New Laws Governing Health Care Issues Take Effect in California
On Jan.1, various health care-related laws took effect in California. Select bills are highlighted below.
- SB 541 by Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) and AB 211Â by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) will create a new state oversight privacy office that will be charged with investigating and placing tougher penalties on hospital workers who access patients' medical records without authorization.
- A new law requires insurers to permit family members of a policy holder whose coverage has been canceled to keep their coverage.
- Another law bars insurers from refusing to pay the medical bills of members injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- In addition, a new law requires insurers to cover HIV screenings (McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 12/31/08).
Hospital Infection Control
- SB 1058, also by Alquist, requires hospitals to screen certain high-risk patients for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and report their infection rates to the state. Beginning in 2011, the information will be accessible to the public on a state Web site.
- SB 158 by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) gives the state additional authority to look into infection outbreaks and complaints about lax infection control practices. The law also requires hospitals to provide education and training opportunities for workers (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 12/27/08).
- Doctors who treat terminally ill patients will be required to inform them on all end-of-life options, including hospice care and the right to refuse treatment.
- California's Emergency Medical Services Authority will be required to set up and maintain a statewide registry of the status of emergency medical technician licenses. In addition, beginning July, 1, 2010, all EMTs will have to undergo criminal background checks.
- People who use 911 lines for non-emergency calls will receive a warning on the first offense, followed by a $50 fine for the second offense and a $100 fine for the third (Los Angeles Times, 12/31/08).
Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on new health care laws taking effect (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 1/2).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.