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A trip to the emergency room may not allow you a choice of hospital and if your insurance will cover out-of-network providers. But Tuesday, the State Assembly Committee on Health passed legislation to change that, making sure patients only pay their co-pay and deductible, even at an out-of-network facility, and cap the amount hospitals can charge out-of-network. Nicki Pogue ended up at an emergency room with bronchitis and says she had a massive bill, calling it “balance billing”, and says that’s unconscionable.

"When you are suffering from life-threatening symptoms, the last thing you should be thinking about is whether or not your hospital is considered in-network. To receive a bill for $13,000 – that, you know I was responsible for $10,000 of – was stunning."

Pogue gave input for the legislation. Hospital networks have said the changes outlined in A-B 1611 would be a major blow to their finances.

After five months of fighting, Pogue’s insurance company paid her bill. But she says many other patients face financial ruin for something they couldn’t control. Pogue hopes changing the law would spur insurance companies and hospitals to negotiate lower rates.

"It gives room for the insurance companies and the hospitals to meet somewhere in the middle, and to cut the patient out of it. I mean, that’s the problem, right now – the patient is in the middle, and if you don’t have the resources to fight it, you get left holding the bill."

Tag: A-B 1611 now goes to the Appropriations Committee.

Two men accused of robbing a Subway sandwich shop in Ukiah late last year have been arrested. Ukiah police say 20-year-old Dorian Coon of Willits went to the Subway with a bunch of teenagers, demanded cash and threatened two employees with a possible firearm. The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office says it was actually a BB gun but Coon was still charged with robbery, kidnap for robbery and false imprisonment. They say his accomplice, 19-year-old Alexander Romero, also from Willits is charged in the case too. A customer in the restaurant shot Coon, but they’re not identified or charged in the case. They had 3 teens in the car waiting for them. The duo finally arrested for the December caper and held on $450,000 bail each.

A man from Laytonville who died in a solo car crash on the 101 has been identified. The California Highway Patrol reports Kristopher Linsdau was killed after his Chevy Tahoe, which witnesses say was traveling at a high rate of speed Saturday morning missed a curve and went off the highway. His Tahoe overturned and Linsdau was ejected from the vehicle. Officers say he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and died from his injuries.

A homeless man from Ukiah’s been arrested after police say he hit a woman in the head with a rock. Police say they got a call Saturday morning near Safeway on Main Street after reports a white Mercedes tried running down a man with red hair. When officers were on their way there were more calls about a woman being attacked nearby. They found the red-haired man, identified as David Maupin and arrested him for assault with a deadly weapon, mayhem, and violating his probation. Witnesses say a woman was trying to walk across the street when Maupin hit her, then another man came up and hit Maupin with a rock and knocked him down, ripping part of his ear off and fracturing his rib. The woman had a major injury to the back of her head, but was treated at the scene and released.

A busy weekend for Lake County law enforcement. The Easter holiday weekend featured some arrests in Clearlake and Clearlake Oaks for driving and gun-related incidents. The Record Bee reports while a patrolling deputy was out Sunday afternoon he saw a black BMW in Clearlake Oaks on Highway 20 passing a tractor trailer over double yellow lines, driving about 100 miles per hour and took chase, the BMW reported stolen then crashed after the driver lost control. Austin Schweitzer of Lakeport seen running from the car was on probation and arrested here again. This time for felony evading and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Elsewhere, Clearlake Police arrested a man for having a partially concealed gun while a convicted felon. That guy was arrested for the concealed firearm and resisting arrest.

The final tournament of the year at Clear Lake for Crappie fishermen. The Clear Lake Crappie Association with the tournament Saturday at Redbud Park in Clearlake. The winners get $1,000 if the field reaches 75 teams. Over the last month several anglers report catching pretty big crappie, around 3 pounds or more. There are also family friendly events the day of the tournament, a free kids fishing derby.

Volunteers are invited to come help repair fire damaged recreation facilities and trails in Cow Mountain. The Bureau of Land Management Ukiah Field Office with Friends of Cow Mountain working this weekend in the South Cow Mountain OHV Management Area all day Saturday and Sunday, starting at 8 a.m. The area’s been closed ever since the Mendocino Complex fires. They’re putting in new trail markers, signs, digging new culverts and erosion control features; constructing barriers; repairing and working on trail maintenance and completing trail surveys. It means some hiking, digging, hauling and moving rocks and other heavy items. Those who want to stay over night can camp there.

A Senate committee has voted to move a measure forward to require those building homes to make it tougher to get them approved in high risk fire areas. If it is approved, it would mean developers have to increase fire protections, plan for evacuations, and local governments would be required to build homes with materials less likely to catch fire. It comes after the Camp Fire last year and the October firestorm of 2017. Some developers are against the legislation saying it would make housing production too expensive, and that fewer homes would end up being built. But lawmakers are trying to move legislation forward to protect vulnerable homes and meet housing construction needs. Last year the state’s retiring chief firefighter said homes shouldn’t be built in high risk areas, but Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said he’s against that.

Rent control advocates at it again. The initiative the Rental Affordability Act could go to voters next year. Something similar failed last year. Now some argue again it would discourage producing new rentals and make the housing shortage worse, but those supporting the idea say more rent control would help the state’s most vulnerable tenants so they don’t get priced out of their homes.

A proposed bill to keep bars open until 4 AM in some Calif. cities another step closer. It would give the cities including Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and West Hollywood the ability to extend last call hours from 2 a.m., where it is now, to 4 a.m. instead. It wouldn’t mean these cities automatically change the last call time, but they’d have the ability to, if they wanted to. There are many other cities across the U-S with similar laws including Chicago, Washington, DC, New York City and Las Vegas.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors has given unanimous approval to the Habematolel Pomo Tribe’s proposal for a community center in downtown Upper Lake to be in federal trust. The tribe applied with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for a transfer to a trust so the US federal government will act as a trustee and hold the legal title on behalf of the tribe. The community center would be in the old Westamerica Bank Upper Lake branch. The tribe bought the building from Hospice Services of Lake County in 2016.

A short list of proposed road improvement in the City of Clearlake is going to the state. The City Council is considering which projects to sent to the send for approval. Plus they’ll discuss city staff’s road maintenance plan for the coming season. The meeting tomorrow night starts with a closed session to talk over proposed and current litigation against Pacific Gas and Electric and for a conference with labor negotiators. During the regular meeting, which starts at 6 PM, there will be a list of road projects to be funded from the state out of a 54 billion dollar state fund.

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