Court Sides With Governor Over State Medical Board Furloughs
On Thursday, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) acted within his power when he mandated furlough days for employees of the California Medical Board and transferred $6 million in physicians' fees to other agencies, Capitol Weekly reports.
The California Medical Association filed the lawsuit last fall, arguing that the transfer of the fees was unconstitutional and that the furloughs inhibited the board's ability to license physicians and promptly investigate complaints.
The Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the medical board, said the furloughs were necessary to reduce the state budget deficit.
CMA Continues Criticism
Under California statute, the medical board should complete licensing within about 60 business days, or about 90 calendar days. CMA says the process currently is taking about five and a half months (Howard, Capitol Weekly, 3/4).
CMA President Brennan Cassidy said the court's decision will allow Schwarzenegger to "cut Californians' access to care and jeopardize patient safety" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/4).
The association is considering whether to appeal the case (Capitol Weekly, 3/4).
What's Next for Furloughs?
Meanwhile, the Schwarzenegger administration has asked the California Supreme Court to consolidate and review seven other furlough cases that are on appeal.The governor has yet to call for a continuation of the three monthly furlough days for the next fiscal year. The current furloughs are set to expire at the end of June ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 3/4). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.