Southern California breaking news and trends

Federal judge: CalPERS must offer same-sex couples long-term care insurance coverage

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Photo by Paola Kizette Cimenti via Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge in Oakland ruled that CalPERS, the big state pension fund, must offer its long-term care insurance coverage --which pays for nursing home stays and assisted-living centers -- to same-sex partners and spouses, The Sacramento Bee reports.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The fund said extending coverage to gay couples would put the program's tax-free status in jeopardy, and in 2010 group of Bay Area state workers sued them, and the federal government

The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, a Republican group of congressmen, opposed the lawsuit. The Obama administration declined to defend the 1996 law, notes The Bee.

Wilken, in a 41-page ruling, said the ban on long-term care insurance "appears to be motivated by anti-gay animus." The provision in the federal law "violates the Constitution's equal protection guarantee," she added.

Her ruling wasn't a surprise. In a preliminary ruling in January, the judge indicated she believed the provision in the 1996 law was unconstitutional.


California is no. 1! (in dog bite insurance claims)

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Photo by Terence T.S. Tam via Flickr Creative Commons

California leads the nation in dog bite claims, says a report of 2011 statistics released Wednesday by State Farm Insurance.

With more dogs and people living in California than in any other part of the U.S., it's no great surprise that the Golden State would win Best in Show for the number of jaw run-ins.

With a 31 percent jump over the previous year, 527 claims were filed in CA in 2011, with victims receiving about $20.3 million, according to State Farm. 

A nationwide total of 3,800 bite claims paid out $109 million, compared to 3,500 claims and $90 million in 2010, said a spokesman for the insurance giant.

Overall, insurance companies paid a combined estimated total of $479 million for canine chompings in 2011, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In 2010, that number was estimated at $413 million.