Furloughs Exacerbate Delays for Calif. Medical Licensing Boards
Agencies that license and discipline California medical practitioners are facing mounting backlogs because of state-mandated furloughs, HealthLeaders Media reports.
In February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) ordered most state workers to take two furlough days per month. In July, he increased the furloughs to three days per month, or about 15% of state workers' hours.
However, unlike most California agencies, medical licensing boards collect money from licensing fees instead of the state.
Therefore, observers have started to question why the government continues to impose the licensing board furloughs, which exacerbate investigation delays and do not reduce state spending.
Partially as a result of the furloughs, the Medical Board of California and other oversight agencies are facing major delays in completing construction permits, investigations and licensing.
For example, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development has postponed the release of data related to:
- Health care quality;
- Health facility finances;
- Health system utilization;
- Hospital-acquired infections; and
- Hospital compliance with seismic standards.
Officials have placed other programs on hold indefinitely.
The furloughs also have affected the Department of Managed Care, which oversees insurance companies.
Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) said the furloughs could be aggravating problems at the California Board of Registered Nursing. Last month, the board was criticized after the Los Angeles Times published an investigation exposing significant lapses in the board's disciplinary enforcement.
In response to such issues, Negrete McLeod has introduced a resolution (SR 25) that would exempt certain fee-funded health agencies from the state-mandated furlough days.
The resolution states that cutting hours for licensing board workers "inhibits the consumer protection activities of the boards and further slows the enforcement process down, and is completely unnecessary to resolving any of the state's budget problems."
The proposal is scheduledÂ to be considered inÂ a hearing on Aug. 17 (Clark, HealthLeaders Media, 8/10).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.