California Medical Association sues state over doctor licensing delays

A new suit filed by the California Medical Association claims that furloughs instituted by the state have unacceptably slowed the state medical board's processing of applicants for physician licenses.

The CMA filed its lawsuit after the medical board reported that it was taking three times longer than required by law to process applications. The suit contends that the furloughs are preventing physicians from starting new jobs, residencies and fellowships.

Right now, like other state employees, the medical board staff is subject to three furlough days a month, which results in a loss of 5,100 work hours each month. The suit is asking that the furloughs be halted immediately.

The state medical board had a backlog in applications well before California began its furlough program. However, the process surprisingly has not been slowed much further by the forced absences. According to an Oct. 1 medical board report, the number of physician license applications not reviewed within the legally-required 90 days had grown to 576. This was due to both the complexity of the applications and the state's elimination of overtime pay, the board said.

Right now, the board has only six full-time analysts on board dedicated to processing U.S. applications. It's hoping to add eight more permanent staff members, as well as $6 million transferred from the board's contingent fund to the state's general fund.

To learn more about the suit:
- read this American Medical News piece

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