Don’t Miss the 10th Anniversary Issue of Consumer Connection

CC_Fall_15_FLWBR7B-1Our special issue celebrates 10 years of consumer news. In line with our previous years’ Consumer Connections, this issue features articles that help consumers stay informed about the latest trends and scams.

Read about acupuncture and the health benefits it can provide, plus information and news about LASIK surgery, consumer warnings about reverse mortgages, how to get your finances in order for the coming year, 3-D printing at home, and more. This fall issue also reports on the latest news regarding the prescription drug abuse epidemic and holiday shopping scams.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

Covered California enrollment open through Jan. 31

covered-california-bus-el-cajonCovered California, the State’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, kicked off the open enrollment period with a statewide bus tour. The tour began in San Diego and ended at the Tower Bridge and the State Capitol in Sacramento stopping in large cities and small towns on its 38-stop, 2,000-mile journey.

Covered California is spotlighting enrollment because an estimated 2.2 million uninsured State residents remain eligible to get help to make their insurance affordable by enrolling in either Covered California or Medi-Cal. An estimated 750,000 uninsured Californians could enroll through Covered California.

This year, Covered California has more than 500 storefront locations Statewide where individuals can get help enrolling—that’s twice the number of locations that were available at the start of last year’s open enrollment. Although the enrollment period ends January 31, 2016, the exchange is encouraging consumers to sign up before December 15 to ensure they have coverage beginning January 1.

Those who need insurance can go to CoveredCA.com to learn about their options and find locations in their community where they can get free, confidential help enrolling.

National Preparedness Month: Don’t Wait. Communicate.

shutterstock_209851783The recent Northern California wildfires may have you thinking about what you would do in case of an emergency. Are you prepared to evacuate if necessary? Do you have a plan for you, your family and your pets?

September is National Preparedness Month and it’s the perfect time to plan for an emergency situation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following:

Make a disaster kit: Create a disaster kit that includes food, water, and medications in sufficient quantities to last for at least 72 hours.

Make a plan: Create a plan to communicate with your family in case of an emergency. Have important contact information that includes phone numbers, email address and medical information.

Pick a meeting location: When you identify a meeting location for your family, decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite in case you are separated.

  • Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.

Examples of meeting places:

  • In your neighborhood: A mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house.
  • Outside of your neighborhood: A library, community center, place of worship, or family friend’s home.
  • Outside of your town or city: A home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.

Practice: Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans, and meeting place after a disaster. Then, practice just as you would for a fire drill.

Use the FEMA App: FEMA has a free mobile app for Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices available in English and Spanish that offers:

  • Tips on surviving disasters, and ways to customize your emergency checklist and save meeting locations.
  • Receive alerts form the National Weather Service.
  • Locate open shelters and Disaster Recovery Centers.
  • Upload and share your disaster photos.
  • Stay connected on social media and to the FEMA blog.
  • Go to www.fema.gov/mobile-app

For more information about disaster preparedness, visit www.ready.gov.

Attorney General Harris Offers Safe Shopping And Donating Tips

With the holidays comes shopping and donating – and the increased risk of becoming a victim. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has issued tips for safe shopping and charitable giving during the holiday season. Check out the recent press release here.

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News from Covered California: Open Enrollment Is Here!

Covered CA Logo

Do you have health insurance?  Do you know someone who needs health insurance? If so, Covered California has good news – Covered California open enrollment starts November 15, 2014 and lasts until February 15, 2015.

This is your opportunity to compare health insurance plans for yourself, your family, or even your business.  Covered California is also the only place to get financial assistance for health care coverage. Covered California makes it easy – by going to www.CoveredCA.com you can compare available plans and also see if you qualify for low-cost or no-cost Medi-Cal.

Covered California is the state health insurance exchange, established under the Affordable Care Act. For more details and information about Covered California and open enrollment, please visit the Covered California website at www.CoveredCA.com.

DCA Wins Big at the SiOC Awards

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L-R Cristina Valdivia Aguilar, June Vargas, Monica Vargas, Laura Kujubu

The Department of Consumer Affairs Communications team took home 10 awards at the Annual State Information Officers Council’s (SiOC) Excellence in Government Communications Awards.

SiOC holds an annual awards contest to highlight the “best of the best” in state public information. Awards are presented for work done in the previous calendar year. This year’s awards were presented at a luncheon today in Sacramento. Members of the Department’s Office of Publications, Design & Editing and Office of Public Affairs were on hand to accept the following awards:

GOLD

Category: Brand Identity Project/Program
Carol Stover
Veterinary Medical Board Identity Project
http://www.vmb.ca.gov

Category: 3C Brochure or Pamphlet
Hazel Alig, Jean Bricarello
Success Starts Here (BPPE)

SILVER

Category 1C—Feature (2 silver awards)
Jean Bricarello
Battle of the Bulbs: Spotlight is on Saving Energy
Consumer Connection, Spring 2013

Monica Vargas
Time Out on Youth Pankration
Consumer Connection, Fall 2013

Category 3B, Magazine
Carol Stover, Jean Bricarello, Cristina Valdivia Aguilar, June Vargas, Monica Vargas
Consumer Connection, Summer 2013

Category: Best Bang for Your Buck
Carol Stover
BPPE Welcome to California Postcard

Category 2, Special Report
Aris Bajar, Jean Bricarello
Division of Investigation: DCA’s Law Enforcement Arm

Category 4A, Video: Training or Education
Bryce Penney, Monica Vargas
Guide Dog Etiquette for Restaurants

HONORABLE MENTION

Category 3A, Newsletter
Aris Bajar, Jean Bricarello
BEARHFTI Bulletin

Category 3D, Publication: Other
Aris Bajar
The Department of Consumer Affairs: Who We Are and What We Do

 

DCA Investigator Honored

Division of Investigation (DOI) Investigator Frank Root received honors from DCA Director Denise D. Brown and the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Hearing Aid Dispensers Board for his work in the investigation and arrest of San Luis Obispo hearing aid dispenser Aaron Marquis and his wife, Anja, last October.

DOI had received a complaint from the Board alleging that Marquis was falsely advertising that he held a PhD in Audiology. The complaint also alleged that Marquis was also practicing as an Audiologist and was illegally billing for his services.

Over a period of three years, Root served subpoenas, search warrants, and temporary restraining orders, and worked with informants, victims and allied agencies. The investigation uncovered fraud that exceeded $500,000, involving numerous insurance providers and more than 140 patients—many of them senior citizens

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Root’s investigation led to the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office filing charges on  22 felony counts and two enhancements on both Marquis and his wife. The two were convicted of felony violations of grand theft and a pattern of related felony conduct and insurance fraud, which included private insurance companies, Medi-Cal and Medicare insurances. In addition, Marquis was sentenced to 365 days in jail and five years’ probation, and his wife was sentenced to 13 days in jail and five years’ probation.