A Sacramento Bee editorial argues that lawmakers should pass a bill that would give nurse practitioners authority to practice independently without having to seek a physician's signature for "simple, straightforward" medical decisions. The authors write, "[Physicians] worry that allowing nurse practitioners to operate independently would cause competition with primary care doctors and increase fragmentation of care. This is overwrought." The Senate may vote on the bill as early as Friday. Sacramento Bee.
A California HealthCare Foundation study finds wide variations in the number of elective surgeries by region. CHCF publishes California Healthline. According to the study, several factors, including access to information about the procedures, physician preferences and patient input, contribute to the geographical differences. Los Angeles Times.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed an immigration bill that would make it easier for foreign-born health professionals to work in the U.S. The bill also would allow some foreign-born people to purchase health plans through insurance exchanges. Modern Healthcare, Politico.
Observers are concerned that an Affordable Care Act loophole that allows families who fail to pay premiums for subsidized health plans to continue receiving coverage for three months could leave physicians responsible for the cost of care. Sacramento Bee.
A campaign will launch this summer in support of a proposed state ballot measure that would require that physicians randomly are subjected to drug and alcohol testing. Bob Pack -- former executive at AOL and NetZero -- is leading the $2 million campaign to place the measure on the November 2014 ballot. A California Medical Association spokesperson said the campaign is a "publicity stunt." AP/Miami Herald.
The California HealthCare Foundation has released two reports that find variations in treatment for prostate and breast cancer according to where patients live in the state. Experts say the findings indicate that physicians most often are determining treatments. Contra Costa Times.
The National Labor Relations Board has begun counting votes in an election to determine whether 45,500 Kaiser Permanente workers will continue to be represented by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West or switch to representation by the National Union of Healthcare Workers-California Nurses Association. An administrative law judge called for the new election after finding that SEIU misconduct interfered with workers' right of free choice in an October 2010 election that SEIU-UHW won by 61%. Sacramento Business Journal.
Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters writes that a state Senate committee's recent approval of a series of bills that would expand the scope of practice for non-physicians overrides doctors' concerns about the measures and implicitly concludes that physicians "are just trying to protect their turf and their incomes." According to Walters, "we should all be afraid" when lawmakers determine "which medical practitioner can perform which procedure." Sacramento Bee.
Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik writes that the Medical Board of California has "sat inertly by while its disciplinary program against incompetent and dangerous doctors falls to pieces" and that the board's regulation of physician-owned outpatient surgical centers "is almost nonexistent." According to Hiltzik, lawmakers are "talking about rubbing out the current membership and their executive director" as part of a legislative re-authorization process that "plainly is needed." Los Angeles Times.
On Monday, the state Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee approved a set of bills that would expand the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists to address a physician shortage. The bills, by Sen. Ed Hernandez, now proceed to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The Medical Board of California supports a series of bills that would address prescription drug misuse in the state. The board also has expressed opposition to a bill that would eliminate its authority to investigate physician misconduct. Los Angeles Times, AP/Modern Healthcare.
A bill by state Sen. Curren Price and Assembly member Richard Gordon would shift the authority to investigate alleged misconduct by physicians from the Medical Board of California to California's attorney general. Sacramento Business Journal, Los Angeles Times.
A UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study finds that California children experience more difficulties obtaining sub-specialized pediatric care than children in any other state. The study also finds disparities in access to such care related to factors such as geography, race and ethnicity. HealthyCal.
Rural communities in the state are struggling to attract young primary care physicians to replace retiring doctors in California, an expert says. Some observers say the Affordable Care Act could exacerbate the primary care physician shortage, while others say it could help attract doctors to such areas. HealthyCal.
A Sacramento Bee editorial argues that bills that would expand the scope of practice of non-physicians in California "have merits and lapses," adding that "[m]ore dialogue is needed to identify both the former and latter." According to the editorial, state lawmakers "should not rush to pass" the bills until "[l]egitimate concerns" about the measures have been "considered in some depth." Sacramento Bee.