Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) approved legislation to help health care providers send and receive electronic prescription information as required by the 2003 Medicare law. Under the law, health care providers could accept nonmonetary compensation to help make the necessary changes, at a time when research shows that about one in four physicians use electronic health records of some type and fewer than one in 10 use a comprehensive EHR system. To help support the adoption of information technology strategies, Schwarzenegger in July signed an executive order that provides $240 million to expand medical record technology in rural areas and among health care providers who treat low-income residents. According to the order, a technology program is scheduled to begin July 1, 2007.
With an eye on hospital quality, the governor also enacted a measure that will require hospitals to disclose whether they comply with strategies to minimize hospital-acquired infections. To win support for the measure, Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) agreed to drop provisions that would have required hospitals to disclose infection rates, a task that opponents said could result in hospitals that track infections more thoroughly appearing to provide lower quality care than facilities with less stringent reporting procedures.
This week's Legislative Update highlights several other bills Schwarzenegger acted on, including:
- A measure that would have required the state HMO report card to include information on Medicare prescription drug plans;
- Legislation to require standards for safe staffing and operation of long-term care facilities; and
- A law that will require adverse events to be reported to the Department of Health Services within five days of their discovery.