According to a press release from the Calif. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, ten non-approved private health insurance websites have been shut down. Harris stated, “These websites fraudulently imitated 'Covered California' (the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.” Harris added, “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
The complete press release appears below including a list of the deactivated sites and tips on how not to get caught up in health coverage scams.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the removal of ten private health insurance websites that misled Californians by imitating Covered California, the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Attorney General Harris also released tips to help consumers avoid insurance scams.
“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” Attorney General Harris said. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”
In September, the California Attorney General’s office began an investigation into websites that imitate the state’s Covered California website (www.coveredca.com). Multiple website operators were sent cease and desist letters informing them that their websites were in violation of state law and demanding the immediate removal of the website or transfer of the domain name to the state’s official exchange.
These websites were operated by private health insurance brokers or companies that were not affiliated with Covered California. The websites have domain names similar to the state’s official healthcare exchange and contain unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name. In several cases, websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”
The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange. (Gov. Code, § 100510.) State law also prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17533.6), the use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to another entity (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17525), making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17500) and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200).
To date, all website operators who have been contacted by the Attorney General’s office have complied, and the following websites have been either deactivated or redirected to the official exchange website:
The California Health Benefit Exchange is charged with implementing the ACA and is the operator of California’s online health insurance marketplace known as Covered California. California consumers who purchase health insurance policies through this marketplace receive protections guaranteed by the ACA that may not exist in policies outside of the exchange.
Health insurance plans sold outside the official exchange on the individual market before January 1, 2014 do not qualify for federal subsidies and do not have the guarantees provided by the ACA’s consumer protection provisions. Major consumer protections include: no denials based on preexisting conditions; no rating differences based on factors other than age, geography, and family size; issuers may not impose any annual dollar limits for covered services; and all qualified plans must cover essential health benefits identified under the ACA.
The California Attorney General’s Health, Education and Welfare Section, in conjunction with Covered California and the California Department of Insurance, will continue to monitor these and other potentially fraudulent sites.
To avoid scams related to California’s health insurance marketplace, Attorney General Harris has released the following tips for consumers:
- California’s only official health insurance marketplace is www.coveredca.com, which is where individuals, families and small businesses can get information, compare plans and enroll.
- Be wary if you receive a call from a representative claiming to be a government official asking for your personal information like Social Security number or Medicare card number. You should not provide personal or financial information over the phone and should instead contact Covered California directly.
- If you are approached by someone offering assistance from Covered California, verify that they are a Certified Enrollment Counselor by asking to see their required ID badge or by contacting Covered California directly.
- Never pay someone for assistance with healthcare enrollment. Free enrollment assistance is available by contacting Covered California directly.
- If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, please report it by contacting Covered California directly or by filing a consumer complaint with the California Attorney General’s office at: http://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company
Assistance by phone is also available in the following languages:
Update March 4, 2014 - Elan Firpo launched her election campaign for Humboldt County District Attorney last Thurs., Feb. 27, 2014 in Eureka. Firpo's platform includes strengthening the management of prosecutors, in the D.A.'s Office, and focusing on serious crimes in collaboration with law enforcement.
Hear more on Firpo's campaign launch in the report below submitted by Daniel Mintz and aired by Kerry Reynolds on the KMUD Local News Mon., March 3, 2014.
Update: Feb. 17, 2014 - So far four candidates, Allan Dollison, Elan Firpo, Maggie Fleming and Arnie Klein, have entered the 2014 race for Humboldt County District Attorney after last November's announcement, by sitting D.A., Paul Gallegos, indicating that he wouldn't run for another term. Gallegos was first elected to the office in 2002. During the last election cycle, he faced three challengers: Allison Jackson, Paul Hagen and Kathleen Bryson.
KMUD News Correspondent, Daniel Mintz, aired reports on the campaigns as they kicked off, and those audios, candidates photos and website links appear below, as does the original post made after Arnie Klein, the first candidate to enter the race, made his announcement.
The submission below, from Daniel Mintz covering the Dollison campaign, aired on the KMUD Local News Jan. 21, 2014.
The news piece below was submitted by Daniel Mintz and aired on KMUD Local News Jan. 29, 2014
See the original post below on the D.A race, including KMUD News audio on Arnie Klein candidacy
The 2014 race for Humboldt County District Attorney received some added interest last Wed, Nov 13 when Arnie Klein came out of retirement to announce his challenge to incumbent D.A. Paul Gallegos. Klein served as Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney from 2006 until he retired from that position in 2012. According to his election web page Klein, "...has served as deputy district attorney in four California counties and has built a legacy of championing social justice, whether for the indigent or the high profile. His convictions have gone beyond the confines of the courtroom and into the community where he has created educational programs that changed the way sexual assault victims are treated throughout the country."
Klein's experience, before joining the Humboldt County D.A.'s Office, ranges from working as a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles, as well as in Tulare County, to serving as senior trial lawyer in the Monterey County District Attorney’s office.
Daniel Mintz attended Klein's candidacy announcement event and submitted the news piece below, which aired on the KMUD Local News Wed., Nov. 13, 2013.
- Arnie Klein's facebook Page
- Times Standard Article on Klein's retirement
- Recent North Coast Journal article on Klein
The photo below was taken by Daniel Mintz at Klein's annoucment event
Update: Nov. 18,2013 - Sixteen-year-old Katie Helberg, previously reported to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office as a runaway juvenile at risk due to medical concerns, was found yesterday (Sun., Nov. 17) in good health, according to a press release from HCSO.
The original post on this story appears below.
According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Katie Helberg (shown in the photo), a 16 year old white female, was reported missing from her home in Eureka on the morning of Sat., Nov.9. Her family reported that she has health issues and requires medication.
Katie is further described as: approximately 5’4” tall, 130 pounds, with blue eyes and long blond straight hair. She wears braces on her teeth that have purple and green rubber bands on them. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black t-shirt with an “Alaska” logo on the front, and was wearing tennis shoes. Anyone with information about this missing person is asked to call: the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or Detective Greg Musson at 707-268-3643. The complete press release can be viewed below.
HCSO press release, dated Nov. 14, 2013::
On 11-10-2013, at approximately 8:45 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing 16 year old female, Katie Helberg. Katie’s mother reported she last saw Katie at home in Eureka during the morning of 11-9-2013. Katie has health issues and needs medication. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would appreciate the public’s help in locating her.
Katie Helberg is further described as follows: 16 years old, white female, approximately 5’4” tall, approximately 130 pounds, she has blue eyes and long blond straight hair. She wears braces on her teeth. The braces have purple and green rubber bands on them. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black t- shirt with “Alaska” logo on the front, and tennis shoes.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or Detective Greg Musson at 707-268-3643.
Update - Fri., Nov. 15, 2013: According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, at around 1:00 p.m. today Michael Gabriel’s mother notified Hoopa Tribal Police that Michael had returned home. A Hoopa Tribal Police Officer met with Michael and his parents and found that Michael was in good health and had left his residence voluntarily.
The original post on this story appears below.
Thirteen year old Michael James Gabriel (shown in this photo provided by his parents) has been missing since Fri., November 8, 2013 and might be staying in the McKinleyville area, according to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office. Michael was last seen leaving his home in Hoopa.
Michael is described as follows: Native American, 13 years old, 5’ 3” tall, approximately 115 pounds, brown hair and brown eyes. If you have any information about this missing boy, please call: the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539. The press release appears below.
HCSO press release, dated Nov. 14, 2013:
On 11-13-2013, at approximately 10:40 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a missing 13 year old male. Family and school officials reported Michael James Gabriel 13 years old has been missing since November 8, 2013 and was last seen leaving home in Hoopa. He is possibly staying in the McKinleyville area. Due to his age he is considered a high risk missing juvenile. The Sheriff’s Office would appreciate the public’s help in locating Michael.
Michael James Gabriel is described as follows: Native American, 13 years old, 5’ 3” tall, approximately 115 pounds, brown hair and brown eyes
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
As many water districts struggle with increasing costs of loans and infrastructure improvements, customers are faced with increased rates. Crescent City Water District is now facing this issue and will discuss their plans to raise water rates at a special 6 pm meeting Tues., Nov.12 at the Flynn Center in Crescent City. The proposed increase will be 60% the first year with smaller percentages each successive year for five years.
Use the player below to hear more on this this story in a news piece submitted by Sharon Wolff from the Rio Dell Times.com. This piece aired on KMUD Local News Mon., Nov. 11, 2013.
Terry Houser, 28 from Eureka (shown in photo), reportedly stole a radio-controlled helicopter from RC Hobby Tech in Eureka and then fled, on foot, running across 5th street where he was struck by a pickup truck. Houser was taken to Saint Joseph Hospital by ambulance where he was reported to be in stable condition with multiple abrasions, broken teeth, and a broken right femur. Houser, who is currently on probation for grand theft and vandalism, will be charged with theft. The complete press release appears below.
Eureka Police Department Press Release, dated Nov. 8, 2013:
On 11/7/13 at approximately 4:46 p.m. Eureka Police Officers were dispatched to 5th Street and E Street to the report of an injury traffic collision between a truck and a pedestrian.
Upon arrival officers found a white 2006 Ford F350 that was blocking the far right lane of 5th Street. Officers located a pedestrian lying in the far right lane of 5th Street in front of the Ford. The driver of the Ford was identified as forty-one year old Bryan Sanderson of McKinleyville. The pedestrian was identified as twenty-eight year old Terry Houser of Eureka.
Based on the driver’s and witnesses’ statements, Houser fled on foot southbound onto 5th Street, outside the crosswalk, in front of eastbound vehicle traffic, after stealing a radio controlled helicopter from RC Hobby Tech, located at 411 5th Street. Sanderson drove the Ford eastbound in the far right lane of 5th Street through the intersection of E Street on a green traffic control signal, when Houser ran in a southwest direction into the far right lane of 5th Street in front of the Ford. Sanderson was unable to stop the Ford before striking Houser.
Houser was transported to Saint Joseph Hospital by ambulance where he was determined to be in stable condition with multiple abrasions, broken teeth, and a broken right femur. Houser is on felony probation for grand theft and vandalism. Houser was recently released from the Humboldt County Correctional Facility after a felony theft related conviction. A warrant declaration will be submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office due to Houser committing a theft from RC Hobby Tech.
Alcohol or drugs did not appear to be a factor in the collision. The investigation into this collision is still ongoing.
Atmospheric Rivers (AR) are long corridors of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere. They usually appear at altitudes of about one mile above the earth's surface, flowing for thousands of miles, and on average are 400-600 km wide. ARs can create extreme rainfall and floods, disrupt travel, trigger mud slides, and cause catastrophic loss of life and property.
According to a Jan. 2013 Scientific American article, this atmospheric phenomenon was discovered about 15 years ago and given the name "atmospheric river" by researchers Yong Zhu and Reginald Newell who, "...noticed an odd feature in simulations of global wind and water vapor patterns that had been made by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOOA) website, "Most flooding events that occur along the west coast of North America in winter are associated with the landfall of AR conditions." Although ARs can be detected by satellite instruments, a specialized atmospheric river observatory, or ARO, (see photo above/credit NOOA) has been developed which includes instrumentation uniquely adapted for capturing AR data. The Eureka Office of the National Weather Service, on Woodley Island, is slated to receive an ARO this coming January.
Just before Halloween KMUD News traveled to Woodley Island to learn more about Atmospheric Rivers and AR observatories.
Use the player below to hear this story, submitted by KMUD Community Journalist Bob Froehlich. This piece aired on KMUD Local News on Tues., Nov. 5, 2013 and includes interviews with National Weather Service Meterologist in Charge, Nancy Dean, and Mel Nordquist, Science and Operations Officer.
The entire 25 minute extended interview can be heard below.
Mobile AR Observatory. Credit: NOAA
- Scientific American article-"The Coming Megafloods"- Jan. 2013
- NOOA Atmospheric River Page
- Atmospheric River Smashes Records in Pacific Northwest-Climate Central.org
- Mysterious Atmospheric River Soaks California, Where Megaflood May Be Overdue-Scientific American Blogs
- ARkStorm: California’s other "Big One"
Photos/top to bottom: entrance to the NWS Woodley Island Facility, view of the facility's "Command Center", and meterologists Mel Nordquist and Nancy Dean.
The Nov. 5, 2013 Humboldt County election includes elections for the following positions:
-Bridgeville School District Governing Board Member
-Eureka City Schools Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 1
-Ferndale Unified School District Governing Board Member
-McKinleyville School District Governing Board Member
-Northern Humboldt Union High School District Governing Board Member
-Redwoods Community College District, Trustee Area 2
-Manila Community Services District Governing Board Member
-McKinleyville Community Services District Governing Board Member
-Arcata Fire Protection District Governing Board Member, Division 1
-Arcata Fire Protection District Governing Board Member, Division 2
According to the County's Election Website, one measure will also appear on the ballot as shown below:
Fieldbrook Glendale Community Services District
Vote YES or NO
SPECIAL TAX FOR FIRE PROTECTION AND EMERGENCY SERVICES
Shall a special tax be levied for fire protection, emergency medical services and an expansion of the fire house by the Fieldbrook Glendale Community Services District of $75.00 per assessor's parcel in Zone Two (2) in the District, such tax to continue for ten (10) years? If passed the special tax will supersede and replace the existing assessment.
In preparation for the upcoming election, students from the Humboldt Regional Occupational Program produced interviews with candidates for the Eureka City Schools Board of Trustees. The interviews were recorded in Access Humboldt's Community Media Center.
Click here for a link to the interviews.
On March 5, 2013 county staff presented, to the Humboldt County Board of supervisors, a draft for a proposed county ordinance that would regulate the outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana. Click here for the KMUD News web post on that meeting and here for a pdf version of the March 5 draft document. After hearing the presentation, the Board recommended public input be solicited on the draft proposal, and that was done in April by holding several public meetings.
The input from those meetings was reported back to the BOS on May 7, and at that time the Board voted to refer the proposal back to the Medical Marijuana Subcommittee to be reviewed and revised in two separate parts: Neighborhood Impacts and Environmental Impacts. The subcommittee worked with staff to develop a draft that would, "...curtail the neighborhood-level impacts of outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana.", according to a report delivered to the BOS on Tues., Oct. 22, 2013, by County Administrative Officer Phillip Smith-Hanes. The resulting draft proposal titled, Update on Potential Ordinance Regulating Neighborhood Impacts of Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation futher states that, "The Subcommittee selected an approach of amending the County's zoning ordinance to define outdoor cultivation as a nuisance on small properties unless specified requirements are met." Click here for the Update Document.
Use the player below to hear a report on the Tues. BOS meeting submitted by Daniel Mintz and aired on KMUD Local News on Wed., Oct. 23, 2013.
Click on the Video Player below to hear the Smith-Hanes Presentation to the Board.
Two victims, both Humboldt State University students, were stabbed at a residence in the 1500 block of Stromberg Avenue, Arcata on Sun. Sept. 29. The suspect was described by witnesses as a white male adult in his early 20's, wearing a white long sleeve thermal shirt, a black baseball cap and a long silver chain around his neck. The suspect fled the scene in a silver vehicle (unknown make or model) prior to the arrival of police. The police are asking for the public's assistance in locating the man shown in the photo above, who was present at the time of the incident and may have information critical to the case. The Arcata PD press release appears below.
Arcata Police Department Press Release, dated Tues., Oct 22, 2013:
The Arcata Police Department is requesting assistance in identifying witnesses to a stabbing that occurred on September 29th, 2013.
On 9/29/2013 at about 2:00 am, the Arcata Police Department responded to a residence at the 1500 block of Stromberg Avenue for a report of a stabbing that had just occurred there. Upon their arrival, officers learned that two male victims had been stabbed. The victims, both Humboldt State University students, were transported by friends to Mad River Community Hospital for emergency treatment. Once at the hospital, officers learned that one of the victims sustained one stab wound. The other victim sustained multiple stab wounds.
The suspect was described by witnesses as a white male adult in his early 20's, wearing a white long sleeve thermal shirt, a black baseball cap and a long silver chain around his neck. The suspect fled the scene in a silver vehicle (unknown make or model) prior to the arrival of police.
During the course of the investigation, detectives developed information that the individual in the attached photo was at the party at the time of the incident and may have information critical to the case.
The Arcata Police Department requests that anyone who recognizes the man in the photo or any person(s) who may have witnessed the incident contact Detective Chris Ortega. The investigation is on-going and assistance is being provided by the Humboldt State University Police Department.