Health Officers Association to Help Draft Bioterrorism Legislation
Doctors with the Health Officers Association of California have agreed to help Assembly member Keith Richman (R-Northridge) draft anti-bioterrorism legislation that is "politically palatable," the Sacramento Bee reports. Richman outlined his plan at the group's monthly meeting. While "few objections" were raised, the group withheld "immediate support." As it is currently drafted, the bill is based on model legislation drafted by the CDC for implementation by states and supported by President Bush. The measure would authorize "large-scale quarantin[es]" of those exposed to diseases such as smallpox and plague. Also, authorities could assume control of private hospitals and drugstores and mandate vaccinations in the event of a bioterrorist attack. Private property also could be destroyed without the owners' consent. Under current law, patients may be isolated and "forcibly treated," and the governor may commandeer private property after paying a "reasonable value." However, Richman said that California law is not written for a major bioterrorist attack, which could require large-scale quarantining. He said that his bill is an attempt to update current law to handle "modern threats." Although Richman said that the public health system is "woefully underfunded," he will not propose additional spending because it would make the bill "more difficult to pass." Richman said, "My concern is to make sure that California is prepared for a public health emergency." In a separate bill, Richman has also proposed that physicians, nurses and pharmacists be required to complete "bioterrorism preparedness training" every two years (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 12/7).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.