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CEO Message

Protecting Patients by Protecting Health Care Professionals

One of the hottest bills in the Legislature right now is a proposal that would codify the precedent set by a California Supreme Court decision (the Dynamex decision), effectively prohibiting independent contractor status and requiring individuals to be employed instead. The struggle over Assembly Bill 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) has been framed publicly as largely a contest between technology companies, like Uber and Lyft, and labor unions.

But there’s more to it than that. AB 5 and the Dynamex decision would deny thousands of health care professionals — including nurse practitioners, social workers, certified nurse anesthetists, and others — the choice to decide how and when they work. If that happens, their ability to serve patients when and how they’re needed would be impaired.

Likewise, hospitals would lose critical flexibility to respond to patients’ needs, and to solve complex workforce issues. Outside hospitals and within our communities, access to specialty care could also be diminished, as occupational and physical therapy, home health services, and some mental health services are often provided by independent contractors.

Our message to legislators has been that eliminating employment choice for health care professionals threatens access to care. Recognizing the impact of fresh voices in Sacramento, CHA has drawn on a set of new advocacy strategies:

  • A full-court press “lobby day,” where nearly 60 health care professionals whose jobs would be affected met with 30 different lawmakers’ offices
  • A letter-writing campaign for professionals affected by the bill, asking their legislators to support an amendment
  • An opinion editorial in a Sacramento-based publication widely read at the State Capitol

Heading into Labor Day weekend, we are grateful for the entire hospital workforce in California — the 97% who are traditionally employed, and the 3% who choose to be independent contractors. We stand as their advocates for policies that allow them to continue to provide incredible care to their communities.

Stay tuned, as the battle over AB 5 is likely to last through the end of session in mid-September. We may yet call on you to join us in urging state lawmakers to protect the way health care is delivered in California.

— Carmela