Tag: Medi-Cal

Jan 31 2013

The California Flap: January 31, 2013

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The California Legislature is in session.

Today’s schedule is here.

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

Around the Capitol today:

Lawmakers are holding a press conference pledging their support for a federal immigration overhaul. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will be joined by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella; Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento; and Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in room 317 of the State Capitol.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Controversial school bonds create ‘debt for the next generation’ – The Napa Valley Unified School District had a quandary: The district needed a new high school in American Canyon, but taxpayers appeared unwilling to take the financial hit required to build it.So in 2009, the district took out an unusual loan – $22 million with no payments due for 21 years. By 2049, when the debt is paid, it will have cost taxpayers $154 million – seven times the amount borrowed.School board member Jose Hurtado said he stands by the deal. But if it were a mortgage, he acknowledged, “we would run.”Napa is one of at least 1,350 school districts and government agencies across the nation that have turned to a controversial form of borrowing called capital appreciation bonds to finance major projects, a California Watch analysis shows. Relying on these bonds has allowed districts to borrow billions of dollars while postponing payments in some cases for decades.
  • California taxes surge in January, report says – California was flooded with tax dollars in January, according to a new report, and the state received $5 billion more revenue this month than Gov. Jerry Brown had anticipated.The Wednesday report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office shows a stark reversal for the state budget. At the end of November, tax revenue had fallen almost $1 billion short in the current fiscal year, according to figures from Brown’s Department of Finance.Now the state appears to be $5 billion ahead, which could provide further evidence for the governor’s declaration that California has emerged from its financial crisis.The analyst’s office floated three possible causes for the surge in tax revenue. The most positive theory is also the simplest — the economy has improved and there’s more income to tax.The others are less optimistic. It’s possible that wealthy residents, fearful that federal budget negotiations would increase their taxes, decided to cash out investments early. If so, that means the s…
  • PPIC Poll: Californians fear shootings, support citizenship – A new statewide poll finds Californians fearful of mass shootings and strongly in favor of more gun control, while also supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.The poll from the Public Policy Institute of California released Wednesday night also finds more optimism about the state’s economy than at anytime since 2007.”Still,” says PPIC pollster and president Mark Baldassare, “many Californians are expressing concerns about the direction of the economy and the state budget situation.”But it’s the California reaction to recent news headlines that offers an early view on what could become potent political issues during the 2013 legislative season in Sacramento and next year’s statewide elections.65 percent of those polled say the government is not doing enough to regulate access to guns, and an equal number support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic style assault weapons.
  • PPIC Poll: Californians upbeat over future, budget plan – Californians are more optimistic about the future of the state than at any time since before the recession and are giving high marks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s budgeting approach after voters approved higher taxes to help balance the state budget, according to a poll released Wednesday.The Democratic governor’s job approval rating reached a record high 51 percent in the latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, with even a slim majority of Republicans giving a thumbs-up to his recent budget proposal.The poll also found broad support for increased gun controls and changes to current immigration laws that would allow a path to citizenship. A majority support the federal health care overhaul that already is under way in California.The percentage of adults who said the state is headed in the right direction was 51 percent, the first time a majority of people said that since January 2007.
  • For millionaire athletes, states with highest tax rates may not make the cut – Is Lefty’s stance on California’s tax hikes a sign of things to come for millionaire athletes?The Golden State’s new 13.3 percent income tax on top earners prompted golfer Phil Mickelson to say earlier this month he was considering a move, and according to the accountants who advise millionaire athletes, he was just saying what a lot of jocks were already thinking. Federal taxes on the top income bracket just rose by roughly 5 percent, and, while there’s nothing rich athletes can do about that, they are paying attention to which states dip into their game checks — and how much they take.“They’re going to have an exodus of people,” said John Karaffa, president of ProSport CPA, a Virginia-based firm that represents nearly 300 professional athletes, primarily in basketball and football. “I think they’ll see some [leave California] for sure. They were already a very high tax state and it’s getting to a point where folks have to make a business decision as well as a lifestyle decision.”
  • Legislation proposed to help California launch healthcare overhaul – The state Legislature gaveled in a special session on healthcare Monday, pushing forward with sweeping proposals to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul.The measures, including a major expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s public insurance program for the poor, would cement the state’s status as the nation’s earliest and most aggressive adopter of the federal Affordable Care Act. Beginning in January 2014, the law requires most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.Gov. Jerry Brown called the special session so healthcare bills that he signs can take effect within 90 days rather than next year.
  • Counties express concerns about Medi-Cal expansion – As state lawmakers propose a major expansion of Medi-Cal to help California implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, county officials are raising concerns that the proposal could siphon critical dollars from their safety-net programs.On Monday, legislative leaders in both houses sponsored bills that would dramatically expand the state’s public insurance program. Under the proposals, individuals earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level — or $15,415 a year — would be covered, potentially adding more than 1 million Californians to the Medi-Cal rolls.The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, phasing down to 90% afterward.Currently, counties receive state funding to care for the uninsured. But Gov. Jerry Brown has said that if the state were to administer the Medi-Cal expansion it may reduce the roughly $2 billion it gives to counties each year to cover the new costs. In his proposed budget, the governor said the state might also shift…
  • State ordered to pay back districts $1 billion for 20-year-old mandate – A state commission has ruled that the state must reimburse school districts about $1 billion in mandated special education costs dating back 20 years. But like many protracted mandate cases, the victory is largely one of principle. Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to include a small payback in next year’s budget, and the dollars will come from funding within Proposition 98, so it will essentially involve shifting education dollars around.The unreimbursed expenses are for intervention plans for special education students identified with behavior problems. In the early 1990s the State Board of Education, under orders from the Legislature, prescribed interventions that teachers should incorporate into individual education plans, known as IEPs, according to Paul Golaszewski, an analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office who has followed the case.
  • L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretary – L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, again, cast as possible transportation secretaryThe departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job – either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires. | Also: Doug McIntyre on the mayor’s next moveVillaraigosa was in South Korea for the Special Olympics and is not expected to return until Thursday.
  • Phil Mickelson’s net state income tax increase: 83.6%!!!!! – Richard Rider, the dean of the small-government/low-tax movement in San Diego County, has come up with some stunning number-crunching on his blog:“Here’s the fact that EVERYONE (including me) initially undervalued concerning [Rancho Santa Fe pro golfer Phil] Mickelson and CA state income taxes. Starting in 2013, Mickelson’s NET state income tax has jumped 83.6%! And yes, this huge increase hits most Californians making more than $2 million income.“Here’s why. Until 2013, state income taxes were deductible for federalincome tax purposes. Starting in 2013, for the really rich, this deductibility largely goes away (as does deducting property taxes and many other deductions). For people with over $2 million of income, they lose 80% of such deductions.“With Proposition 30 passed in November, CA has raised its income tax on the wealthy by 29%. The combined tax increase is breathtaking. Do the math, and you find that in 2011 the net CA income tax for Mickelson was 6.7% In 2013 his net CA income tax is 12.3% — an increase of 83.6%.”This is mind-boggling. No wonder Phil said he was contemplating “drastic changes.”
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Feb 07 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 7, 2012

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Hearst Castle, San Simeone, California

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Competing California tax measures move ahead without Brown’s blessings

Gov. Jerry Brown had hoped that by now, he’d have the field all to himself in his appeal to voters for new taxes.

But Brown, whose plan would raise income taxes on those making $250,000 or more and hike the sales tax by a half cent, is feeling the heat from the left: two other groups who are seeking to place tax-hike initiatives on the November ballot made it clear Monday they are in the race for the long haul.

The campaign to raise taxes on millionaires, headed by the California Federation of Teachers, kicked off its signature-gathering campaign with rush-hour banner displays on highway overpasses throughout California. And wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger gave a full-throated defense of her separate tax-hike initiative at the California PTA’s state conference, promising she’d reach into her own deep pockets to ensure a win on behalf of schools.

“We’re going to get this on the ballot and we’re going to win, too,” Munger told reporters after addressing the PTA group, “because we’re prepared to not only get on the ballot but be sure it has a very strong campaign behind it.”

Another group with a tax-hike plan, Think Long, headed by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, recently backed off from its ballot measure plans, a relief to Brown.

While the governor has said he worries that more than one tax-hike initiative could doom them all because of potential confusion among voters, people from both campaigns said they

believe more than one tax hike can survive November.

California: AFSCME Picks Berman Over Sherman

Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.) has won the endorsement of a second major labor union in the last month for his primary battle with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman.

The California arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced it is backing Berman, who “has been a tireless advocate for the rights of public employees, defending workers’ rights in the courtroom as a labor lawyer and working to achieving collective bargaining rights for thousands of California public employees during his tenure in the state Legislature,” said Barbara Blake, an executive board member.

Initiative would make Legislature part time, slash its pay

A proposal by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) probably won’t make her many friends among her colleagues. She wants to reduce the Legislature to part-time status and cut its pay from $95,000 annually to $1,500 a month.

Grove is one of the organizers of an initiative that was approved Monday to begin circulating petitions toward qualifying for the ballot. The constitutional amendment would limit regular legislative sessions to 30 days each January and 60 days starting each May. In odd-numbered years, the legislative sessions would be devoted to budget issues.

In addition to slashing lawmakers’ pay, the measure would limit employment while they are in office. State financial officials say it could cut lawmakers’ salaries, travel and living expenses and staff costs by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Feds block cuts to California’s Medi-Cal program

The state’s effort to make Medi-Cal recipients dig into their wallets for co-pays was blocked by the federal government Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration will appeal the decision, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance. Unless the decision is reversed, the state will need to shell out an additional $575 million in the next fiscal year, Palmer said.

The state wanted low-income residents using Medi-Cal to pay $5 for doctor visits, $3 for prescriptions and up to $200 for hospital visits.

But the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which had to approve the change because Medi-Cal is part of the federal MediCaid program, said the state’s plan would violate part of the Social Security Act.

“We recognize the needs of states to keep costs down and are supportive of the goal to promote cost-effective use of health care services,” said Brian Cook, a spokesman for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of Health & Human Services. “We are denying this amendment as it is inconsistent with statute.”

Enjoy your morning!

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Jan 31 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: January 31, 2012

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Mission San Diego

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

Today is deadline day in the Capitol.

  • Local Redevelopment Agencies will take their last breaths today. The 2010 law axing the agencies, crafted as part of last year’s budget package, takes effect Feb. 1.
  • Bills introduced in 2011 must clear their house-of-origin today in order to stay alive for the remainder of the two-year session.
  • Candidates for state and federal office face a midnight deadline for filing campaign finance reports. The reports will cover cash raised and spent through Dec. 31, 2011.

On to today’s California headlines:

Three Strikes change falters ASSEMBLY: Bill for ballot proposal to soften law may get another try today.

Some state lawmakers want to ask voters to revise California’s Three Strikes law as a way to reduce prison sentences and save money on corrections, but they’re having a hard time getting the issue through the Legislature.

The Assembly on Monday failed to pass AB327, which would require that a defendant’s third strike be for a serious or violent felony. Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles, asked for the bill to be taken up again today, the deadline for each house to pass legislation introduced last year.

“This bill is necessary because the current Three Strikes law has led to many unjust sentences over the past 18 years that are not proportionate to the offense. As an advocate for fair and just society, this reality is quite troubling,” Davis said Monday.

Democratic supporters say the change is needed because many third-strike offenders have been sentenced to dozens of years in prison for petty theft and less serious offenses. Debate is split largely along partisan lines, with Republicans saying the bill dilutes the intent of the 1994 voter-approved law, which was intended to punish repeat offenders.

“This is a grave issue,” said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber. “Three Strikes came to pass because repeat, unrehabilitated offenders were preying again and again and again upon our families, our children, the people of our community. And it has worked.”

California Assembly votes to outlaw smoking on hospital campuses

Californians may soon be adding hospital campuses to the list of smoke-free workplaces.

The Assembly passed a bill Monday that would expand current limits on smoking at hospitals to entire campuses. Existing law makes it illegal to smoke in buildings and areas adjacent to entrances. Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) argued that the legislation would not only encourage patients, visitors and employees to quit the habit but protect people against exposure to secondhand smoke.

The bill drew the ire of Republicans who said it was another example of California’s “nanny state” politics. Many hospitals, they said, have already voluntarily banned smoking.

Los Angeles judge blocks state budget cut to Medi-Cal providers

A Los Angeles federal judge has tentatively blocked Medi-Cal reimbursement cuts to doctors and other providers who treat low-income patients.

U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder ruled today that the state cannot reduce payments by 10 percent to Medi-Cal doctors, dentists, ambulance services and other providers. The tentative decision comes after Snyder previously blocked cuts to hospital-based nursing units and some pharmacists.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers included the 10 percent cut in last year’s budget as a way to save $623 million. They won approval from the Obama administration in late October.

Plaintiffs such as the California Medical Association and the California Dental Association argued that the Medi-Cal cut would reduce access to patients as more providers opt out of the system. The state already pays among the lowest rates in the nation to those who treat low-income patients.


Republican Meg Whitman’s HP likes Democrats

An interesting factoid for the 2012 elections: HP, the Silicon Valley powerhouse run by Republican Meg Whitman, is busy bankrolling Democrats.

Financial disclosure documents on file with the state’s election officer show that of some $48,000 that HP gave directly to political candidates during the last quarter of 2011, about $46,000 went to 18 Democrats and one Republican.

The largest single donation, for $13,000, went to state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the only statewide official to receive a contribution from HP during the fourth-quarter filing period. Harris is not up for reelection this year.

Only one Republican contender, Sen. Ted Gaines of Roseville, received a contribution — $2,000. 

The contributions were detailed in HP’s report on its major donations and independent expenditures.

The other recipients all were Democrats, and most received $1,500 or $2,000, with two reporting higher donations – South San Francisco Assemblyman Jerry Hill at $3,943 for a fundraising event and $3,900 for Assemblyman Michael Allen of Santa Rosa.

Whitman, a billionaire and former top executive at ebay, ran for governor in November 2010 and was defeated by Democrat Jerry Brown, who won with a margin of nearly 9 percent of the vote, or 1.3 million votes.

Enjoy your morning!

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