Saturday, June 24, 2017


UCLA Investment Co. dropped support of venture capital firm tied to harassment accusations

The group that manages $2 billion of UCLA’s endowment had invested in a venture capital firm whose co-founder has come under scrutiny this week for allegedly unprofessional behavior toward women.

Six women, three of whom allowed their names to be used, came forward in a story in the Information saying that Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital made unwanted sexual advances as they tried to seek investment from his firm. On Friday, Caldbeck went on an indefinite leave of absence from the firm and apologized for “mistakes” over the years.

UCLA Investment was among many contributors to the $125 million in Binary Capital’s inaugural fund in 2014. But over undisclosed concerns with the management style of Caldbeck and his partner Jonathan Teo, UCLA Investment decided not to invest in the San Francisco firm’s second fund, which was raised last year. And it has no intentions of putting money into Binary Capital’s newest fund.

Joe Bryant, associate investment director for UCLA Investment, said her team had stepped up the amount of research it does before investing in venture capital firms. After this week’s revelations, among the questions she plans to bring up are whether venture capital firm founders have faced sexual harassment allegations.

“Folks should be a lot more careful when committing to first-time funds,” Bryant said.

Binary Capital didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Source: [scroll down]

UCLA Has Enough Problems Without Being Confused with CSULA

Only one problem with this headline: The article refers to CSULA, not UCLA!

The End (for now)

If you follow state news, you know that a single-payer health plan has been moving through the legislature, partly in response to current events in Washington, DC. There are various versions of "single payer" but generally it replaces private insurance carriers with a government-run insurance entity. Under any such play likely to be adopted in the U.S., hospitals, doctors, and other health providers would remain largely private. They would simply receive payments from the government insurance entity rather than, say, Blue Cross.

If California had gone ahead and created a single-payer plan, UC's various options would be replaced by the government-run insurer. Exactly what that would mean would depend on what the new insurer covered.

For now, however, the single-payer plan in the legislature, which was really more a concept that a detailed program, is dead:

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon put the brakes on a sweeping plan to overhaul the health care market in California Friday, calling the bill “woefully incomplete.”

Rendon announced plans to park the bill to create a government-run universal health care system in Assembly Rules Committee “until further notice” and give senators time to fill in holes that the bill does not currently address.

“Even senators who voted for Senate Bill 562 noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls, or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make SB 562 a genuine piece of legislation,” Rendon said.

Democratic Sens. Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins, who introduced the proposal, acknowledged the bill was dead for the year. Lara and Atkins had described the bill as a work in progress when it passed the Senate earlier this month without a funding plan. A legislative analysis pegged the cost at $400 billion.

The abrupt announcement shields members of the Assembly from having to take a difficult vote that could be used against them by critics or supporters of the policy...

Final note: The reference to the "cost" refers to the gross cost. Note that the proposed government insurer would collect as revenue what had been premiums paid to private insurers, either as taxes or some kind of alternative premiums. Probably, the key cost would be covering people who are uninsured, particularly if some replacement of "Obamacare" reduces or ends reimbursements from the federal government.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Remember the Anthem Data Breach that Affected UC?

Plaintiffs’ Counsel Announce $115 Million Proposed Class Action Settlement in Anthem Data Breach Litigation

June 23, 2017 03:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit over the 2015 cyberattack of health insurer Anthem, Inc., involving the theft of the personal information of 78.8 million people. The $115 million settlement, if approved by the Court, will be the largest data breach settlement in history. Attorneys from Altshuler Berzon, Cohen Milstein, Girard Gibbs and Lieff Cabraser were court-appointed to lead the representation of the plaintiffs in the litigation.

The proposed settlement provides for Anthem to establish a $115 million settlement fund, which will be used to 1) provide victims of the data breach at least two years of credit monitoring; 2) cover out-of-pocket expenses incurred by consumers as a result of the data breach; and 3) provide cash compensation for those consumers who are already enrolled in credit monitoring. In addition to the monetary fund, the settlement will require Anthem to guarantee a certain level of funding for information security and to implement or maintain numerous specific changes to its data security systems, including encryption of certain information and archiving sensitive data with strict access controls. The settlement is designed to protect class members from future risk, provide compensation, and ensure best cybersecurity practices to deter against future data breaches.

“After two years of intensive litigation and hard work by the parties, we are pleased that consumers who were affected by this data breach will be protected going forward and compensated for past losses,” said Eve Cervantez, co-lead counsel representing the plaintiffs in the Anthem litigation.

“We are very satisfied that the settlement is a great result for those affected and look forward to working through the settlement approval process,” added Andrew Friedman, co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel.

In early 2015, Anthem acknowledged that it had been the target of a cyberattack, in which the personal information of 78.8 million individuals was stolen, including, for many of those individuals: names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and health care ID numbers.

Over 100 lawsuits were filed against Anthem across the country and the cases were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California before Judge Lucy Koh, who appointed Eve Cervantez and Andrew Friedman as Co-Lead Plaintiffs’ Counsel, and Eric Gibbs and Michael Sobol to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

A motion for preliminary approval of the settlement was filed today by the Plaintiffs. Judge Koh is scheduled to hear Plaintiffs’ motion on August 17, 2017. If granted, the class members will be notified about the details of the settlement, and invited to participate in and comment on the settlement. For additional updates and information about the lawsuit and settlement, please visit the Anthem Data Breach Litigation Website.


Speech at Davis

UCD outlines free-speech policy

By Kimberly Hale | June 23, 2017 | Davis Enterprise

College campuses across the country are struggling with disagreements about how to allow freedom of expression on campus while maintaining safety for the speakers and participants. As a public university and one that has faced this issue over the past year, UC Davis has made this topic a priority.

Earlier this year, UC Davis Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter convened a working group composed of faculty, staff and students. He charged them with considering how the campus can ensure freedom of expression, personal safety and security of campus facilities while promoting an environment where all members of the community feel safe, valued, respected and heard.

The group established an online submission form for comments, ideas and opinions, including the option to submit anonymously. Their final recommendations were delivered to Hexter, offering a blueprint to allowing free expression while maintaining safety.

“Our obligation to uphold First Amendment freedoms is essential in our democracy and on our campus,” Hexter said. “While all expression is subject to time, place and manner restrictions, it cannot include silencing or blocking speakers, even if we disagree with what is being said.

“I appreciate the commitment demonstrated by the working group to gather feedback from a wide range of our campus community.”

Among the group’s recommendations, developed with input from the campus community, is a set of education events including interactive town halls and workshops; establishment and enforcement of specific disciplinary rules for those who disrupt campus events; increased coordination with the city of Davis and other law enforcement agencies in designing safety plans to ensure physical safety of participants; and creation of a standing Freedom of Expression Committee to engage the campus community in dialogue on freedom of expression issues.

Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the School of Law and chair of the working group, added, “This is a complex issue that our society at large will continue to grapple with for some time. These findings are an important and necessary first step to address issues that arise on our campus and to ensure that the fundamental rights of each member of the community are supported.

“I want to thank the working group for its hard work and dedication to constructive dialogue in analyzing these complex issues and coming up with a constructive report and recommendations.”

Hexter has asked UCD’s campus counsel to review the recommendations to determine any changes that may be necessary to campus policy in order to implement the recommendations.


Long-Term Lawsuit

Although UC employees are not under CalPERS, at one time when CalPERS began offering long-term care policies, UC employees were invited to take out the insurance. Long-term care is offered by various commercial insurance companies. But the problem is that a subscriber is inherently trusting such firms - many years in the future - to do right by them when they are not in a position to ensure compliance. The fact that CalPERS would be the offerer seemed to resolve that problem and a significant number of older UC employees subscribed. But then CalPERS substantially jacked up the premiums. Was it because they had low-balled to get participants? Or did they simply underestimate the costs? Whatever the answer, many subscribers either dropped the coverage or had to take cut-rate policies to lower the premiums. Now there is a lawsuit:  (from the Sacramento Bee)

A class-action lawsuit against CalPERS filed on behalf of more than 130,000 California government workers and retirees can move forward to trial, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

The lawsuit challenges a sharp increase in fees that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System levied on people who bought insurance for long-term health care through the pension fund. It argues that the rate hike was different in scale and purpose than any previous fee increase on those policy holders.

A lawyer for the group suing CalPERS cast the decision by Judge Ann Jones as a “very positive event moving forward to trial.”

It was “the largest obstacle standing in our way,” attorney Mike Bidart said.

The lawsuit stems from a series of rate increases that CalPERS adopted for long-term care insurance beginning in 2013, peaking with an 85 percent rate hike in 2015. People with those plans could have avoided the rate hikes if they dropped lifetime coverage and inflation protection policies that they also bought, according to documents cited by Jones in her ruling.

Bidart contends that the structure of the rate increases breached the contracts people signed when they bought the policies. Those agreements included assurances that rate hikes would be spread among those who bought long-term care insurance, and that people who bought inflation protection policies would not see their rates increase because of expanded benefits.

The judge wrote that structuring the rate increases in such a way that they deterred people from continuing lifetime care plans suggested that “a driving reason behind the 85 percent premium increase was to do away with the inflation protection and/or lifetime benefits.”

Her ruling followed motions from CalPERS to dismiss the case. CalPERS argued that the contracts allowed rate increases and that policy holders did not protest significant rates hike in 2003 and 2007.

Jones dismissed a part of the lawsuit that named individual members of the CalPERS Board of Administration. The lawsuit had claimed that they failed in their responsibility to effectively manage funds for long-term care policy holders. The remaining case centers on breach-of-contract claims.

Jones “did not rule on the merits of these claims, which CalPERS looks forward to disproving at trial,” CalPERS General Counsel Matt Jacobs said in a written statement.

Bidart said the lawsuit, known as Sanchez vs. CalPERS, likely will go to trial in the first half 2018.


Travel Ban


Newsweek  6-23-17

California has expanded the scope of a travel ban that took effect in January to include states that have laws discriminating against LGBTQ people.

The ban forbids state-funded travel to states that, since June 26, 2015, have enacted laws discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra added four more states to the travel ban on Thursday—Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas—doubling the number of the blacklisted states initially included in the legislation.

California’s AB 1887 legislation was signed into law in September 2016, after North Carolina passed the controversial “bathroom bill,” which barred people from using bathrooms in government buildings that do not correspond to their sex assigned at birth.

California enacted the bill in January under Becerra’s predecessor Kamela Harris. It originally included North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kansas but it provided for the Attorney General to update the blacklist as necessary. The four other southern states were added to the list after they passed legislation discriminating against sexual minorities and their families.

In Alabama, South Dakota and Texas, laws enacted in the past three months target prospective LGBT parents, potentially preventing them from adopting or becoming foster parents. In Kentucky, legislation SB 17, enacted in March, could allow student-run organizations in colleges and public schools to discriminate against classmates based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights. Sadly, that is not the case in all parts of our nation, even in the 21st century," Becerra said  in a statement. “Discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That's why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.”

California legislator Evan Low, who authored the original bill, praised Becerra’s decision. “AB 1887 was enacted to ensure our taxpayer dollars do not fund bigotry or hatred. Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s action today sends a strong message that discrimination beyond our borders will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.

Critics, however, believe the travel ban hurts students who need state funds to pay for their travel to those states for academic or athletic purposes. “The law is a juvenile but well-intended reaction to a real problem,” Mark Rivera, a UC Davis senior majoring in religious studies and cognitive science, told the L.A. Times in February. “Instead of discouraging travel to supposedly backward places, we should encourage travel; otherwise, campuses will become more insular and make the problem worse.”


Note: Because the ban applies to state-funded travel, UC academic travel funded by non-state external grants can occur. However, certain student and athletic travel is affected, according to an earlier report: