Good News! AB 937 Will Not Go to Senate in 2017
by Karl Steinberg MD CMD HMDC
CALTCM President-Elect 

Last week, CALTCM received good news in the form of a decision by Assembly Member Susan Eggman to convert AB 937 (covered in the Wave last month, click here to view article) to a two-year bill.  This bill, which would have created additional complexity to medical decision-making around end-of-life issues, and would undoubtedly impair decisionally incapacitated patients’ ability to receive orders for treatment concordant with their wishes based on surrogates’ representations, was supported by attorneys including Bar Association groups and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR).  The only organizations opposed to this legislation were the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) and CALTCM.

After meeting with the author and others involved in the bill, including representatives from the California Medical Association (CMA), the decision was made to hold off on sending the bill, which already passed the Assembly,  to the Senate this session.  This will give all stakeholders time to discuss the issues that prompted the bill’s creation, factors around what constitutes a “legally recognized decisionmaker” (as described in AB 3000, the law that created POLST in California), and whether current law is adequate to protect incapacitated patients from receiving unwanted treatment (or not receiving wanted treatment)—which CALTCM believes it is adequate.

The bill is not “dead,” and may still go to the Senate in 2017.  If it does, we are hopeful that it will have reasonable amendments that all parties can accept.  If it goes in its current form, we will continue to offer strong opposition to it for the reasons detailed in last month’s Wave.   

CALTCM’s Policy and Professional Services Committee and our Executive Committee express thanks to those members who took action on this matter by contacting their legislators and their other organizations and employers to mobilize the opposition.  We may need to call on you again next year, so stay tuned.