Patt Morrison for August 26, 2010

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The fight started back in March when Anthem, the California arm of Blue Cross insurance plans, proposed a premium increase that could be as high as 39%, just as the health care reform debate was heating up in Congress. After a review by the state Insurance Department and some retreating by Anthem, approval was given late yesterday to raise rates by an average of 14%, and as high as 20%, for nearly 800,000 individual California policyholders. As long as insurance companies spend at least 70% of their premiums on medical care there isn’t much that regulators could do to block Anthem’s rate increases, although changes should be coming. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require insurers to get approval from the Insurance Department before raising premiums and the Obama Administration is looking at ways to give greater power to state insurance commissioners to regulate companies like Anthem. But it won’t come soon enough for hundreds of thousands of Anthem clients in California who will soon have to pay more for their healthcare.
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Republicans in Congress have threatened to strip it of its funding, strike down key parts or repeal it altogether; polls show that many Americans still don’t understand it or trust it; and insurance companies have responded to it by either raising premiums or pulling back policies geared toward children. The “it” in the above descriptions that seems to be so reviled and feared is the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care reform bill signed into law by President Obama earlier this year that is just now starting to be implemented. Part of the problem is the implementation process will take a full four years, plenty of time for opponents to mount all kinds of campaigns, from PR to legislative, to roll back the most offensive parts of health care reform. The Secretary of Health & Human Services is here to talk about the first pieces of the bill going into effect and the kind of impacts that health care consumers will begin to see.
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Today marks the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which established women’s right to vote. Tennessee was the 36th state to approve the amendment after calling a special session to decide the issue. The young man that cast the deciding vote was a legislator names Harry Burn who brought with him a letter that day a letter from his mother urging him to be a good boy and vote for ratification. Today we commemorate, celebrate and contemplate the women’s suffrage movement and also give a shout out to Harry T. Burn and his Mom.
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Is Google TV the future?

Imagine a world where you can watch anything you want anytime you want. The famous search engine wants to revolutionize the way we watch TV. It’s called, surprise, surprise, Google TV. The user would have to buy a special TV or a set-top box and a keyboard (the iPhone and Android phone work as well). The technology would give the user access to any TV show or movie in Google’s limitless storage capacity. The only hitch is Google TV needs content. Enter the big Hollywood movie studios. They haven’t been willing to hand over their vast libraries of programs. Why? Because a new business model hasn’t been established and it’s pretty unclear how the studios will profit off the deal. Google TV has the potential to be ad free (unlike Hulu or some of the other internet sites) and some industry executives worry that consumers may opt out of their cable and satellite subscriptions if they can watch TV for free on the internet. Hmmm…free TV or pay a cable bill?
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USC: University of Stripped Championships

After every great dynasty there is a sort of Revelations-like aftermath, usually consisting of losing seasons and consistent personnel/managerial changes. Rarely does the aftermath contain a retroactive punishment that causes a change in the history books. But that is exactly what is happening to USC and their legendary football program. Six years after winning the national championship, The Football Writers of America is stripping their title due to the infractions committed by the university and its students. Currently, the official 2004 National Title still belongs to USC, but the BCS could vacate the title as soon as the Trojan’s appeal process is complete. Can Trojan fans still consider the ’04 team to be one of the greatest in light of all this controversy?
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Continuing our series of conversations with California’s lawmakers, we talk with Congressman Xavier Becerra, Democrat from Los Angeles. As members of Congress get ready to go back to DC after their recess ends in early September, they're preparing to deal with a number of issues -- among them are the unprecedented rate of unemployment, the continuing economic downturn, immigration and foreign relations issues. To top it all, mid-term elections are rapidly approaching, elections which could make or break the Democrats’ House majority. Rep. Becerra weighs in on these issues and more, and takes your calls.
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