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CALIFORNIA Gov. Schwarzenegger wants 4.8% surcharge on all residential and commercial property insurance to help pay for state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection budget. It would begin Jan. 2011 and is non-deductible on tax forms. >> Several changes have been made to workers comp regulations. The state workers comp fund must make a website to help determine if a worker has workers comp coverage. The experience mod formula has been revised and will likely change employer ratings based on the number and size of losses and the employer’s payroll. There is a new 0.1924% surcharge on all state workers comp policies incepting on or after Jan. 1, to fund Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. >> Commissioner Steve Poizner says commish position too politicized now; should return to being appointed by governor. Poizner, of course, is running for that seat.

FLORIDA John Askins promoted to director of Division of Insurance Fraud. He is 30-year veteran of the division and returns from retirement to take the job.

HAWAII Latest in string of states looking to tap insurance pool for state budget. Wants to take money from Hurricane Relief Fund to pay for education needs.

IDAHO Certain claimants with health policies written or renewed effective Jan. 1, are now able to appeal denials. The Department of Insurance will facilitate external review of denied claims for treatment not considered medically necessary by the insurer or because the carrier says the treatment is still in an investigatory phase. Consumers must go through the health insurer’s internal appeal process first.

ILLINOIS Adopts law to give patients the right to submit health insurance claims denials to independent review as of July 1. Claimants must go through the internal insurer grievance process unless there are risks to a person’s health or treatment. The review must be completed within 20 days after receipt of request. Expedited reviews are possible. >> State Supreme Court strikes down 2005 law capping damage awards against doctors and hospitals for pain and suffering, which were set at $500k and $1 million, respectively.

KENTUCKY State Supreme Court rules that monies from private or public-private funds cannot be used to pay for general budget needs. The state can, however, suspend funding of such accounts and use that saved money for general purposes. The Workers Compensation Funding Commission has welcomed the ruling.

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