Friday, May 22, 2009

AB 933 (Fong) Wins Assembly Vote: Will Governor Arnie Schwarzenegger Continue his Gift Program to Insurance Companies? by Robert L. Weinmann, MD

AB 933 (Fong) won a resounding victory in the Assembly on Wednesday, 20 May 2009, on a 49 to 30 vote. The bill now goes to the Senate.

If AB 933 (Fong) becomes law it'll put a stop to the perfidious practice of some insurance companies that use non-California licensed physicians to do utilizatiion review in Workers' Compensation cases. These doctors who are not licensed to practice medicine in California are not responsible to the Medical Board of California for harmful decisions even though the Medical Board of California says that Utilization Review is part of medical practice and that doctors doing Utilization Review for California's injured workers should be licensed in California.

These exempt doctors are also not responsible to their own state boards since their own state boards don't have jurisdiction in California. In the meanwhile, cash-strapped California takes another body blow. Since these doctors aren't required to be licensed in California, they don't pay fees to the Medical Board of California. They get a free ride. Their share is paid by properly licensed doctors in California whose legal medical decisions are often blocked, delayed, and denied by the non-paying free-ride non-California licensed doctors. How d'ya like them apples, reader!?

Here's the rub: the propositions just got wiped out in the May 19th Special Election. Governor Schwarzenegger said that the people have spoken and now he'll have to teach them a lesson by cutting services right and left. Meanwhile, the Governor continues to give insurance companies a free ride by allowing them to employ Utilization Review doctors who don't pay license fees to the State of California. If only 1,000 non-California licensed doctors enjoy this benefit, the Medical Board of California is deprived of $808,000 (the real number has never been disclosed).

Governor Schwarzenegger is about to punish the public for not trusting political hypocrisy and for voting down his propositions. Meanwhile, he continues to reward insurance companies that hire non-California licensed doctors whose decisions often deprive injured workers and sick patients from the medical care they deserve.

Readers who have strong enough feelings on this issue need to make contact with their State Senators. So far the issue has been largely partisan, Democrats voting for the bill, Republicans, against. It is hard to believe that we're giving gifts to insurance companies while the public unnecessarily pays the piper


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