Monday, October 3, 2011

AB 584 (Fong) is still on the Governor's desk: he has until October 9th to sign it into law. This bill will stop the perfidious practice of farming out utilization review for injured workers to doctors without California licenses. These doctors, no matter how well qualified, have not done the mandatory 12-hour pain management course that is required of doctors licensed in California. In addition to enjoying this relief, the doctors without California licenses enjoy another benefit: they don't pay fees to the Medical Board of California since they're not licensed in California. The loss of revenue to California's General Fund in terms of lost taxable income is $10,000,000 annually. If these doctors make grievous errors, they don't have to explain anything to the MBC nor do they report to their own state boards since those boards don't have jurisdiction in California. The loss to injured workers in California who are denied timely authorization of care is incalculable. Urge the governor to sign AB 584 by faxing your signed statement to him at 916-558-3177.

Late bulletin: Gov. Brown vetoed this bill on Oct. 7th because it wasn't consistent with how UR is done under Knox-Keene and private health plans that use the same UR techniques to delay and deny indicated medical care. The reasoning seems to be that's it's OK to apply the same screw to injured workers as to everybody else. Is it time to take down Knox-Keene?

AB 655 (Hayashi), also on the Governor's desk, is a horse of another color, well, at least a donkey of another color. This bill will allow transfer of alleged peer review material from one hospital to another when doctors apply for hospital privileges. The trouble is that there's nothing in the bill that allows sham peer review material, material that's flat-out wrong or defamatory, to be excluded from the transferred material. The accused doctor doesn't even need to be copied on the transferred material. Assemblywoman Hayashi, author of the bill, actually misinformed the legislature in an Assembly speech about the bill by asserting that there was no opposition (we have the video showing her doing just that). Attempts to get an amendment that would allow accused doctors to be fully informed were unsuccessful. The Governor should veto AB 655. Fax him that message at 916-558-3177.

Late bulletin: after the posting of the item above, word came in from Sacramento that Gov. Brown signed AB 655.

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