Contact: (916) 551-2551
Amber Pasricha Beck
 

California Physicians Act to Ease Doctor Shortage
CMA Files Petition to Stop Medical Board Furloughs That Are Delaying the Licensing of Hundreds of Physicians and Hampering Patients’ Access to Care

Sacramento - The California Medical Association filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court today seeking to end furloughs for the staff of the California Medical Board, which is backlogged with physician license applications and other important administrative work affecting the quality and accessibility of medical care.

“There is already a physician shortage in California,” said Dr. Dev GnanaDev, CMA president. “Because the Medical Board cannot keep up with current licensing demand, communities lacking access to health care will have to wait even longer to attract new physicians. The consequences of the furloughs and transfer of Medical Board funds to the state’s General Fund harm all Californians.”

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, says the Governor’s furlough order is illegal for the Medical Board’s staff because the Medical Board is funded by physician fees, and it challenges the state moving $6 million of the Contingent Fund of the Medical Board into the state’s General Fund.

Because the Governor has furloughed state employees three days per month, the Board can no longer maintain adequate staffing, resulting in an unprecedented buildup of license applications and disciplinary investigations and enforcements. Qualified physicians who are unlicensed but ready and able to immediately practice medicine must sit idle.

Both Dr. Laura Howard and Dr. Partho Kalyani have been waiting since May for the Medical Board to approve their applications. Despite several attempts to contact the Medical Board, neither knows if the Board has all the necessary information to move forward with their submissions.

Dr. Howard has been offered an ophthalmology position in Hanford, a rural agricultural community with only two other ophthalmologists. She has not been able to start seeing patients and worries that the hospital will rescind its offer of employment for a physician who is already licensed. Dr. Kalyani has been restricted to performing research only within his fellowship program. His lack of a license has hindered him from being able to complete the patient related tasks within his fellowship.

Both physicians are ready and eager to start treating patients, but because of the backlog caused by the unjustified taking of Medical Board resources, they and many others must wait. As a result of the furlough, it now takes the Medical Board five-and-a-half months just to complete an initial review of a license application. That delay is almost twice as long as what is required by the law. The three furlough days could not have come at a worse time.

In addition to taking away staff, the Governor and Legislature have redirected $6 million in Medical Board funds. By statute, the sole source of funds available to the Medical Board comes from physician license fees and other user fees that are mandated to be spent for Medical Board purposes. The Medical Board takes no money from the General Fund and does not depend on the state to support its mandate.

“The state has tried to solve its budget deficit with fees that physicians pay to support licensing and disciplinary actions,” Dr. GnanaDev said. “The two actions by the Governor and Legislature have seriously impeded the work of the Medical Board. CMA has filed this petition because the transfer provision and the furlough orders are unlawful.”

***

The California Medical Association represents more than 35,000 physicians in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California.