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Friday, January 28, 2011

California Medical Board Grapples with Budget Problems

Readers -- as you may recall, I was appointed by the Senate Rules Committee to the California Medical Board which licenses and disciplines physicians in the state. We also oversee Physician Assistants, Licensed Midwives, and Optical Dispensers.

We meet quarterly and for the past two days we have been in Burlingame near San Francisco. We work two full days because we are a regulatory board so I never get to see much of the city in which we meet.

The board is grappling with a state budget that continues to freeze hiring and fail to fund needed programs. The problem is that we derive our budget from the license fees paid by physicians -- not tax revenue. So for the life of me I cannot understand why our employees who are charged with keeping the public safe from bad doctors are put on furloughs or not given the funds needed to continue necessary safety programs such as Operation Safe Medicine. We have vacancies that need to be filled so the department can do its job. Life doesn't stop just because of a hiring freeze. Consumers expect when they file a complaint against a physician that the California Medical Board has the staff and resources to handle the complaint in a timely manner.

This does not make sense. Hopefully the new governor (who was the Attorney General and the prosecutor for the cases the Medical Board took to him) understands that regulatory agencies need access to the funds that have been paid by licensees so we can do our job.

Save Station 18

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