KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Schwarzenegger: Health Worker Discipline Delays ‘Absolutely Unacceptable’

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger [of California] on Wednesday conceded that long-standing delays in disciplining errant health professionals were 'absolutely unacceptable' and promised broad reforms to better protect patients from dentists, pharmacists, therapists and others accused of misconduct," ProPublica/The Los Angeles Times reports. The reforms will include adding more investigators and auditors and new laws to fast-track suspensions of licenses of professionals who don't comply with rules. The reforms would be subsidized by hiking licensing fees, and come a month after an investigation by the two news organizations revealed that it took an average of three years to conclude investigations of nurses accused of wrongdoing.

Schwarzenegger hopes to cut that time in half with the reforms that would target all 18 "healing arts" boards that regulate the state's 900,000 health workers. He took earlier action to replace members of the state's nursing board. "Despite the dramatic gestures, Schwarzenegger's own actions may have contributed to problems" at the boards, ProPublica/The Los Angeles Times reports. "A blizzard of budget-cutting," work furloughs, and failure to promptly fill vacancies on health-related boards may be contributing to the problems (Weber, Ornstein and Lin, 8/13).

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