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New doctor appointment rules take effect in California

SACRAMENTO, CA - Californians who have HMOs (health maintenance organizations) and some PPOs (preferred provider organizations) are now entitled to be seen by doctors within certain timeframes.

The law kicked in Monday. Under the new wait time rules, a patient must be given an appointment to see a primary care doctor within 10 business days and a specialist within 15 days.

Another provision is that a qualified health professional must be available around the clock to help determine the urgency of a caller's health.

"The Department of Managed Health Care will audit those health plans on a routine basis, and than we'll as well be doing secret shopper audits where we call up and try to get appointments and ensure that in fact patients are getting the care that they need," said department director Cindy Ehnes.

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Elderly Citrus Heights woman fends off break-in

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA - An elderly Citrus Heights woman scared off would-be home invaders Tuesday afternoon, say police.

The woman, who lives on the 7700 block of Glen Tree Drive, fired a gun when the individuals tried to their way into her home at 1:45 Tuesday afternoon, said Citrus Heights police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Garrison.

She told officers she first heard loud noises at both her front and back doors. When she looked through the peep hole in her front door, she saw one man trying to open the door, said Lt. Gary Hendricks. When she went to her back door, at least two more individuals were trying to break in there, she told police. 

That is when she grabbed a handgun and fired it, Hendricks said.

The individuals fled on foot. Police conducted a search without success.

Garrison said woman was alone at the time.

Newsom launches California discussion on state's higher education system

Newsom launches California discussion on state's higher education system

California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday the launch of a statewide higher education listening tour and an online campaign that will engage Californian's in a public dialogue, seeking their feedback and suggestions on issues relating to the state's higher education system.

In the coming months, Newsom is expected to travel to the University of California (UC), Califoria State University (CSU) and community college campuses, to meet with a broad range of stakeholders, including students, administration officials and community and business leaders.

"I look forward to having an honest conversation and hearing directly from students, educators and administration officials on everyday issues and challenges within our higher education system," said Newsom.

Woman arrested in North Highlands arson

NORTH HIGHLANDS, CA - Fire investigators say a woman set a fire in a North Highlands home during an argument and then left a blind man inside before she took off.

Officers arrested Angelia Denise Coleman, 29, on an arson charge Monday night.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Christian Pebbles said Coleman was staying at the house in the 4900 block of Harrison Street when she got into an argument with the man.

Pebbles said Coleman set a couch on fire in a converted garage Monday afternoon, endangering the life of the blind man. Neighbors were able to put out the fire and help the man to safety.

Pebbles said the district attorney may decide to file additional charges.

Coleman remains in the Sacramento County Jail on $200,000 bail. She will appear in court Wednesday afternoon.

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Study finds toxic chemicals in pregnant womens' bodies

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Pregnant women take elaborate steps to protect their babies' health, following doctors' orders to avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco - even soft cheeses and deli meats.

In spite of these efforts, a new study shows the typical pregnant woman has dozens of potentially toxic or even cancer-causing chemicals in her body - including ingredients found in flame retardants and rocket fuel.

Almost all 268 women studied had detectable levels of eight types of chemicals in their blood or urine, finds the study, published in today's Environmental Health Perspectives. It analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These chemicals include certain pesticides, flame retardants, PFCs used in non-stick cookware, phthalates (in many fragrances and plastics), pollution from car exhaust, perchlorate (in rocket fuel) and PCBs, toxic industrial chemicals banned in 1979 that persist in the environment.

Excessive videogaming linked to depression in kids

When it comes to video gaming, it seems moderation is important to a child's mental health. 

In a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers in the  U.S. and overseas studied more than 3,000 third, fourth, seventh and eighth graders in  Singapore and found that around 8 percent of the students were considered  pathological gamers. 

A young person was considered a pathological gamer when the practice damaged the actual functioning of his or her life by negatively impacting their  schoolwork, social life, family relationships, and psychological and emotional welfare.   

Sacramento police dogs raising money through calendar

SACRAMENTO, CA - Four-legged members of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department have a new job -- they're furry calendar models.

Dogs from the department's K9 unit are featured in a 2011 calendar designed to raise funds for the nonprofit Sacramento Sheriff K9 Association.

A 3-year-old German shepherd named Ronin is Mr. June. He's shown posing dramatically with his handler on the bank of the American River as a sheriff's helicopter hovers overhead.

The money raised will help pay training  costs for working dogs and medical costs for retired animals.

The calendars are $20 and can be ordered on the Sacramento County Sheriff's K9 Association Website through their online store.

New Year's Eve: Hitting the town or hosting a party?

Do you host the party or go to one? We have a party every year now and are always looking for new recipes that are tasty and easy to make. What's your favorite party-pleaser food?

Cool week ahead; Rain, snow forecast Tuesday-Wednesday

SACRAMENTO, CA - The last week of 2010 will be an unsettled and chilly one, with the exception of the brief dry break from rain Monday.

Monday will be a mostly dry day throughout the area. Highs will warm to the mid to upper 50s.

Hazy sunshine may peak through by midday with increasing clouds late ahead of another round of wet weather starting Tuesday. The heaviest amount of precipitation looks to be Tuesday night into Wednesday. Ski resorts could get another one to two feet of snow!

Snow levels will start high with this passing system around 6,000feet in the Sierra, but then drop down to 3,000 feet Wednesday morning, delivering snow down to foothill levels.

Moonwatchers treated to total lunar eclipse

SLIDESHOW: Your lunar eclipse photos

UNDATED (AP) -- It's a rare event -- a total eclipse of the moon.

And even rarer is an eclipse that take place during the winter solstice. It meant that the moon was glowing high in the sky during the eclipse overnight.

The 3 1/2 hour spectacle was visible from North and Central America where skies were clear.

The totality phase -- when the moon was completely immersed in Earth's shadow -- lasted 72 minutes.