by Amy Crocker
While national health care faced a set back this week with the loss of the 60th Democratic senate seat, California took a step forward. A new state law sets limits on the length of time a patient must wait to see a doctor. California is the first state to set this type of standard. Supporters of the law hope this will reduce crowds in the emergency room, if patients are treated in a more timely manner. HMOs have until Jan. 17, 2011 to comply with the new rules.
The Chronicle provides this breakdown of the new maximum wait times:
- 10 business days for non-urgent primary care and mental health appointments.
- 15 business days for non-urgent appointments with a specialist and for lab tests, X-ray and other ancillary services.
- 96 hours for urgent-care appointments that require special authorization.
- 48 hours for urgent-care appointments with no authorization.
- 24-hour telephone screening or triage, seven days a week.
- 30-minute wait times for telephone triage.
- 10-minute wait times to speak with the HMO's customer service representative.