AB 749 Just Steps From the Governor

On Thursday, August 26, the CALTCM-sponsored AB 749 (Nazarian) got off the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File to continue its journey through the legislative process. This was a huge moment for CALTCM and medical director certification in California.  While we have several steps to go, the Suspense File is where many bills are stopped in the process.  There will be many stories in the press about bills no longer moving forward this year and that’s due to the suspense file process in both legislative chambers.

Most significantly, AB 749 has not received any “No” votes throughout the process.  That illustrates CALTCM’s advocacy efforts and much collaboration/negotiation with supporters and other stakeholders. 

The next steps include being heard on the Senate Floor, then back to the Assembly to concur with the minor amendments taken in the Senate, then on to the Governor for signature.  AB 749 must be sent to the Governor by September 10 which is the end of the 2021 legislative session.

CONTACT YOUR SENATOR! AB 749 will be taken up on the Senate Floor at any time.  Call or email your State Senator today and ask them to support AB 749.  CALTCM will be very busy contacting all Senators but there is no stronger voice than a CALTCM Member speaking directly to your own Senator.  There is still a lot of work to do and we appreciate your involvement in the process.  http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov

For those who want to review the latest version of AB 749, here is a link to the bill: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB749&showamends=false 

AB 749 overview: The following is taken from the original AB 749 Wave Article published May 3, 2021 by Michael Wasserman, MD, CMD:

AB 749 requires nursing home medical directors in California to be certified by the American Board of Post-Acute and Long Term Care Medicine. AB 749 will help ensure that every medical director in California is prepared to provide effective oversight of quality and safety in their nursing homes. For decades, Senate Committees, OIG reports, peer-reviewed papers and industry experts have acknowledged the value of competent and engaged medical directors. We can no longer hope that the right thing happens on its own accord. It’s time to require that all nursing home medical directors be certified.

Nursing homes care for the complex and vulnerable. The pandemic has reminded us just how vulnerable our residents are with nearly 10,000 resident deaths in California. Nursing homes are mini-hospitals, demanding the active engagement of medical directors with clinical, regulatory, bioethics, and management expertise. The importance of this role has been known for decades. By federal regulation the medical director is explicitly responsible for coordinating medical care in the nursing home. Yet, many nursing home medical directors are woefully unprepared to do this. Requiring medical director certification provides clear recognition of their value and importance.

Certification is self-paced, web-based, and does not require an examination. It respects the professionalism of the physician while recognizing that most residency and fellowship training programs do not provide the knowledge and skills necessary for a doctor to be prepared for the responsibility of coordinating medical care in a facility. Allowing the status quo to continue, sends a clear message that we do not value our vulnerable nursing home residents or the quality of care they receive. In the wake of the tragic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to take this simple step of requiring certification. That is why CALTCM is proud to have sponsored AB 749.

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