulligan:

“During a period that included more than a dozen tax increases, the ACA is arguably the largest as a single piece of legislation, adding about six percentage points to the marginal tax rate faced, on average, by workers in the economy. The only way to cite larger marginal tax increases would be to combine multiple coincident laws, such as the Revenue Acts of 1950 and 1951 and the new payroll tax rate that went into effect in 1950. Even with these adjustments, the ACA is still the third largest marginal tax rate hike during the seventy years.”

In the case of the Affordable Care act, Mulligan is talking about implicit marginal tax rates, or “the extra taxes paid, and subsidies forgone, as the result of working.” This means that the taxes and subsidies included in the Affordable Care Act increase the tax rate on an additional dollar of income by six percentage points.

Mulligan warns that we shouldn’t be surprised that “as we implement a new law that taxes jobs and incomes, we are ending up with fewer jobs and less income.”

In response, Greg Mankiw did some rough math to illustrate what the six percentage point tax increase might do to the economy:

“Given that labor income was already taxed by income and payroll taxes, that figure indicates the return to working fell by about 10 percent. If we apply a plausible aggregate labor supply elasticity of 0.5, this in turn suggests a decline in labor supply of about 5 percent. In the long run, as the capital stock adjusts, a fall in labor supply leads to a proportionate fall in output.”

Mankiw says that Mulligan emailed him and shared that he believes the effect will be about a two percent drop in the size of the economy.

In an economy where the labor force participation rate sits near the levels of the late 1970s at near 63 percent, policies that cut the return to work by 10 percent and decrease the size of the economy by any amount are the last types of policies that workers need.

A Robot WILL Write Some Press Releases and More—it is Starting

Call Centers take your pizza order. Online forms are used to purchase suits, shoes and music. A machine has been made and is being used to make hamburgers for fast food joints. But the media can not be computerized, especially the writing of news and press releases for the rip and read media. Until now.

““Interestingly, we already have been automating a good chunk of AP’s sports agate report for several years. Data comes from STATS, the sports statistics company, and is automated and formatted into our systems for distribution.”

Think Wolf Blitzer or Bob Schieffer can be replaced by a vocalized computer? Would anybody notice the difference or care? So few are watching broadcast news that few will see a difference between Wolf reading an Obama press release and a machine doing the same. Those pushing for higher taxes, more regulations, higher minimum wages are accelerating business moving from people to machines to do the work. Again unions and Democrats working hard to harm the poor, middle class and minorities.

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Will Robots Write Your Client’s Next Press Release?

By Patrick Coffee, Medisbistro, 6/30/14

Did you take our headline too literally? Our apologies. Robots will almost certainly not write your next press release…or the one after that, or the one after that.

The Associated Press did, however, just announce a very real “robotic content production deal” with a company called Automation Insights. In fact, the AP even published a Q&A on the matter which very closely resembles…a traditional press release!

Of course there’s more.

As robotic as most releases may seem, Automation Insights will only produce those related to financial reports. More specifically, they’re launching “company earnings stories based on robot-processed data” in July, with said data provided by a company called Zacks Investment Research (a name that may have doubled as the title of a “Saved by the Bell” episode).

As Andrew Beaujon of Poynter reported this morning, the AP frames this move not as the further marginalization of investigative reporting but as a way to empower financial journalists to spend less time compiling numbers and more time telling us what those numbers mean.

Lou Ferrara, the AP’s managing editor of business, writes:

“For many years, we have been spending a lot of time crunching numbers and rewriting information from companies…

…instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter.

This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs.”

This isn’t as revolutionary as it might seem, either:

“Interestingly, we already have been automating a good chunk of AP’s sports agate report for several years. Data comes from STATS, the sports statistics company, and is automated and formatted into our systems for distribution.”

Thankfully, trusty trade bloggers will still be around to copy and paste fake quotes on staffing announcements…as long as you don’t demand that we give your team credit for writing them in the first place.

Now we can return to the only thing more boring to the average reader than a financial earnings report: debating the future of the press release.

 

CA East Bay Area Politico’s: We Want HIGHEST Minimum Wage in the Nation

If I wanted to create a regional Depression, forcing the middle class to move to Texas and the poor to lose job opportunities I would take the road being proposed. Instead of a City or County passing a high minimum wage, which will cause job losses, vote to have everybody in the region to pay the same—supposedly so no jobs are lost by an individual city. Instead, they want to end small businesses in the region, create more expensive housing and make more people dependent on government welfare services. They want everybody to lose jobs.

Or, they will depopulate the area, since machines will do the jobs of unskilled, inexperienced workers, for much less. The East Bay of California will become The New World—quickly becoming the very rich, the very poor and the illegal alien. Wonder how the rich are going to get their house cleaning, landscaping done, along with going to those special small out of the way bistro’s that will no longer afford to stay open.

Great way to kill a region economically in just one election. Go for it. “Inspired by the proposed minimum wage hike facing Oakland voters this November, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wants the two cities — plus Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito and Emeryville — to ensure pay hits $12.82 within the next three years. (The city of Richmond, meanwhile, is on track to raise its minimum wage to $12.30 within the same time frame.)”

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East Bay proposal reignites minimum wage fight
By James Poulos, Calwatchdog, 6/30/14

When a handful of corporations conspires to fix wages, they face legal action. But for several cities in the San Francisco East Bay area, the idea of a concerted effort to set pay has a newfound appeal.

Rather than taking a permissive attitude toward business collusion, however, the plan is to create what supporters are calling a regional minimum wage, one higher than the $8 per hour rate that prevails in the area. (Next month, California law will require a statewide wage of at least $9 an hour, with another increase to $10 in January 2016.)

Inspired by the proposed minimum wage hike facing Oakland voters this November, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates wants the two cities — plus Alameda, Albany, El Cerrito and Emeryville — to ensure pay hits $12.82 within the next three years. (The city of Richmond, meanwhile, is on track to raise its minimum wage to $12.30 within the same time frame.)

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Bates flips the traditional free-market critique of minimum wages on its head, claiming that a regional wage allows East Bay cities to “share enforcement duties” and avoid the “economic disadvantage” of losing jobs to more pro-business municipalities.

From national to local

Left unexplained is how an East Bay wage cartel would manage to keep businesses from shifting work toward the nearest comparable cities without artificially inflated minimum wages.

Under the present circumstances, political hardball, not economic logic, is driving the Bay Area’s push for higher wages. This year, Democrats had hoped to use a national push for an increased minimum wage to attract votes, offsetting the unpopular and inefficient implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Despite some initial gains, the key effort behind a congressional wage law failed, driving advocates and policymakers to shift their strategy to the state and municipal level.

Ironically, the moves have helped spur a majority of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to adopt a resolution urging an increase in the federal minimum wage. Congressional action would take the heat off of individual mayors, who often face withering pressure from well-organized or highly vocal groups agitating for dramatic wage hikes.

Mayors in the hot seat

It’s the kind of activism that can leave mayors scrambling — and hoping to settle the issue in a way that spreads responsibility for compromise numbers, not concentrates it.

Mayor Bates himself incurred the wrath of Raise the Wage East Bay, an organization that believed it had his support in May for an ambitious minimum wage plan. According to Raise the Wage, Bates signaled his agreement to raise the wage to $15.02 by 2020, at which point the wage would be indexed to inflation. But Bates ended up “switching sides,” the group claims, leading “a confused stampede” toward a “minuscule increase” of 75 cents in Berkeley’s minimum wage. “The measure they passed has no provisions for health insurance, paid sick days or even adjustments for inflation.”

It’s a pattern repeated elsewhere in the Bay. Richmond’s Chamber of Commerce managed to derail a planned minimum wage increase to $12.30, enabling a wave of 11th-hour exemptions that applied to employers hit hardest by wage hikes – small businesses, nonprofits and bars and restaurants. Outraged, unions and their allies formulated plans to take a broader increase straight to voters.

Until then, the onus is on the East Bay’s mayors to stake out their positions as the political winds blow. For at least some key figures in the debate, that means no small amount of stalling. Jac Asher, mayor of Emeryville, captured the mood with some carefully qualified words about Bates’ proposal. Although she insisted she supports a regional minimum wage, her concern, she said, was simple: “Every city is going to be dealing with a different context and different circumstances.”