The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for August, 2009

Conflict of Interest between shareholders and patients?

Posted by progressivethink on August 30, 2009

This is a great video showing in a simple-to-understand way why a public option is needed in the healthcare reform. It also brings up the legal question of whether the duty publicly traded health insurance companies have to their shareholders inherently conflicts with the duty of care required towards patients.

As the video points out, it is clear that public traded health insurers have a duty to their investors to maximize corporate profits. How do insurance companies realize a profit? By taking in more in insurance premiums while simultaneously lowering payouts to plan participants for medical care. It logically follows that health insurers are required to deny as much coverage as possible in order to satisfy their fiduciary duty to their investors. On the other hand, by denying medical coverage to post huge profits, does this violate the duty of care towards the patient?

It’s an interesting thought, which is why I believe that either a government option should be provided (a provider that doesn’t need to use money that could be funding coverage to issue profit for shareholders) OR all health insurers should be required to be non profit corporations. Either of these options would prevent the inherent conflict between the duties to patients and the fiduciary duties to shareholders.

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Call for BrightCoasters

Posted by brightcoast on August 30, 2009

It’s the time of year when the academic year is beginning anew, and everyone is in probably the best mood of the semester, much better than come finals time anyway. Thus, capitalizing on the bright eyed ambition many of us face before long hours of studying darken our souls once again, we are looking for some new bloggers. We’re aiming for two, but amazing wit may persuade me otherwise.

Qualifications: USD Law student (any year), progressive politics, ability to write coherently and interestingly, must write consistently on own prerogative (around 2-3 times a week), sense of humor and sarcasm, basic computer/interwebz skills.

If this sounds like you, then send an email to brightcoast@gmail.comwith 2-3 sample entries and a brief personal statement about yourself. See about TBC for examples. Entries will be accepted until the slots are filled.

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Gender Discrimination in CA Healthcare

Posted by brightcoast on August 28, 2009

I received the email below. I can’t say that I’m surprised, let’s face it, women this age are of childbearing age, meaning insurers may have to pay up for prenatal care, etc. Not only do they charge more, but pregnancy is also considered a pre-existing condition not subject to the normal rules for prior coverage. Good to know there’s a bill in the Senate.

Dear Brighcoast,

Should California women pay more for health insurance simply because of their gender? No! But, it’s happening. A recent study revealed that California women aged 18-54 are paying as much as 39% more than men for identical individual health plans.1 Next week, California Senators will have an opportunity to support AB119, a bill that would end this discriminatory practice. Tell your Senator to make healthcare coverage more equitable and affordable for women in California!

This practice of “gender rating” is prohibited by both federal and state law for group insurance plans, such as those provided by employers. But it is legal for insurance companies to charge men and women who buy individual plans or get coverage as part of a small business different rates. Ten states have already prohibited gender-based pricing of health insurance and continue to have strong health insurance markets, and we need to as well.2

This is significant because this “gender rating” practice affects many women who need to buy individual health coverage when they have lost their employer-based coverage after getting laid off during the economic downturn. Additionally, even many employed California women are seeking individual plans as employers reduce health coverage. In fact, California has one of the country’s lowest rates of employer-sponsored health coverage and employer-sponsored coverage has been declining for low-income families faster than for others.3,4 So coverage provided by the individual market is often the only option people have. Send an email to your California Senator now!

Thanks for standing up for equality and healthcare!

P.S. We are grateful to our colleagues at the National Women’s Law Center for their work on this important issue! Check out their website: www.nwlc.org/reformmatters

CITATIONS [1] National Women’s Law Center, “Nowhere to Turn: How the Individual Health Insurance Market Fails Women,” http://action.nwlc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=nowheretoturn

[2] Kaiser Family Foundation website, http://www.statehealthfacts.org, statistics for 2006-2007, regarding health insurance statistics for all 50 states.

[3] Kaiser Family Foundation website, http://www.statehealthfacts.org, statistics for 2006-2007, regarding health insurance statistics for all 50 states.

[4] Urban Institute, “Snapshots of America’s Families 3, Changes in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Coverage,” http://www.urban.org/publications/310849.html

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RIP

Posted by brightcoast on August 26, 2009

The man, not the band. NY Times index here.

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Fiji Water

Posted by brightcoast on August 25, 2009

Article here about Fiji water and it’s impact on the environment, not just the plastic. I’ll admit, conceptually it seems strange to drink bottled water, especially when you know the impact of the plastic bottles alone. But when you know how polluted the San Diego water is, it makes it easier to do. Also, I can’t stand the taste of the water here, NorCal water, no problem. I think it’s definitely something you become accustomed to when you are growing up. Like I can’t imagine living next to a cow farm, for example, whereas people who grow up there probably don’t understand what the big deal was in Spur Industries.

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The New “Coach”

Posted by brightcoast on August 22, 2009

No longer merely content with life coaches, some celebrities facing jail time are now hiring “prison coaches.” E.g. I find this fascinating. It obviously makes sense to hire someone familiar with “the inside” to prepare you for common scenarios you may face in prison, and perhaps a few basic self defense moves. I do wonder, however, if word gets around that you merely hired one such person, you become even more doomed than before.

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I can’t not post this

Posted by brightcoast on August 21, 2009

http://abovethelaw.com/2009/08/san_diego_law_doug_wacker.php?show=comments#comments

I won’t comment because I have very strong feelings about this, based on things not in the article, but I will say USD needs to strongly reconsider the way it handles things.

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Facebooker quiz

Posted by brightcoast on August 20, 2009

This reminds me of this.

My Result:

“Chances are you are a popular resident of Facebook whose updates are interesting to read. Keep posting!”

Of course, haha.

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2010 US News Rankings – Top Colleges Edition!

Posted by demkid on August 19, 2009

In the spirit of this blog being one of the first to break the law school rankings earlier this year, I can do my best to follow suit with the less-thrilling college rankings, even though it’s only 6 hours before they’re officially released online.  Unlike the law rankings, it seems like the college rankings never have position changes of more than 1-2 spots from year to year.  Pretty boring.  Anyway, here’s the thread someone posted earlier this morning on a discussion site called College Confidential.  No big shockers, but I’m pleased to say that my alma mater, the University of California, once again comes in as the number 1 public university in the country.  Go Bears!  By the way, US News is totally biased against publics, and that’s why we’re always hovering around #21 overall with the sixth-best peer assessment score.  The Top 25:

1. Harvard
1. Princeton
3. Yale
4. Caltech
4. MIT
4. Stanford
4. UPenn
8. Columbia
8. Chicago
10. Duke
11. Dartmouth
12. Northwestern
12. Washu – StL
14. Hopkins
15. Cornell
16. Brown
17. Emory
17. Rice
17. Vanderbilt
20. Notre Dame
21. Berkeley
22. Carnegie Mellon
23. Georgetown
24. UCLA
24. UVA

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W.

Posted by brightcoast on August 19, 2009

Started watching the latest Netflix arrival, W., last night. Probably the last for a while, once the semester gets started next Monday. Still have about half to go.

My thoughts thus far, Josh Brolin is amazing, as he was in Milk and No Country for Old Men, also fantastic films. However, there are two glaring critiques I have. First, no matter how much I dislike W. it is hard for me to believe that this is an accurate depiction–Brolin really makes you hate the character. Second, while he does an over the top job of creating a life-like detestable republican, he delivers complex lines at lightning speed, also unlike the man he is supposedly portraying.

On the positive side, I really like Elizabeth Banks as Mrs. Bush, and Dreyfussas the detestable and incredibly sinister Cheney. Powell, Rice, and Rumsfeld seem to be the “voices of reason” in the film, however the portrayal is more akin to what I would imagine it would be like having Democrats in the Cabinet, due to their sometimes over the top disagreement with what is being proposed, especially Powell.

The Torture Memo even makes an appearance.

ETA: The first half was much more interesting than the second. Not sure when the film was finished, but with Operation Iraqi Freedom as the focal point, there’s not much more they could (did) develop.

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Words of Wisdom from TMZ

Posted by brightcoast on August 18, 2009

In case you hadn’t heard already, Jerry O’Connell is attending Southwestern starting this fall.

When Harvey Levin, the attorney who now “hosts” the entertainment “news” show TMZ heard this (albeit on air), he commented that O’Connell should not become a lawyer for 3 reasons, roughly:

1) Lawyers sit behind a desk all day and thus develop large rear ends;

2) You can make a lot more money playing a lawyer on t.v. than you can actually being a lawyer; and

3) If you’re a lawyer everything turns grey, your hair, your skin, even your suit– to which Jerry replied that he used spray tanning, so he should be ok.

I have another reason to add, don’t become a lawyer because we don’t need the job competition!

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Trouble for Boxer in 2010?

Posted by demkid on August 17, 2009

Just read this article in today’s Mercury News.  It includes a quote from Bruce Cain, my favorite political science professor at Cal.  The article discusses whether Senator Barbara Boxer could be in trouble next year if she goes up against Carly Fiorina, the ex-chief of Hewlett-Packard.  I really don’t know a whole lot about Fiorina at this point, and the election is upwards of 14 months away, but it’ll be interesting to see where the polls are if and when she gets into the race.  I think any moderate Republican (especially in the first term of a Democratic president) can do very well against a liberal Democrat in California, even though we’re a pretty center-left state, dominated by Democratic politicians.  Arnold has succeeded here, for example.  I’m not the biggest fan of Senator Boxer, and given a choice between her and a moderate (regardless of party), the decision might be a difficult one to make.  We’ll just have to see how “moderate” Fiorina actually is, and if issues like choice will automatically eliminate her in my book.

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Torture Memo Architect Returns to Boalt

Posted by demkid on August 17, 2009

Just saw that CNN has a correspondent outside UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall (School of Law) today, reporting on protests by alumni, students and others against the return of John Yoo to the classroom.  Yoo worked for the Bush administration from 2001 to 2003, when he helped craft legal theories for water torture and other harsh interrogation techniques.  A good article on Yoo’s return to Berkeley is on the Harper’s Magazine website today, and is found here.  I first learned about Yoo in my constitutional law class, when we watched an episode of PBS’s Frontline called Cheney’s Law.  You can watch the episode here, and I’d highly recommend it if you have some spare time.  It won a 2007 Peabody Award.  It’s brief description:

For three decades Vice President Dick Cheney conducted a secretive, behind-closed-doors campaign to give the president virtually unlimited wartime power. Finally, in the aftermath of 9/11, the Justice Department and the White House made a number of controversial legal decisions. Orchestrated by Cheney and his lawyer David Addington, the department interpreted executive power in an expansive and extraordinary way, granting President George W. Bush the power to detain, interrogate, torture, wiretap and spy — without congressional approval or judicial review.

Probably a good piece to refer back to once Cheney’s memoirs come out, which should be interesting by themselves for supposedly attacking President Bush.  In any case, I didn’t realize that Yoo was actually in some legal trouble.  He’s the subject of a pending criminal investigation in Spain, his torture dealings could be examined by a special prosecutor appointed by the Attorney General, and a Justice Department professional responsibility report could open Yoo up to disciplinary action by bar associations.

The CNN report said that there is currently a long waitlist for Yoo’s civil procedure class for the Fall semester.  We’ll just have to see if there are any disruptions once that class gets underway, similar to the disruption Yoo encountered in the Spring, when he taught at Chapman University:

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

New USD Prof Blawg

Posted by brightcoast on August 17, 2009

Edited by our Dean & written by 4 of our distinguished profs. Blog here, info about the writers here.

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NFL Blackout Rules

Posted by brightcoast on August 15, 2009

Though I’m admittedly not much of a sports fan, I have grown accustomed to tuning into the occasional Charger’s game, and even more rarely a Padres game. Today, however, the Charger’s game wasn’t broadcast live due to the NFL blackout rules. Thus, as any bored law student would do, I suppose, I googled what exactly these “blackout rules” were exactly. What I discovered was quite interesting.

Turns out, prior to 1973, in order to ensure ticket sales & attendance, etc. all NFL games were “blacked out” from their home venues, regardless of whether or not they sold out at any point in time. This applied to all games, including the Superbowl. This policy was upheld in court to the extent that Congress actually passed a law requiring a new standard, whereby if the game sold out 72 hours prior to the game, then the blackout would not apply, and the game would be broadcast.

You can read more about the incredibly lucrative NFL rights here (much more extensive then you might think).

As an aside, according to the caricature of OJ on Family Guy, you can’t record an NFL game without the express written consent of the NFL. Leave it to fox cartoons to teach you something.

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