Doctor Counseling Program Bill Shelved, EpiPen Bill Advances
On Friday, the Assembly Committee on Appropriations held back a bill (AB 2346) that would have created a statewide counseling program for physicians with mental health or substance misuse issues, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Details of Bill
The bill, by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would have established a voluntary and confidential program for doctors in the state.
The California Medical Association supported the bill. However, the measure was opposed by trial attorneys and consumer groups, which took issue with the confidentiality provision.
CMA spokesperson Molly Weedn said the Legislature's failure to advance the bill was "unfortunate" but that the group "remain[s] firmly committed to implementing" a mental health and substance misuse program for physicians. She also noted that California "remains one of the few states in America" without such a program.
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure now are pushing for a ballot initiative that would establish random drug screenings for physicians (McGreevy/Mason, Los Angeles Times, 5/23).
Specifically, the measure would require hospitals to conduct random drug and alcohol testing on physicians. Doctors also would be tested if they make preventable medical errors.
The ballot measure also would raise the ceiling on medical malpractice judgments to $1.1 million to account for inflation and would index the cap for future inflation rate. In addition, it would require physicians and pharmacists to consult a state-run online database known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System before prescribing such medications to patients (California Healthline, 5/16).
Senate Committee Passes Student EpiPen Measure
Meanwhile, the state Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a bill (SB 1266), by Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), that would require school districts in the state to stock emergency epinephrine auto-injectors, or EpiPens, so that trained personnel are able to provide emergency care to individuals suffering from a severe allergic reaction.
Currently, state law allows public schools to keep the emergency allergy treatment in stock but does not require it (Huff release, 5/23).
Health care and allergy groups support the bill, while the California Teachers Association, the California School Employees Association and the California Federation of Teachers oppose the measure (California Healthline, 4/3).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.