January 15, 2002 Legislation 


State v HMO

New California Medical Related Laws

Nursing Staffing Delayed

Medicare Newly Covered Areas

California Governor Wakes Up

State v HMO

In Texas, Humana is upset they have to comply with the prompt pay statute. Humana believes they will have to raise rates in order to cover the "overpayments" made due to their own negligence.  Of course there wouldn't have to be a statute if the HMOs paid in a timely manner.  The next item the physicians are going after is the unexplained downcoding and bundling by the insurers.           

The fight between the California Department of Managed Care and the HMOs is heating up.  The Department has dropped several charges against Kaiser but continues with the $1.1 million fine.  The state dropped the charge regarding the untimely ambulance services and its service center.   Top

New California Medically Related Laws

The new year brings new laws promulgated by those that know, the legislature and governor. It should be noted that the Governor vetoed almost all legislation that cost the state money. 

These include nutritional standards of foods sold at elementary and middle schools

Registration of same sex partners and unmarried seniors as domestic partners to enable them to take leave for care and to utilize the right to make medical decisions for each other

The State is also doing a study so they are requiring all hospitals to tell about heart surgical outcomes and all pre-existing conditions

Another new law means there will be vastly increased screening of newborns HMOs will be required to pay for HIV vaccines that are FDA approved

The DMV will establish an organ and tissue donor registry

Allows the "morning after" pill to be dispensed without a prescription but under protocol

The ban on smoking on public playgrounds or "tot-lot" areas

Nursing Staffing Delayed

On January 1, 2002 the new California nursing staffing ratios were supposed to be released.  Due to the usual infighting between the employers and nursing union the ratios will not be available for several months. There will then be a public comment period of 45 days.

The federal House and Senate have each passed legislation to help the national nursing shortage. The Senate calls for $136 million in scholarships and aid for students.  Of course there would also be a new bureaucracy, a commission to recommend further action.  The House does not have a dollar amount attached but offers financial aid to those who agree to work in public hospitals after graduation.  The House Bill also makes the GAO responsible for the study on the nursing shortage and mandates public service announcements promoting nursing.  There seems to be bilateral agreement that some type of help will be passed during the next term.        Top 

Medicare Newly Covered Areas

Starting on January 1, Medicare now covers nutritional services for diabetics and renal patients.  The patient will need a referral from their primary or coordinating physician.  Depending on how this flies, the program may be extended to those with high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The other new covered area is pain management.  There will be a new classification of physician using a special code stating they are pain management specialists. The new code will help patients locate these "specialists".        

In probably the most important area, patient care and the removal of the hassle factor, HHS has appointed a 27 person panel to hear from treating professionals.  The purpose is to streamline and delete unduly burdensome governmental regulation.  They hope to recommend both specific changes and broad reforms.  The panel will be headed by a practicing cardiologist from Mayo Clinic, Dr. Douglas Wood.  The group will be holding meetings for input throughout the country and will also be taking input at http://www.regreform.hhs.gov             Does it take 27 people to screw in the light bulb?                Top

California Governor Wakes Up

Governor Davis woke up after his original decision to scrap $25 million for trauma care.  With the state looking at a $12 billion shortfall mostly due to his inept handling of the power problem, Davis vetoed any legislative act that would cost money.  Now he realizes trauma saves lives.  He also realized that both sides of the aisle wanted the money in the budget.         

Gov. Davis

The Department is also pushing for a requirement that HMOs cover all out of area emergency maternity services.  There is no need for a pregnant female to be deprived of her right to travel.     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 information presented.