Friday, April 9, 2010

New State Regulation Could Affect California's Low Physician Disciplinary Rate

California is one of the least likely states to take serious disciplinary action against physicians, according to a new study. But a new state regulation might soon change that.

Starting in June, California's 125,000 physicians will be required to post signs in their offices or otherwise inform patients about how to contact the Medical Board of California to file quality of care complaints.

The new regulation comes in response to concerns that California patients are not lodging complaints about quality of care very often, a position given credence by a report released this week showing California ranks 41st in the country in disciplinary action against physicians.

Using data from the Federation of State Medical Boards, consumer group Public Citizen found an average of 3.05 serious disciplinary actions per 1,000 physicians nationally. In comparison, California's medical board took 2.36 serious disciplinary actions per 1,000 doctors last year. Researchers defined serious discipline as license revocations, surrenders, suspensions, probation or restrictions.

Under the state's new regulations, physicians must provide a notice with the name, phone number and Web site of the medical board. Proponents hope more consumer information will help uncover misconduct and increase quality of care in the state.

The California Medical Association criticized the new rule, claiming it could undermine the doctor-patient relationship.

Meanwhile, here's a rundown of health care bills making their way through the Legislature.

Health Plans

AB 2586 by Assembly member Wesley Chesbro (D-Santa Rosa) would require health insurers to demonstrate that a planned modification to its health care provider network meets certain standards. The measure also would require insurers to provide consumers with an accurate list of contracting providers upon request. In addition, the bill would require insurers post an interactive map on their Web sites to help consumers locate providers in their area (Bill text, 4/5). The bill is before the Assembly Committee on Health (Bill status, 4/5).

Doctors and Nurses

Under AB 2699 by Assembly member Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), health care providers licensed in another state would be exempt from California's medical licensure requirements if they provide care on a short-term, voluntary basis in association with certain registered sponsoring entities. The bill also would state the intent of the Legislature that the voluntary services be primarily provided to uninsured and underinsured populations (Bill text, 4/5). The bill is before the Assembly Committee on Rules (Bill status, 4/5).

Prescription Drugs

SB 1106 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) would require prescribers who dispense prescription drug samples to either provide patients with a copy of the FDA-approved package insert for the medication or ensure that the manufacturer's warnings are on the packaging of the samples (Bill text 4/5). The bill is before the Senate Committee on Appropriations (Bill status, 4/5).

Health Care Reform

SB 1378 by Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark) would prohibit the state from enacting any Medi-Cal expansions mandated under the national health care reform law unless the federal government fully funds the expansion. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Bill text, 4/5). The bill is before the Senate Committee on Rules (Bill text, 4/5).

No comments: