Here are the bills to watch in 2019 on health care affordability and access

By Sammy Caiola, The USC Center for Health Journalism Collaborative

Increasing Coverage

SB 29/AB 4

Introduced by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) / Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles)

These bills would extend Medi-Cal eligibility to all income-eligible adults regardless of their immigration status. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated last year that doing so would cost almost $3 billion. It would be a significant addition to the $20.7 billion in general fund money the state is expected to spend on Medi-Cal in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Gov. Gavin Newsom has instead advocated for expanding eligibility only to undocumented people age 19 through 25 for an estimated $250 million. Undocumented children up to age 18 are already eligible.

AB 526

Introduced by Asm. Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)

This bill would make it easier for eligible children and pregnant women in the federal Women, Infants, and Children program to enroll in Medi-Cal.

SB 260

Introduced by Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger)

This bill would require health plans to send notices to people who lose their coverage for any reason, and to inform them about Medi-Cal and Covered California. Plans must also provide a list of people who lost coverage to Covered California so the exchange can contact those who lost coverage directly. Hurtado says the bill will reduce coverage gaps when people’s income or other life circumstances change.

AB 1309

Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda)

This bill would extend the application period for Covered California by two weeks. Starting in 2018, most federally administered exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act shifted to a shortened enrollment period ending Dec. 15. In California, consumers have until Jan.15. This bill extends the deadline to Jan. 31.

AB 1063

Introduced by Asm. Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach)

Federal waivers allow states to find new ways to improve health care in exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. Last year, the Trump administration began allowing state exchanges to apply for waivers without explicit state legislative authority. Under the looser rules, health advocates are worried states will try to offer coverage that undermines the Affordable Care Act. Health Access and the Western Center on Law and Poverty are sponsoring the bill, which would prohibit Covered California from applying for a waiver without approval from the Legislature and the governor.

Making Insurance Cheaper

AB 174/SB 65

Introduced by Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) / Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)

These bills both would require Covered California to provide more financial help to low-income residents buying health insurance. Assembly Bill 174 would establish a tax credit beginning in 2020 for individuals who currently earn between 400 and 600 percent of the federal poverty level, or more than $48,000 a year for an individual and more than $100,000 a year for a family of four. These families are not currently eligible for Affordable Care Act tax credits. The Senate bill would require Covered California to implement premium contribution limits, while also reducing copayments and deductibles for people with incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

SB 175/AB 414

Introduced by Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) / Asm. Bonta (D-Oakland)

Both of these bills would establish an individual insurance mandate, including a state-level penalty for people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace the federal fine that disappeared beginning this year. Covered California would determine the penalty and who would be exempt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to use revenue from the fine to fund subsidies in Covered California. He anticipates it will generate $500 million a year.

AB 715

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

Currently, seniors who earn more than about $15,000 a year and are enrolled in the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program must pay a monthly out-of-pocket fee for medical services, even though most adults who earn up to roughly $17,000 a year have free Medi-Cal. This bill would reduce the number of seniors who have to pay the fee by raising the maximum income level for the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program to $17,000.

AB 683

Introduced by Asm. Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles)

Seniors in the Medi-Cal Aged and Disabled program are currently restricted to $2,000 in a bank account, or $3,000 for couples, because of something called the “assets test.” These types of restrictions were eliminated for most other Medi-Cal enrollees under the Affordable Care Act. Senior advocates say the rule requires seniors to deplete their assets in order to be eligible for health coverage, and that it disproportionately affects seniors of color. The bill would raise the limit to $10,000 for an individual, exclude certain items from the assets test, and eliminate the test for Medicare Savings Programs.

AB 1088

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

This bill affects seniors who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medi-Cal. These seniors sometimes lose their Medi-Cal coverage when the state begins paying their Medicare Part B premiums, because those payments bump them above the Medi-Cal income eligibility threshold. Wood’s bill would make it so the Medicare payment is not counted as income.

Combating Health Disparities

AB 318

Introduced by Asm. Kansen Chu (D-San Jose)

This bill aims to improve translations in the Medi-Cal program. It would require the Department of Health Care Services and Medi-Cal managed care plans to review translated materials for Medi-Cal beneficiaries for accuracy, cultural appropriateness and readability.

SB 464

Introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles)

The state’s health department is currently required to maintain a maternal and child health program, and the Office of Health Equity must track ethnic and racial health statistics on infant and maternal mortality, among other issues. This bill would require hospitals, birth centers and clinics that provide perinatal care to implement an implicit bias program for all providers, in an effort to reduce racial disparities. The providers would have to complete training at the outset, and a refresher course every two years. The bill would also change the way deaths of pregnant women are recorded on certificates.

Transparency

AB 537

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

This bill would require California’s Department of Health Care Services to create a rating system for Medi-Cal managed care plans. Advocates say the state should be holding plans accountable for improving quality and reducing health disparities.

AB 929

Introduced by Asm. Luz Rivas (D-Arleta)

This bill would require the Covered California board to make information on health plans’ cost reduction efforts, quality improvements and disparity reductions public. The board would have to post the data on its website annually in a way that “demonstrates the compliance and performance of a health plan, but protects the personal information of an enrollee.”

AB 731

Introduced by Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose)

Under current law, health plans offering individual or small group coverage must file information about total earned premiums and incurred claims with the California Department of Insurance or the Department of Managed Health Care at least 120 days before implementing a premium rate change. This bill would require plans offering large group coverage to do the same and would impose additional disclosure requirements.

SB 343

Introduced by Sen. Pan (D-Sacramento)

This bill would remove an exclusion in state law that allows certain health systems, including Kaiser Permanente, to keep some insurance costs and hospital financial information private. Under the bill, Kaiser would be held to the same data disclosure requirements as its competitors.

AB 1611

Introduced by Asm. David Chiu (D-San Francisco)

This bill would limit what hospitals can charge a patient, or the patient’s plan, for emergency care in cases where the hospital does not have a contract with the patient’s health plan. It’s an effort to stop what advocates call “surprise billing,” or hospitals landing patients with large and unexpected costs after providing care.

Drug Access

AB 1246

Introduced by Asm. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara)

This bill would require most large group health plans to cover medically necessary prescription drugs.

AB 824

Introduced by Asm. Wood (D-Santa Rosa)

Wood says brand name drug manufacturers sometimes enter into contracts with generic drug manufacturers, whereby the generic company delays marketing their version of a drug in exchange for payment. Wood’s bill would outlaw the practice.

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Live coverage of the 2019 LA Marathon

Live updates from the 2019 L.A. Marathon.

RELATED: LA Marathon freeway and street closures

Starting times: Wheelchair participants at 6:30 a.m.; handcyclers at 6:42 a.m., elite women runners at 6:45 a.m.; and elite men and the full field at 6:55 a.m.

The #LAMarathon route runs directly outside my apartment. Every year for 15 years, I’ve slept through it. But THIS TIME, yeah, I will continue to do that.The #LAMarathon Street closures have taken effect around the city. Here’s what you need to know to get around the road closures. loom.ly/mQ1AX9Q

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Will California get rid of daylight saving? Only time will tell

Daylight saving time began at 2 a.m. today, so let’s take a minute to talk about time.

Assembly Bill 7

After a failed attempt to end daylight saving time in California in 2016, Proposition 7 passed with 59.75 percent in favor of ending daylight saving time in 2018.

It’s going to take time before daylight saving ends in the state. AB 7 needs a two-thirds vote by the Legislature and must be signed by the governor, then will need to be approved by the federal government.

The state government is expected to vote on AB 7 this month.

Benjamin Franklin

1784

While on diplomatic duty in Paris, Benjamin Franklin became the first to suggest shifting clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall to save money on candles.

1916

On April 30, Germany became the first nation to enact daylight saving time to conserve electricity. The Germans were fighting World War I. The British followed their lead and introduced “summer time” a few weeks later.

70

The approximate number of countries that observe daylight saving time. They have about one-quarter of the world’s population. Most countries near the equator have no need to change time for more daylight hours.

2007

Daylight saving time is extended from the first Sunday in April in the U.S. to its current length, beginning the second Sunday in March and ending the first Sunday in November.

Daylight saving world

Hours in the day

By springing forward the clock, we’ll lose an hour. This chart shows the average amount of time per day Americans of various ages spend in selected activities. The data refer to all days of the week and were calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016.

 

how we spend our time chart

 

The long and short of it

With the clocks turning forward, you will lose 3,600 seconds of the day. Not much when you consider there are 86,400 seconds in a day.

The first clocks to have a second hand appeared in the 1750s.

Take an eon

In formal usage, eons are the longest portions of geologic time after what’s called an era. Less formally, an eon equates to 1 billion years.

Once in a blue moon

A blue moon happens on average about every 2.7 years. A seasonal blue moon is the third of four full moons in one season. The next seasonal blue moon is May 18.

The second of two full moons in the same month is also called a blue moon.

Just one zeptosecond

In 2016, researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany measured minute changes within an atom on the zeptosecond scale. It is the the smallest measurement of time ever recorded. How small? The number would be sitting 21 places behind the decimal point, or a trillionth of a billionth of a second.

time iconsIn a jiffy

A jiffy is a measurement in electronics, computing, astrophysics, and quantum physics. In physics, it is roughly the time it takes light to travel 1 centimeter in a vacuum, approximately 33.3564 picoseconds (a picosecond is one-trillionth of a second).

Fast as lightning

The bolt of lightning that moves upward travels at about 320 million feet per second, which is about one third the speed of light. Thunder is much slower and travels about 1,100 feet per second.

At the drop of a hat

Gravity accelerates at 9.8 meters per second, per second. A light object, such as a hat falling from about 6 feet, would travel approximately 7.67 meters per second and land in about .78 seconds.

In a heartbeat

The average heart rate is 72 beats per minute, when one heartbeat occurs every .83 seconds.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Smithsonian, U.S. Naval Observatory, California Energy Commission

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How Dr. Seuss and Read Across America day intersect

Success of Seuss

Saturday, March 2, 2019 would have been the 115th birthday of Theodor Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss. By 2015, Dr. Seuss’ books had been translated into 17 languages and had sold 650 million copies in 95 countries.

dr. seuss tribute

Above illustration by Kurt Snibbe, Staff

Theodor Geisel was a student at Dartmouth in 1925. He was caught by the dean with gin during Prohibition. In order to continue working at the school’s humor magazine, he adopted a pen name that used his mother’s maiden name, “Seuss.”

Dr. Seuss went on to become an editorial cartoonist during World War II, a film maker, legendary children’s book author and illustrator.

The National Education Association’s Read Across America honors Dr. Seuss’ birthday each year. Since Dr. Seuss’ birthday is on a Saturday this year, the NEA is having Read Across America on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Read Across America site has information on how to inspire kids to pick up a book and become lifelong readers.

Here is a chronology of Seuss books

list of seuss books

Seuss Museum

If you’re in the mood to travel to Springfield Massachusetts and a Dr. Suess fan, there’s a museum and sculpture park worth seeing. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum is devoted to Springfield native Theodor Geisel.

If you’d like to buy some Dr. Seuss artwork The Art of Dr. Seuss gallery in Chicago might be the place to start looking. The gallery is dedicated to selling paintings and prints by the artist.

Sources: Seussinspringfield.org, UCSD Library, Random House, Box Office Mojo, Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post and NEA

Charles Apple helped compile this report

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A look at our local raptors for backyard bird count weekend

BACKYARD RAPTORS

The 22nd annual Great Backyard Bird Count is underway and continues through Monday. To celebrate, we take a look at a few of the more prestigious raptors of California that have come dangerously close to extinction that you might find in your own backyard.

BALD EAGLE

Bald eagle

The bald eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for Native Americans. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the bald eagle was close to extinction in the lower 48 states with fewer than 30 nesting pairs in California, largely due to the use of pesticides. It has made a remarkable comeback with surveys showing that the state’s winter population exceeds 1,000.

eagle map

GOLDEN EAGLE

golden eagle face

Golden eagles are found throughout North America, but are more common in western North America. Little is known about the eagle abundance, but it is thought that numbers may be declining in some, if not all, parts of their range. Golden eagle abundance in California is unknown.

golden eagle map

PEREGRINE FALCON

falcon face

The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world, capable of reaching 150 to 200 mph in their dives when chasing prey. They were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century but have made an incredible recovery and are regularly seen in large cities and coastal areas.

WHITE-TAILED KITE

white tailed kite

The white-tailed kite earns its name for the way it resembles a kite in flight. With its body turned toward the wind and wings gently flapping, it hovers above the ground like a kite. The white-tailed kite was rendered almost extinct in California in the 1930s and 1940s due to shooting and egg-collecting, but they are now common again. Although their distribution is patchy, they can be found in the Central Valley and southern coastal areas.

kite map

BARN OWL

Barn owl face

While great stretches of the United States, from New York to Iowa, have seen a decline in barn owls since the 1950s, California maintains surprisingly robust populations due to the abundance of open space of natural grasslands and agricultural fields, where rodent populations increase significantly.

barn owl face

FLOCK TO THE WEB

Great Backyard Bird Count participants are asked to count birds for a minimum of 15 minutes on one or more days this weekend and report sightings online at birdcount.org.

You can see what birds are regularly in your area with eBird species maps.

 

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Wyatt Earp was a gunfighter, gambler and gung-ho for California

Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles 90 years ago Jan. 13, 1929. He is famous for his part in the O.K. Corral gunfight in Tombstone, Arizona, but lived most of his life and is buried in California.

It wasn’t until after his death that Wyatt Earp was glorified as a gunfighting lawman. During his life, only one film mentioned him by name, and Earp traveled the West mostly as a gambler, brothel owner/bouncer and boxing referee.

Earp collage

  • 1848: Wyatt Earp is born in Monmouth, Illinois. He is the fourth child of Nicholas and Virginia Ann Earp.
  • 1861: Wyatt Earp’s older brothers Newton, James, and Virgil join the Union forces for the Civil War. Some recounts say Wyatt Earp made several attempts to enlist at age 13.
  • 1864: The Earp family joins a wagon train heading to San Bernardino.
  • 1865: Wyatt’s Earp’s brothers come home from the Civil War. He helps his brother, Virgil Earp, as a stagecoach driver.
  • 1866: Wyatt Earp explores the West while hauling freight to towns in Arizona and California.
  • 1868: His father leaves California for Missouri. Wyatt Earp gets a job at a railroad company in Wyoming. During this time he referees boxing and picks up gambling.
  • 1869: He rejoins his family in Lamar, Missouri. His father retires as the town’s constable. Wyatt Earp takes up the position.
  • 1870: He marries Urilla Sutherland, who dies within the year.
  • 1871: Wyatt Earp and two others are accused of stealing horses in Arkansas. He avoids punishment by fleeing to Illinois, while the two others are acquitted.
  • 1872-74: He owns saloons, gambles and is arrested several times for his involvement with prostitutes.
  • 1874: Wyatt Earp helps a lawman in Wichita, Kansas, catch a wagon thief. The town hires him as a police officer.
  • 1876: He moves to Dodge City, Kansas, where his brother James Earp runs a brothel. Wyatt Earp becomes an assistant marshal. He also spends time in the gold rush town of Deadwood in the Dakota Territory.
  • 1877: His parents relocate to San Bernardino County.
  • 1878: Doc Holliday comes to the aid of Earp after a commotion breaks out in a saloon. The two become friends.
  • 1879: Jim Earp, Wyatt Earp and his former prostitute wife, Mattie Blaylock, move to Tombstone, Arizona, where his brother Virgil Earp has claims for silver mines and was hired as a U.S. marshal. They are later joined by brother Morgan Earp and Holliday. Wyatt Earp works for a stage line and then is hired as a deputy sheriff and tax collector.
  • March 1881: Wyatt Earp and a posse of lawmen go after a group who killed a stagecoach driver. They find and arrest only one.
  • Oct. 25, 1881: Ike Clanton, with ties to the stagecoach robbers, spends the night in Tombstone drinking heavily and making threats against the Earps.
  • Oct. 26, 1881: Tensions between the Earps and the cowboys result in the battle at the O.K. Corral. In a 30-second gunfight, Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp and Holliday face five cowboys. Three cowboys are killed (Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton). Virgil Earp and Doc Holliday are wounded.
  • Dec. 28, 1881: Virgil Earp is shot while walking into a saloon in Tombstone and his left arm is crippled for life. The shooter is not found but is suspected to be Ike Clanton.
  • March 18, 1882: Morgan Earp is killed. His wife and Virgil Earp take his body to Colton. Wyatt Earp forms a posse that seeks out and kills four of the cowboys suspected of Morgan Earp’s murder.
  • 1882: Wyatt Earp leaves Tombstone to join Virgil Earp in San Francisco. He meets up with an old acquaintance, Josephine Marcus. They head to Colton, where Virgil Earp takes part in the railroad confrontation called “the battle of the crossing.” Virgil Earp is elected Colton’s first marshal in 1887.

Virgil and Josephine

  • 1884: Wyatt Earp and Marcus roam the West (New Mexico, Idaho, and California) looking for gold and holding horse races.
  • 1888: The couple spend time in San Diego. Wyatt Earp referees and gambles while owning several saloons.
  • 1891: The couple return to San Francisco to be closer to her family.
  • 1897: After Wyatt Earp referees a boxing match in San Francisco in which corruption is claimed, he heads north to Nome, Alaska, and opens a saloon that makes a small fortune.
  • 1900: The couple split time between Seattle and San Francisco.
  • 1901: Wyatt Earp moves to Los Angeles, where he begins to advise the silent movie industry.
  • 1904: Virgil Earp joins Wyatt Earp in the boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada, and becomes a deputy sheriff. Virgil Earp dies of pneumonia in 1905.
  • 1906: Wyatt Earp resides in Los Angeles and Vidal, California, where he mines copper and gold.
  • 1920s: Wyatt Earp is an honorary deputy sheriff in San Bernardino County.
  • Jan. 13, 1929: Wyatt Earp dies in Los Angeles at 80. He is the last surviving Earp brother and participant in the O.K. Corral gunfight. His ashes are placed by Marcus in the Hills of Eternity, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, California.
  • 1931: Stuart N. Lake’s book, “Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal,” a largely ficticious story, portrays Earp as a heroic lawman.

How the West was spun

In 2010, AMC ranked the best Wyatt Earp movies. Here are the top three and who played Earp.

Wyatt Earp movies

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Does cost of living matter in retirement? Well, it matters when ranking best places to retire

So why do rankings of all sorts often vary widely?

View the creators of all those data-driven rankings like a chef.

Sure, selection and quality of ingredients matters — or, in this case, choosing the underlying economic and demographic stats that build a ranking’s metrics.

But it’s the recipe — how the ingredients are mixed — that can truly impact the final result. You know, a dash here. Or a pinch there.

Take retirement. How the complex concept of personal finances figures into a person’s location choice for their golden years is by no means a set number.

Did you save enough? Are you a heavy spender? What might medical costs be? All are fairly unique parts of any household’s happy-retirement recipe.

But recent, noble efforts of data crunchers at WalletHub, Bankrate and Kiplinger’s to gauge the states in terms of retirement livability factors help show how the statistical mix can alter a ranking’s outcome.

I used my trusty spreadsheet to combine this trio’s retirement rankings in order to give a composite picture of strengths vs. weaknesses. I reassembled their published ranking data — overall scores, subindex grades and related data — into three categories: cost-of-living; character (culture and climate); and care (healthcare and healthiness).

Imagine making the costs measurement doubly as important as the other two metrics. That’s probably good for folks who are carefully watching their retirement pennies.

Florida and South Dakota were the top two. Utah was third followed by Wyoming and Tennessee.

California was the ninth-worst state for retirement when personal budgetary items were given high importance. And New York and New Jersey were worst-to-retire-to states by this math.

On the other hand, there are folks who don’t worry much about money. Perhaps they have generous pensions or saved smartly (or were simply lucky).

Also, note what many studies of retirees’ views on their quality of life after employment reveal. Life’s intangibles — friendships, families, and health — are far more critical to seniors’ happiness than many of factors frequently used to study best-place locations.

So, what if costs weren’t part of the retirement math, just the character of a state and the quality of its senior care?

According to this formula, the top three states shift to Vermont then Hawaii and Maine. Vermont was No. 40 when costs were a double factor.

Meanwhile, Florida and South Dakota fall into a tie for eighth place when costs aren’t part of the recipe. Tennessee drops to No. 40.

And California, minus its well-known high expenses? The 15th-best state for retirees.

Have you checked out Bubble Watch …

Bubble Watch: Are house hunters shying from newly built homes?

Bubble Watch: Is California’s anti-business vibe killing the state’s economy?

Bubble Watch: Home-equity loans back at pre-recession levels

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22 people injured in Central California military base tent collapse

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT — Authorities say 22 people have been injured in a tent collapse at a Central California military base.

Spokeswoman Amy Phillips at Fort Hunter Liggett says the wind from the rotors of a helicopter that was landing blew over the tent about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Phillips says there were 22 injuries, most of them minor. She says four people were taken to hospitals. Earlier reports said up to 30 people were injured.

Fort Hunter Liggett is in Monterey County, about 170 miles south of San Francisco. The sprawling base is the largest U.S. Army Reserve Command post.

It’s currently holding an annual training exercise for thousands of Army, Navy, Air Force, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Canadian Armed Forces troops.

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California ranks sixth-worst state to retire to — or 15th best

California is the sixth-worst state to retire in.

Or 15th best.

That’s the confusing message from three recent state-by-state, best-to-retire rankings based on a myriad of economic and demographic stats.

Data crunchers at Bankrate and Kiplinger’s both ranked California No. 45 among the states for desirability as a place to live out one’s golden years. But statisticians at WalletHub placed California 30 notches higher!

How do you explain the gap? Well, let’s look at how California’s grades varied by those doing the rankings.

Remember, when it comes to rankings, beauty is in the eyes of the grader. My trusty spreadsheet — filled with retirement data and rankings of WalletHub, Bankrate and Kiplinger’s — found that even population counts display a deep statistical divide.

Yes, California has 5 million people aged 65 or older, the largest number of seniors in the nation. Certainly, that means something. But that flock equals only 12.9 percent of all Californias, the sixth-smallest share of 65-plus residents nationally. Are we young? Or unattractive to retirees?

Then look at the ranking divergence when it came to expenses. Yes, California’s expensive … but just how much pricier vs. other states is up for debate.

Bankrate found California third worst for cost-of-living and third-worst for its tax rates. But WalletHub scored California 14th worst for “affordability.” And Kiplinger’s noted California’s 65-plus households had a $65,904 average income, sixth-best among the states.

As for scoring conditions for care for seniors, Bankrate ranked California No. 19 for healthcare quality and No. 14 for well-being. WalletHub gave the state a No. 16 ranking for healthcare. And Kiplinger’s cited average healthcare costs for a retired couple of $430,867. That’s above a national average of $423,523 and 10th highest among the states.

Of course, California “cool” scored well. Bankrate gave the state a No. 14 ranking for the weather, No. 20 for culture, but 19th-worst for its crime. WalletHub ranked the state third-best for quality of life.

California appeared trickier to grade than other states as the three rankings had some agreement on the where-to-retire extremes.

Best states? Well, South Dakota made the top three among each surveyor: For Wallethub it was Florida, Colorado and South Dakota; Bankrate was South Dakota, Utah and Idaho; and Kiplinger’s list was topped by South Dakota, Hawaii and Georgia.

Worst states? New York and Maryland got double dings in the bottom-three grades: Wallethub (Kentucky, New Jersey, and Rhode Island); Bankrate (New York, New Mexico, and Maryland); and Kiplinger’s (New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland).

Here’s how the 50 states ranked in this trio of gradings for retirement quality, listed in alphabetical order …

State Wallethub Bankrate Kiplinger’s
Alabama 41 24 28
Alaska 30 36 42
Arizona 10 29 17
Arkansas 46 46 49
California 15 45 26
Colorado 2 17 11
Connecticut 34 35 20
Delaware 25 19 13
Florida 1 5 1
Georgia 37 37 45
Hawaii 42 11 5
Idaho 8 3 12
Illinois 31 44 46
Indiana 32 22 43
Iowa 4 16 9
Kansas 17 25 23
Kentucky 50 30 48
Louisiana 44 47 50
Maine 23 22 14
Maryland 38 48 41
Massachusetts 19 12 8
Michigan 29 14 21
Minnesota 11 28 19
Mississippi 47 10 36
Missouri 18 15 24
Montana 13 6 7
Nebraska 33 9 22
Nevada 16 42 38
New Hampshire 7 4 3
New Jersey 49 32 35
New Mexico 43 48 47
New York 40 50 40
N. Carolina 28 6 15
N. Dakota 24 20 27
Ohio 20 38 32
Oklahoma 36 40 44
Oregon 26 39 31
Pennsylvania 14 31 16
Rhode Island 48 34 34
S. Carolina 27 41 39
S. Dakota 3 1 2
Tennessee 35 21 30
Texas 22 17 29
Utah 9 2 6
Vermont 39 26 10
Virginia 5 13 4
Washington 21 43 33
W. Virginia 45 33 37
Wisconsin 12 26 25
Wyoming 6 8 18

Have you checked out Bubble Watch …

Bubble Watch: Are house hunters shying from newly built homes?

Bubble Watch: Is California’s anti-business vibe killing the state’s economy?

Bubble Watch: Home-equity loans back at pre-recession levels

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If pump prices take their seasonal tumble, will that save the gas tax?

If California gasoline prices tumbled before Election Day, would you change your mind about a ballot initiative that calls for the repeal of the state’s new gas tax?

Last November, the state upped the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon to help fund roadway repairs, improvements and other transportation projects. Let’s politely say the new tax wasn’t warmly greeted: Come November, Californian voters will decide on a proposition calling for the reversal of the tax.

But even without the new tax Californians would probably be cranky about gasoline these days. Pump prices have been on the rise for two years, largely due to rising crude oil prices. But I wonder if the historically predictable post-July Fourth decline in fuel prices will make a difference, voting-wise.

It’s odd to me that in a state where almost everyone complains about traffic, so many folks seemingly don’t want to pay for road improvements.

Well, at least pay through a higher gas tax.

Form the start, California’s new gasoline tax was on rocky ground. The state has long been one of the priciest places to buy gasoline — with already high taxes, a long-running refinery shortage, and environmental requirements to use pricer-but-cleaner formulas in the summer.

So, the new tax gave the opponents a great battle cry: Highest gas taxes in the nation — depending on who’s doing the ranking.

Also, implementation of the tax — one big levy – runs counter to how other states have increased gasoline taxes: in smaller increments spread out over several years.

Plus, explaining the spending plans for the tax revenue has been challenging. And how do you argue that the tax is only one part of why pump prices are up?

Global energy markets haven’t been kind to drivers or the tax hike’s proponents of late. A price rollercoaster in gasoline’s main ingredient — crude oil — has whipsawed what you paid at the pump.

During much of the economic recovery from the Great Recession, crude oil prices ran well above $80 a barrel. Beginning in 2014, a glut of oil hammered energy markets. As a result, crude oil prices plunged to well below $40 a barrel by 2016. Since then, a price reversal has put crude oil around $70 a barrel.

And to date, while California gasoline is priced well below 2012’s record peak, drivers started this summer paying the most in four years.

Not an outlier

Just so you know, California isn’t the only state raising gasoline taxes.

As 2018’s second half starts, drivers in seven states face just-raised taxes on fuel, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

In fact, 27 states nationwide have increased gasoline taxes in the past five years – with Missouri voters facing an Election Day choice to become No. 28 with a gas-tax hike on their November ballot.

The underlying rationale for these tax hikes — spanning both red and blue states – is a relatively recent realization that more funds are needed for transportation projects. So who’s upped gas-taxes, mid-2018?

Oklahoma: The first time in 31 years, the state’s gas tax rate rose — up 3 cents to 19 cents per gallon.

South Carolina: Up 2 cents as part of a 12-cent hike that will be slowly phased in.

Indiana: Up 1.8 cents, based on a formula tied to inflation and gasoline prices.

Maryland: Up 1.5 cents, based on a formula tied to inflation and gasoline prices.

Tennessee: Up 1 cent, part of a phased-in hike that will total 6 cents.

Vermont: Up 0.42 cents, based on gas prices.

Iowa: Up 0.2 cents for fuels that are not blended with ethanol.

Nebraska: Cut by 0.4 cents under a formula tied to fuel prices and infrastructure spending. (Note: its fuel taxes are 1 cent higher than last year.)

‘Tis the season

California gasoline prices may have hit their peak for the year.

I tossed 23 years worth of pump prices, statewide and nationally, into my trusty spreadsheet to remind myself of gasoline’s strong seasonal pricing trends: On average, fuel is cheapest in January, peaks in late spring, then begins an ascent that lasts the rest of the year.

Using a government index — tracking all grades of gas by the Energy Information Administration — I found California gasoline prices are typically most affordable shortly after the new year begins. The same is true nationally, even if drivers elsewhere pay less for fuel.

Why the relatively predictable ups and downs?

Well, the typical year starts with less travel following the holiday rush. So, demand for gas falls. Plus, many folks are watching pennies, post-New Year’s, after overly generous gift giving. Remember, gasoline use is economically cyclical, too.

Those wintertime gasoline bargains are short-lived, though.

History tells us California prices rise relatively slowly but continually through mid-May. Driving — that’s demand for gas — increases, then there’s the switch to cleaner-but-costlier summertime fuel mixtures. And household budgets are replenished after holiday bills get paid off.

Since 1995, statewide gas prices on average peaked in mid-May – 20 percent above the lows of early January. So this year’s 50-cents-a-gallon jump to $3.70 — January low to May peak — was actually a below-average upswing (just 16 percent).

But this isn’t just a California thing.

Nationally, January’s price bottom is followed by a slow increase in prices that runs to early June. But the national index grows only by 18 percent, on average, from the wintertime low to the springtime high. (And in 2018, low-to-high was a 15 percent increase to $2.92 a gallon.)

Of course, historic cyclicality also suggests prices will fall for the remainder of the year as the summertime driving peak ends and the gasoline sold reverts to a more traditional (and cheaper) mix.

Apply historical pricing patterns to California gas prices as of July 2, and you’ll see drivers paying 23 cents a gallon less by Halloween, just before Election Day. Then, they’d save another 23 cents a gallon by Christmas. So, my formula says $3.16 at year’s end — a total 15 percent drop.

Will that make a difference in how people vote on the repeal-the-gas-tax initiative?

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