March 11, 2009
California regulators said Monday that insurers must provide speech, occupational and physical therapies to their autistic members but rejected pleas to require insurers to cover the cost of behavior therapy that aims to help patients live in society.
At issue is so-called applied behavior analysis, a therapy that teaches patients skills such as self-feeding and stopping injurious behaviors such as head banging. The therapy can cost as much as $70,000 a year per patient.
Parents of children with autism have argued in lawsuits and in complaints to regulators that insurers, by refusing to pay for an array of autism care, are ignoring the Mental Health Parity Act. The 2000 state law requires insurers to treat mental conditions the same as medical conditions.
Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S., more prevalent than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. There are an estimated 185,000 Californians with autism.
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
You can drive into this dusty fleck of a town near the Texas-Louisiana border if you’re African-American, but you might not be able to drive out of it—at least not with your car, your cash, your jewelry or other valuables.
That’s because the police here allegedly have found a way to strip motorists, many of them black, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Instead they offer out-of-towners a grim choice: voluntarily sign over your belongings to the town, or face felony charges of money laundering or other serious crimes.
More than 140 people reluctantly accepted that deal from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with any crime.
Read Article: Chicago Tribune
The U.S. Supreme Court gave new life to two lawsuits faulting Pfizer Inc. and a GlaxoSmithKline Plc unit for failing to warn that their antidepressants might cause suicidal tendencies among adult patients.
The justices today told a federal appeals court that rejected the suits to reconsider in light of last week’s Supreme Court decision giving patients more ability to sue drugmakers. The suits are being pressed by relatives of a woman who killed herself after taking Glaxo’s Paxil and a man who committed suicide after taking Pfizer’s Zoloft.
The two antidepressant suits, among hundreds drugmakers have faced, will test the reach of a high court ruling that upheld a $7 million award against Wyeth over an anti-nausea drug. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline say their case is different because the Food and Drug Administration had specifically considered and rejected the idea of suicide warnings for adult patients.
Read Article: Bloomberg
Thousands of mostly Latino workers will share in an $8.5-million settlement with a national construction firm they had accused in a class-action lawsuit of violating California’s wage and hour laws, attorneys in the case said Tuesday.
The workers, most of whom did not belong to a union, installed insulation, rain gutters and fireplaces, said Todd Jackson, one of several attorneys representing the more than 3,100 employees.
The suit alleged that Masco Contractor Services Inc. and its California subsidiaries, Western Insulation and Schmid Insulation Contractors, failed to pay the workers for a full day’s work when warranted.
“We’re very satisfied with this settlement,” Jackson said. “We think it’s a very good deal for the workers and pays them back for some hours which we alleged that they were not paid for.”
Read Article: Los Angeles Times
An Irving-based Internet dating site will pay $1.5 million in refunds to the lucky and not-so lucky in love who were charged fees after they canceled their memberships.
Under an agreement filed Friday, True.com will compensate customers who were incorrectly charged for services since 2003. Customers were incorrectly charged membership fees after canceling their accounts or after accidentally clicking on links, according to the federal lawsuit filed in the Northern District of Texas.
The agreement still must be approved by U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey before the refund process can begin, said Jonathan Tycko, an attorney representing plaintiff Thomas Wong.
Wong filed the lawsuit in June 2007, claiming he was billed at least three times by True.com after trying to cancel his membership. He claimed the company violated state and federal laws. The company charges members $49.99 per month to communicate via the Internet with single men and women.
Read Article: Denton Record Chronicle
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