LAB TESTS: Feds Grant State Watchdog Agency Fee Exemption
The Clinton administration last week granted the state Laboratory Field Services a fee exemption that "should make it easier to carry out its watchdog duties," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Part of the state health department, the small agency "plays a pivotal role in assuring that medical tests performed in doctors' offices and private labs are done accurately by properly trained personnel." LFS has been plagued by "chronic underfunding problems," mainly because the federal government collected most of the $4.6 million in fees that California labs pay to the agency. The administration's reversal of that policy for the state agency, however, means LFS will get to keep "most" of the fees it collects for enforcement purposes. Under the old policy, it retained only 40 cents of every dollar collected. "Now we can start to do the things we need to do," according to Paul Kimsey, assistant deputy director of the state division that runs LFS. LFS Chief Karen Nickel said the agency will add eight inspectors to its existing staff of 17. The Chronicle reports, however, that the state and Clinton administration "have yet to hash out the final dollar settlement" of how much the federal government will keep for "overhead costs" -- "a possible snag that could upset the carefully negotiated agreement." Nevertheless, the exemption "is a federal acknowledgement that the local agencies can enforce federal standards as well as, or better than, the federal government itself" (Russell, 2/3).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.