California has some new medical laws that go into effect this year. They include a ban on smoking in a car with a child riding in the car, starting July 1 all cell phone use must be hands free and teens may not drive while using any cell phone or texting. Also HIV testing will now be considered routine on physical exams eliminating the need for specific written consent. The counties will be required to issue certification of stillbirth with any fetus over 20 weeks of age.
In AB 1298 which went into effect, all California residents whose electronic medical records have been exposed must be notified. The records must have the name as the only required identifier. The law applies to state agencies and any company that does business with Californians even if the business is outside of the state. The law also prevents any company that holds electronic personal health records from disclosing that information without consent. The standard exceptions apply but not any marketing. Top
North Dakota has stopped covering vaccines for children with insurance. They used to offer free vaccines to all of the state's children but that has become too expensive. They still will cover those who have no insurance or whose insurance will not cover the vaccines. I don't understand why any insurer would cover the vaccine if the state will continue to pay.
The People's Republic of Massachusetts continues to change the rules of their healthcare fiasco. The penalty for not signing up for the new program has gone from a meager $250 loss on one's income tax to $912 per year. This is more than previously but is it enough to compensate for the money spent on insurance premiums. Doubtful.
A new Oregon law states that if any insurer covers prescriptions they must cover birth control as well. This includes emergency contraceptives by hospitals for those women who were sexually assaulted.
California's hospitals now have the next step in nurse ratios. The new ratios require one more nurse per number of patients. It is now 1 nurse per three patients in step down units and one per four patients in other units.
The Joint Commission has appointed a special commission to relook at the controversial (from the hospital viewpoint) MS 1.20 Standard. The new rule is to go into effect to protect the hospital physicians in July, 2009. The report is due in several months. The AHA is happy the JC is relooking at the standard so they can continue their control over physicians.
Boca Raton Community Hospital has been caught by the "bounty hunter" private auditors hired by CMS to find overpayments. These auditing firms get a percentage of all the overpayments found and can keep the money even if it is found later that the audit was wrong. This is a miscarriage of justice and just wrong. One of the companies is part of the holdings of Senator Diane Feinstein's husband.
A report by DHS is damning to physician owned hospitals. It states that 55 % of the 109 physician owned hospitals had EDs but most had only one bed. About 1/3 had 24 hour in house physicians and 1/3 depended on dialing 911 if there was an emergency. There were other significant problems as well. The only problem with the report was the lack of any comparable data from other hospitals. Even without the comparing data, the physician owned hospitals better get their act together or they will soon be a thing of the past. Top
Since Congress procrastinated so long in their decision making process for physician payments, CMS has lengthened the time physicians have to decide whether or not to become a participating physician. The time has been extended from December 31 to February 15, 2008. All changes are retroactive to January 1, 2008. Physicians are now scheduled for a 0.5% raise for six months and who knows what will happen then. It is possible but not likely that the fees may then be reduced by 10.5%.
WARNING!!! Starting March 1, 2008 Medicare will require NPI on all electronic filings plus any old IDs they were using. Starting May 23, 2008, only NPI will be accepted. This is not true for those who still file paper claims. Medicare recommends that physicians send some small claims through with just NPI to make sure all is okay before the May deadline. Medicare still gets about 10% of its claims without NPIs. It should be noted that all carriers will go to NPI on the May 23 date. Top
Two more states are debating medical marijuana. Vermont's governor is now stating that he is open to decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. In Montana, the Department of Corrections is proposing that parolees are barred from having medical marijuana. The ACLU is suing since state law allows medical marijuana and the Department doesn't have the right to change state law. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this
article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the
time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers
should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the