Scaled Back Premium Increases Allowed For Calif. Insurer; Calif. Lawmakers Pass Bills Setting Up Exchange; Alaska Approves Abortion Notification InitiativeThe Los Angeles Times: "California insurance regulators cleared the way Wednesday for Anthem Blue Cross to implement scaled-back rate hikes after a previous increase was canceled amid an uproar over its size. Anthem said it intends to put the new rates - averaging 14% and as high as 20% - into effect Oct. 1 for nearly 800,000 individual California policyholders. Regulators also allowed one of Anthem's nonprofit competitors, Blue Shield of California, to move ahead with rate increases - averaging 19% and as high as 29% - for 250,000 individual policyholders" (Helfand, 8/26).
The Wall Street Journal: "The California legislature on Wednesday passed the second of two related bills to set up [ a health-insurance marketplace called an] exchange, putting the state at the forefront of efforts nationwide and creating a blueprint that will likely influence other states. Under the national health-care overhaul law passed in March, states are supposed to set up exchanges, or their residents will be offered a federal version. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ... is expected to sign the bills. Many aspects of the exchange are mandated under the federal law, so many features of California's model will be included in those adopted by other states" (Mathews, 8/26).
The Associated Press: "Thousands of ground zero responders are being given more time to decide whether to settle lawsuits over their exposure to potentially toxic dust from the ruins of the World Trade Center, lawyers in the case said Wednesday. The lawyers said they have scrapped a deadline that gave rescue and response workers until Sept. 8 to join or reject a settlement worth as much as $713 million. The nearly 10,000 police officers, firefighters, and construction and utility workers involved in the suits will now get until Nov. 8 to make a decision" (Caruso, 8/25).
Anchorage Daily News: Alaskan voters Tuesday approved an initiative requiring that parents be notified before children "age 17 and younger receives an abortion. Ballot Measure 2 was one of the most fiercely contested items in the primary election, with total spending by both sides combined nearing $1 million. Tuesday's vote marks the first time Alaska voters confronted the abortion issue at the polls. Under the new law, a teen will be able to get around the requirement that her parents be notified if she appears before a judge or provides the doctor notarized statements attesting to abuse at home. The law approved by voters gives doctors the job of notifying the parent. A doctor who failed to do that could be hit with felony charges and a prison sentence of up to five years" (Demer, 8/25).
Indianapolis Star: "Gov. Mitch Daniels will write a letter to federal officials to request $207 million in Medicaid funding made available to the state under the a new federal stimulus package passed earlier this month. Daniels had expressed opposition to the stimulus package, which also will send Indiana $227 million in education funding" (8/26). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.