Harbor Currents: NEWS Feb. 14, 2013


Lieu Reintroduces Consumer Protection Bill
SACRAMENTO – In response to widespread reports showing that medical patients are not always informed of expenses, on Feb. 14, Sen. Ted W. Lieu reintroduced legislation that would require more disclosure about potential treatment costs.
Senate Bill 266 measure seeks greater transparency for medical billing by prohibiting any provider organization, group or hospital from advertising or holding themselves as being within a patient’s insurance network unless all the providers in the provider organization, group or hospital are indeed in the patient’s insurance network, or the provider organization specifically informs the patients that not all of their doctors are in the network.
The problem of unexpected billing occurs mostly when patients, without their knowledge, receive medical care from a medical-insurance provider that is ‘out of network,’ or not contracted with that patient’s insurance company.
For example, when a patient goes to a hospital and gets a blood test, the patient has no control over which pathologist the hospital sends the blood test to for analysis.  If the pathologist happens to not be in the patient’s network, then the patient gets hit with a separate and often very high out-of-network medical bill from the pathologist that the patient never chose.
While existing law requires hospitals to provide an estimate of their charges when asked, those estimates do not always include the cost of doctors or other experts who contract with the hospitals. In addition, patients are often given no notice and therefore have no choice about whether they will receive an out-of-network bill that their insurance plan will not cover.
SB 266 will be assigned to a policy-review committee, which is expected to occur within the next couple of months.

LB Civic Center Might Get Facelift  
LONG BEACH — On Feb. 12, the Long Beach City Council voted 7–2, council members James Johnson and Al Austin opposed, to moved forward with plans to re-imagine the Long Beach Civic Center.
The council was presented with the seismic deficiencies of the civic center and decided to direct staff to communicate with the engineering firm that prepared the seismic study and conduct a peer review to determine if the study is valid current methodologies. Should the staff review show that the original study is not valid, a second seismic study will take place.
The Civic Center, which includes the Downtown Library, City Hall, the Los Angeles County Courthouse and Lincoln Park was built about 40 years ago.  A 2006 Seismic Integrity study found that in a major earthquake, City Hall would face catastrophic damage, including the collapse of all stair wells and elevators. Also, the Main Library rooftop and garden is structurally unsound and has remained closed to pedestrians for decades. City management estimates that repairing the current Civic Center could cost more than $150 million due to the extensive seismic work needed at City Hall.
Five years ago, Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal and now Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal formed the Downtown Visioning Committee, a group of residents, architects, historical preservationists, business leaders, and city planners to map out the future of downtown. The committee’s work led to the creation of the Downtown Plan, the new planning and zoning document passed by the City Council this past year, as well as the creation of guiding principles to steer development Downtown.
The guiding principles developed are now being used to map out a possible new Civic Center.  These principles include bold architecture, sustainable design, transit oriented development, pedestrian friendly environments and active green spaces.

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation Feb. 10, from the Vatican in Rome. The pope attributes this decision mainly to the lack of mental and physical strengths, which he claims have deteriorated significantly within the previous few months.
Pope Benedict became the first Pope to resign from position since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.

Officer Involved Shooting
LONG BEACH — An officer-involved shooting took place at about 1 p.m. Feb. 11, near Orange and 45th Way in Long Beach.
A plain-clothed detective was parked when an Asian man pulled next to him and began displaying gang signs. The detective identified himself as a policeman and the subject took out a handgun. The man began to drive away but then stopped and pointed his gun at the detective. Thereafter, a shooting took place.
The detective did not sustain any injuries, and it is unclear whether the suspect sustained any injuries because he fled. The man drove away in light-colored BMW traveling northbound on Orange Avenue.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7244, anonymously at (800) 222-8477 or by visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

ILWU Announces Endorsements
LOS ANGELES — The ILWU Southern California District Council Delegates recently announced their endorsements for the upcoming municipal primary elections on March 5.
            The following is a list of the delegates’ recommendations:
Mayor: Wendy Greuel
Los Angeles City Attorney: Mike Feuer or Carmen Trutanich
Los Angeles Controller: Dennis Zine or Ron Galperin
District 15 City Council: Joe Buscaino
Carson Mayor: Jim Dear
Carson Council Members: Julie Ruiz-Raber and Mike Gipson

Changes in the LBPD
LONG BEACH — Starting Feb. 16, Laurie Briney no longer will be the patrol resource officer for the Long Beach Police Department.
The new patrol resource officer will Officer Ken Green. Also, South Division has been consolidated into the West Division. This means that complaints and information should now be sent to lbpdwest@longbeach.gov. Green’s number will be (562) 570-3462.


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