Schwarzenegger Signs Bill To Split Health Department
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday signed legislation (SB 162) to restructure the Department of Health Services to create a new Department of Public Health, the Sacramento Bee reports (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 9/15).
DPH will focus on managing public health threats posed by epidemics, natural disasters and bioterrorism, while DHS would be responsible for overseeing Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 4/19). The law will take effect July 1, 2007.
Schwarzenegger will appoint a state Public Health Officer, who must be a licensed physician or surgeon, to oversee the department and two chief deputy directors. In addition, DHS will be renamed the Department of Health Care Services.
According to an Office of the Governor release, "The reorganization will increase accountability and improve the effectiveness of both public health and health care purchasing activities."
Schwarzenegger also announced a $9 million grant to expand a public health laboratory at the University of California-Los Angeles.
The grant, from state and Los Angeles homeland security funds, will allow the UCLA High Speed, High Volume Laboratory Network to purchase equipment and expand the size of the lab. The lab will be able to quickly analyze large quantities of biological samples to improve the nation's ability to respond to a "rapidly emerging public health threats," according to the release (Office of the Governor release, 9/14).
KPCC's "KPCC News" on Thursday reported on the new department's creation. The segment includes comments from:
- Jonathan Fielding, director of the new Los Angeles County Department of Public Health;
- Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento); and
- Schwarzenegger (Myrow, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/14).
In addition, KPCC's "Patt Morrison" on Thursday included a discussion of the new department and the new public health lab. Guests on the program included Ortiz and Linda Rosenstock, dean of the UCLA School of Public Health (Morrison, "Patt Morrison," KPCC, 9/14).
The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Other health-related bills signed by Schwarzenegger are listed below.
SB 1307 by Sen. Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno) will allow health care providers to disclose a patients' medical information to someone designated as an agent under a power of attorney (Bill text, 8/22). According to a Senate bill analysis, the law is "intended to achieve consistency" between the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act and the state's Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (Bill analysis, 8/11).
SB 1850 by the Senate Health Committee will require the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to collect and make available to DHS reports on hospital emergency care data records and ambulatory surgery data records, and amend other hospital reporting requirements (Bill text, 8/17).
AB 1920 by Assembly member Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) will extend a funding structure for hospitals under a Medi-Cal demonstration project to fiscal year 2006-2007 (Bill text, 8/24).
- AB 2986 by Assembly member Gene Mullin (D-San Mateo) will create additional requirements for prescriptions for controlled substances, including provisions related to the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System program (Bill text, 8/22).