Healthcare & Nursing Legislative Update

SEIU 121RN members with Senator Richard Roth during a lobbying visit at the State Capitol. L-R: Jim Owen, RN; Katherine Kaiser-Reeves, RN; Gayle Batiste, RN; Maria Elena Diaz, RN; Jeannie King, RN; Senator Roth; Violeta Aguilar-Wyrick, 121RN Health & Safety Specialist; Dennis King, 121RN Associate Member.

SEIU 121RN members with Senator Richard Roth during a lobbying visit at the State Capitol. L-R: Jim Owen, RN; Katherine Kaiser-Reeves, RN; Gayle Batiste, RN; Maria Elena Diaz, RN; Jeannie King, RN; Senator Roth; Violeta Aguilar-Wyrick, 121RN Health & Safety Specialist; Dennis King, 121RN Associate Member.

SEIU 121RN nurses were active advocates throughout this year’s legislative session on bills that would affect the nursing and healthcare industries. The briefs below give the status of the bills our Local lobbied on:

Assembly Bill 72 by Assembly Member Rob Bonta will prohibit an out-of-network provider from charging a patient more than the in-network cost-sharing amount when that care is arranged through an in-network provider. Sets up extensive consumer protections and a minimum plan payment rate for non-contracted providers of either 125 percent of Medicare or the average contracted rate along with an independent dispute resolution process.

Status: AB 72 was signed into law by Governor Brown.

Senate Bill 1365 by Senator Ed Hernandez requires that the following notification be provided to patients when a hospital is scheduling a service at a hospital-based outpatient clinic: “The location where you are being scheduled to receive services is a hospital-based clinic, and, therefore, may have higher costs. The same service may be available at another location within our health system that is not hospital-based, which may cost less. Check with the [insert name of office] at [insert telephone number] for another location within our health system, or check with your health insurance company, for more information about other locations that may cost less.”

Status: SB 1365 was signed into law by Governor Brown.

Senate Bill 10 by Senator Ricardo Lara requires the state to request a waiver from federal rules to allow undocumented individuals to purchase healthcare coverage with NO subsidies (state or federal) through the California health insurance exchange, “Covered California.”

Status: SB 10 was signed into law by Governor Brown.

Senate Bill 1135 by Senator Bill Monning requires a healthcare service plan (health plan) or health insurer to provide enrollees with information regarding standards for timely access to care and interpreter services pursuant to existing law.

Status: SB 1135 was signed into law by Governor Brown.

Senate Bill 1195 by Senator Jerry Hill would have eliminated the requirement that the Executive Officer (EO) of the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) be a registered nurse. The EO is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the activities of the Board in areas of administration, enforcement and licensure.  The EO also serves as the liaison between the BRN and stakeholders. The EO enforces the overall policies established by the BRN.

Currently, the President of the BRN is not required to be a registered nurse. If this bill passes, the top two leaders of the BRN would no longer need to be registered nurses.

Status: Thanks to strong opposition by members of SEIU 121RN and the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, SB 1195 failed to move out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 840 by Assembly Member Sebastian Ridley-Thomas would prohibit mandatory overtime for registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), or certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who are employed in state hospitals and facilities. The bill also establishes an eight-member joint labor-management task force to make recommendations and develop a plan to reduce or eliminate mandatory overtime, as specified.

Status: AB 840 was vetoed by Governor Brown.

Assembly Bill 2272 by Assembly Member Tony Thurmond aimed to remove infectious airborne contaminants from surgical suites to protect patients and healthcare providers. It would have required the Occupational Safety & Standards Board (the Board) to adopt standards to protect healthcare personnel and patients from plume, defined as noxious airborne contaminants generated as byproducts of the use of specific devices during surgical, diagnostic, or therapeutic procedures. The bill would have also required that, in adopting these standards, the Board take into consideration and use as a benchmark certain standards adopted by specified organizations.

The bill would have specified that compliance with general room ventilation standards or the use of surgical masks or respirators does not satisfy the requirements for protection from surgical plumes.

Status: AB 2272 was vetoed by Governor Brown but we will continue to push for safer standards.

Senate Bill 1010 by Senator Ed Hernandez would have required health plans to provide a comprehensive and confidential report to healthcare regulators (the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) and California Department of Insurance (CDI) regarding the most prescribed drugs, the most costly prescription drugs, and the drugs with the highest year-over-year increase in cost. It would have required regulators to report annually on the impact of prescription drug costs on premiums. Would have required drug manufacturers to report to purchasers any planned price hikes or introduction of new drugs with an annual wholesale acquisition cost of more than $10,000. Would have required drug manufacturers to justify proposed price hikes.

Status: SB 1010 failed to move out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assembly Bill 2467 by Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez would have increased transparency of private hospitals in California by requiring public disclosure of executive compensation. Specifically, AB 2467 would have required disclosure of all salaries above $250,000 a year. Total annual compensation included wages, salary, paid time off, bonuses, incentive/lump-sum cash payments, severance payments, housing payments, or reimbursements for entertainment or social club membership.

The reasoning for the bill is that private hospitals in California receive billions of dollars in government funding and tax breaks. However, there is little accountability as to whether these taxpayer dollars are, in fact, being used to provide high-quality, affordable medical care, or if funds are being diverted to executive compensation packages. The data compiled under AB 2467 would have been submitted and made public by the Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development (OSHPD), which currently collects and publicly reports data on hospital financials, utilization and quality.

Status: AB 2467 failed to move off the Assembly Floor.

Senate Bill 323 by Senator Ed Hernandez would have allowed nurse practitioners (NPs) to work to the full scope of their licensure/education. It would have authorized a nurse practitioner who holds a national certification from a national certifying body recognized by the California Board of Registered Nursing to practice without the supervision of a physician and surgeon, if the nurse practitioner met existing requirements for nurse practitioners and practiced in one of certain specified settings.

Status: SB 323 failed to move out the Assembly Business & Professions Committee. We will continue to fight to ensure that patients have more access to professionals who are allowed to practice to the full scope of their license.

If you would like more information on these or any other bills or would like to participate in future legislative lobby visits, please contact SEIU 121RN Political Director Frank Torres at torresf@seiu121rn.org.

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