SLO County Roundup

South County

Caltrans is inviting South County residents to a public meeting Dec. 15 at which its officials are to discuss a proposed new center divider barrier along Highway 101 between Traffic Way in Arroyo Grande and Los Berros and Thompson roads in Nipomo.

The meeting will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Arroyo Grande High School multipurpose room, 495 Valley Road.

Caltrans says it is proposing a concrete median barrier along 4.65 miles of the roadway to improve safety. For information, contact project manager Amy Donatello at 542-3104 or amy_donatello@dot.ca.gov.

— Bob Cuddy

Pismo Beach

The Pismo Beach Police Department will retain its national accreditation status, thanks to efforts by local law enforcement and public officials.

The department has been working toward that goal since obtaining its initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies three years ago, police Cmdr. Jake Miller said.

According to Miller, re-accreditation requires compliance with 464 standards developed by top law enforcement agencies across the country. Those standards cover everything from communications and records to equipment and evidence handling, he said.

In August, two commission assessors spent four days auditing Pismo Beach police, Miller said.

Police Chief Jeff Norton, Pismo Beach Mayor Ann Reiss and Pismo Beach City Manager Kevin Rice appeared Nov. 20 before the commission, along with several Police Department staff members.

After interviewing police and city officials, the commission voted unanimously to award the department national accreditation status, Miller said.

A public ceremony will take place Jan. 1 to celebrate the milestone.

The Pismo Beach Police Department remains the smallest municipal agency in California to achieve full accredited status and retain it through reaccreditation, Miller said.

— Sarah Linn

SLO County

People who pay for health insurance will see more of their money go to direct medical care and less to administrative costs and profits as of Jan. 1, according to Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Capps said in a statement that, health insurance companies will be required to spend 80 to 85 cents of every premium dollar on direct medical care. Only 15 to 20 cents can go to administrative costs and profits.

Health insurance companies that do not comply will be required to reimburse patients beginning in January, 2012.

The change in the ratio between administration and profit and direct medical care comes at a time when 20 percent of consumers spend 30 cents of every dollar on administrative costs and another 25 percent spend between 25 and 30 cents, Capps said.

She said that this is designed to make insurance firms spend less on salaries for company leaders.

— Bob Cuddy