State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obama's health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states. Hawaii's marketplace, the latest cautionary tale, was awarded $205 million in federal startup grants. It has spent about $139 million and enrolled 8,200 customers for individual coverage in 2015. Unable to sustain itself, the state marketplace is turning over sign-ups to the federal HealthCare.gov for 2016.
California regulators adopted a controversial plan Friday that will increase electricity bills for those who use the least power. People with a household income under $27,400 should see monthly bills rise $5.84; those with household incomes ranging from $27,400 to $54,800 will see an increase of $4.59; those with incomes of $54,800 to $82,200 will see a $2.40 increase; households in the $82,200 to $137,000 range will see a 70 cent increase; and people with household incomes over $137,000 will see a reduction of $5.78 a month, according to estimates in a blog post by Severin Borenstein, public policy research associate with the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley. read more
The longtime suppliers to Whole Foods are complaining that the program called Responsibly Grown can grant a farmer who does not meet the stringent requirements for federal organic certification the same rating as an organic farmer, or even a higher one. Conventional growers can receive higher rankings than organic farmers by doing things such as establishing a garbage-recycling program, relying more on alternative-energy sources, eliminating some pesticides and setting aside a portion of fields as a conservation area.