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ARIZONA The insurance department continues to implement new oversight of benefit plans, which make use of Health Care Service Organizations (HCSOs). Bulletin 2006-07 outlines the department’s interpretation. www.id.state.az.us/bulletin.html

CALIFORNIA Just prior to his election as lieutenant governor, Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi ordered a workers comp premium rate cut of 9.5%, arguing the reduction corresponds with reduced permanent total disability claims. A San Francisco health benefit mandate is challenged by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association—says it’s a violation of ERISA. The Health Access Program requires employers with 50 or more workers to pay a fee into the fund for each hour an employee works. The mandate requires that employees already offering health coverage, but not spending at the minimum level, be required to contribute the difference to the new program. A law requiring employers to pay workers comp death benefits to estates in California is ruled unconstitutional by the appellate court. www.insurance.ca.gov/

COLORADO A contract dispute between UnitedHealthcare and HCA/HealthONE that disrupted employee benefits markets is over. Insurance Commissioner David Rivera commended his staff, hospital systems and doctors for “stepping up to the plate” to minimize patient disruption during the contract dispute. On Sept. 1, 2006, when the contract terminated, HealthONE facilities were no longer considered “in-network” for UnitedHealthcare and PacifiCare enrollees. In most circumstances if enrollees went to a HealthONE facility they could be responsible for a more expensive, out-of-network rate. Under the contract agreement, this will no longer be the case. www.dora.state.co.us/insurance

FLORIDA Commissioner Kevin McCarty approved an amended rate filing from the National Council on Compensation Insurance to decrease workers comp rates by 15.7% beginning Jan. 1. www.floir.com/

GEORGIA New, more stringent requirements for filing asbestos injury suits are not retroactive for cases already filed, the State Supreme Court rules. Under a new law, claimants are required to show asbestos exposure was a substantial contributing factor to their medical condition. www.inscomm.state.ga.us

IDAHO Bulletin 06-04 lists eligible surplus lines insurance entities. www.doi.idaho.gov/laws/06_4.pdf

KANSAS Commissioner Sandy Praeger wins reelection to a second four-year term. www.ksinsurance.org/

KENTUCKY For the sixth consecutive year, Kentucky Access, the state’s high-risk health insurance pool, has received an “unqualified annual audit” from the Auditor of Public Accounts. An unqualified audit means auditors found no “material weaknesses” or instances of noncompliance in the program. Kentucky Access, operated as a division of the Kentucky Office of Insurance (KOI), offers coverage to about 3,800 Kentuckians who are unable to purchase health insurance in the regular market due to high cost health conditions. www.doi.ppr.ky.gov/kentucky/

LOUISIANA Commissioner Jim Donelon was sworn in Oct. 25 following his September election. Donelon served as the appointed commissioner from February until a special fall election. www.ldi.state.la.us/

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