September 15, 2009 Legislation




The California Hospital Association is pressuring the legislature to allow them to hire physicians even though it is strictly against California law.  The CHA is now trying to say it is against the equal protection of the 14th Amendment.  The CHA is trying to allow the hiring of physicians in rural areas and in urban underserved areas.  The California Medical Association is fighting the proposal to keep corporations from telling physicians how to practice.  The current bill would only allow two physicians to be hired per hospital and an additional three after public hearings to show they are needed.  This may pass the Assembly but the Senate is a whole new ball game. 

California has fined 12 hospitals for significant lapses in care.  The hospitals involved included Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo, Children's Hospital of Orange County, Hoag Memorial in Newport Beach.   Murietta's Southwest Hospital got its third fine in three years. Several hospitals in Southern California got the fine for leaving sponges in patients.  These included LA County/USC.

California also chastised South Sacramento Kaiser for following the lead of it's southern California brother and discharging a brain injured man into the streets on Memorial Day weekend when the shelter was closed.  This was not a fineable offense but did require Kaiser to file a correction plan with the state.      Top


The independent Kaiser Foundation has studied the People's Republic of Massachusetts healthcare system.  They state the laws do not help those whose employers offer coverage that is unaffordable or inadequate.  This is because employed low income people can not get subsidized health care.  They recommend that there should be a minimum benefit levels and limits on how much a person has to pay including premiums.

The Republic has found, as the feds will eventually, that there is not enough money to give everything to everybody.  Governor Patrick has now taken away legal immigrant's dental, hospice and skilled nursing care. Some of the five year or less green carders will have to find new physicians in a state that has less than the needed amount of physicians and will be charged higher co-pays.  These people do not qualify for Medicaid.

HealthLeaders has contrasted the Republic's fiasco with Indiana's program.  Indiana has a federal waiver to cover people who do not qualify for Medicaid.  What they found is those who are the sickest are the ones who come into the fold first causing large initial expenses.  Later in the first year the non-sick begin to enter and expenses peak and start to decline.  The study concluded that the young and healthy will not come into insurance unless one uses a stick and not a carrot.  The study does suggest that the stick should be used to even out the initial large expense bump.

The Republic's officials will be putting the screws to how much a non profit insurer or hospital may pay its executives.  The Republic only cares about costs and not that the insurers and hospitals have to compete for quality nationally.

While on the subject of pay, Texas has passed a law making it illegal for force nurses to work overtime.  This is good for patient safety.  

While still talking about lucre, HealthLeaders states that a study by The Lewin Group showed that spending by the House Bill would constrain spending for the initial decade but fail to keep cost from growing faster than funding after that.  They found that families in which all members are insured would decrease their yearly outlay by about $175 whereas those with one uninsured member would increase their outlay by $1400 per family.  They also state employers would be paying about $300 more per employee overall with those already covering employees having an increase of $123 per worker and an increase of $813 for those who do not insure workers at present.  Safety net programs of the states would not be needed saving the states about $62 Billion for the first ten years and $125 Billion for the next decade.  It should be noted that the Lewin Group is owned by UnitedHealth.  

Not all are happy campers.  The Baucus bill with probable bi-partisan support will be reported out of committee.  The bill will block illegal aliens from buying subsidized insurance, have no public plan, urge limits on med mal, and have no subsidies for abortion unless the mother's life or health is at stake.  The Senate liberals are not happy with the bipartisan nature as they want the public option and are against all the other things in the bill, especially the med mal provisions that go against their master, the trial attorneys.  There may be some compromise but it is doubtful.     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.