A new California law is aimed at protecting uninsured and underinsured patients from aggressive hospital billing and collection practices.

Signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the law prevents hospitals from charging self-pay patients more than what government programs charge for medical care, according to a Modernhealthcare report Oct. 2. It covers families earning less 350% of the federal poverty level, or $58,100 a year for a family of three. The hospital industry's current voluntary guidelines cover patients earning up to 300% of the poverty level.

New York passed a similar law in April.

California also passed a law that may float two-year extensions to some hospitals for retrofitting or replacing hundreds of unsafe buildings to meet new seismic-safety requirements by 2013.

Subscribe Now