California physicians, state medical board spar over disciplinary power, fees

The California Medical Association is lobbying against legislation that would increase physician licensing fees and give the state medical board more power to investigate complaints, Kaiser Health News reported June 28.

State lawmakers and patient advocates have been working to reform the Medical Board of California for years, claiming it fails to hold some physicians accountable for their indiscretions, thereby endangering patients. 

The medical association has opposed these efforts, with spokesperson Carlos Villatoro saying disciplinary actions are based "on the facts and circumstances of each case," according to KHN

The association has successfully lobbied to reduce a proposed hike of physician licensing fees and killed a proposal to end the board's physician majority by adding more public members.

The state Senate on June 3 approved an amended bill that would approve a smaller licensing fee increase, restore the medical board's power to recover investigative costs for cases in which physicians have been disciplined and create an independent monitor to assess the board's complaint and disciplinary processes, according to Kaiser Health News. The legislation now sits before the state Assembly.

California hasn't passed a licensing fee increase since 2005.

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