Today’s News: California unveils Obamacare coverage; Leimert Park gets light rail station; Clean(er) beaches

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Obamacare. California has taken a big step toward compliance with Obamacare. The state’s new health insurance exchange has announced the plans – and the prices – that will be offered to those seeking individual insurance policies under the federal healthcare law.

As many as five million uninsured Californians are expected to seek coverage when Obamacare takes effect next year. The exchange will begin enrolling customers in the fall.

State officials selected plans from 13 companies. Most consumers will have about five plans to choose from. Premiums will range from nothing to almost $700 a month, depending on a subscriber’s income, age, where they live and the plan they select.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, as the health exchange is known, says that contrary to the claims of critics, the coverage is affordable. “These plans have reached out to doctors, to medical groups and hospitals to come together to offer competitive prices with rich benefits with very good networks.”

Most of the state’s largest insurers will participate in the exchange, but some companies have elected to sit on the sidelines, for the first year, at least, and wait to see how the system works. Sacramento Bee

Defending deputies. The Sheriff of Kern County says deputies who were caught on videotape beating a suspect who later died acted properly. Sheriff Donny Youngblood cited autopsy results concluding that David Silva, a 33-year-old, father of four, died of hypertensive heart disease. Youngblood said that deputies who hit Silva with batons after he resisted arrest avoided his head and neck. And he said Silva was stoned on drugs and alcohol. The May 8th beating raised questions of police brutality and prompted the Kern Sheriff to request an independent investigation by the FBI. An attorney for Silva’s family says it’s hard to believe the baton blows and bites from a police dog did not contribute to Silva’s death. Bakersfield Californian

L.A. budget. The L.A. City Council has tentatively approved a $7.7 budget for the new fiscal year beginning in July. The last budget of the Antonio Villaraigosa era includes a previously agreed to 5.5 percent pay raise for some 18,000 city workers. Outgoing city councilman and Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti joined the unanimous vote in favor of the budget, but he said this should be the last raise city workers see for a while. L.A. Times,0,7234222.story

Leimert Park victory. They’re holding a party this morning in Leimert Park. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas are expected to be on hand as community activists celebrate a decision by the MTA Board to build a light rail station in the neighborhood. The $80 million underground station will be built on the Crenshaw Line, which is scheduled for completion five years from now. Activists fought for years to get a station in Leimert Park. Advocates say it will help revitalize L.A.’s historic African-American business corridor.
L.A. Observed

Ballot boosting. There’s been a lot hand-wringing among local pols over the meager turnout in this week L.A. city election. Preliminary counts show fewer than 20 percent of eligible voters cast votes. State Senator Kevin DeLeon says the solution is to hold city elections at the same time as presidential elections, when turnout is usually much higher. The idea is not a new one, but it’s getting a new look in light of the disappointing turnout Tuesday. The L.A. City Clerk’s office, however, says the city’s voting systems cannot accommodate such a large ballot. L.A. Times

Beach grades. If there’s a silver lining to Southern California’s lack of rainfall, you can find it at the beach. Most of the region’s coastal areas received good to excellent ratings for water quality in the latest report card from Heal the Bay. Rainfall sends a lot of garbage and bacteria into the Pacific Ocean, but there hasn’t been much of it this year. The list of beaches getting A-plus ratings includes Hermosa Beach, Cabrillo Beach and The Wedge in Newport. Avalon Beach in Catalina and Doheny Beach in Dana Point both got Fs. Heal the Bay