California Attorney General Settles with Clinical Lab on Medi-Cal Billing Lawsuit
On May 20th, the California Attorney General announced a settlement with Quest Diagnostics over allegations of improper charges to Medi-Cal that exceeded charges to other entities for similar services. Quest was one of six original defendants in a qui tam lawsuit filed in 2005 that was ultimately referred to the A.G. The A.G. office issued a press release announcing a $241 million settlement with Quest that also calls for ongoing monitoring of charges to Medi-Cal to assure compliance. This settlement is the largest recovery in the history of California's False Claims Act.
CLICK HERE for the full Press Release.
Bill to Allow Optometrists to Perform Waived Tests and be Lab Director
AB 761 (Hernandez) is sponsored by the CA Optometric Association and would allow optometrists to act as Lab Directors. This would allow them to supervise the performance of waived tests for conditions that are within their scope of practice. In initial conversations with the sponsors they indicate the desire to perform waived tests beyond conditions involving the eye. They have indicated a desire to perform glucose testing for the detection of diabetes, urinalysis, and sedimentation rate.
The CSP has indicated their concerns with both the education/training and need for optometrists to perform the broad range of waived testing. We will be in discussions with the author and sponsor in the coming weeks. It has been double referred to both the Assembly Business and Professions and Health Committees.
Bills to Allow District Hospitals to Employ Physicians Stall for This Year
Two bills were introduced this year, AB 1360 (Swanson) and AB 824 (Chesbro) that would have allowed certain types of district hospitals to employ a limited number of physicians, either 5 or 10 per hospital, with varying degrees of medical staff approval. Those district hospitals would be limited to rural areas, have 50% or greater Medicare/Medi-Cal patient census, and have demonstrated a difficulty in recruiting the specific type of physician/specialist.
Both bills had been scheduled to be heard in Assembly Health Committee but were subsequently removed from the calendar and thus have become two-year bills, (i.e. will not be heard until next year). With CMA leadership the CSP joined with other medical specialists in opposing these bills and looking for a compromise that will assist rural district hospitals but not erode the important corporate practice of medicine bar.