Legislative Updates

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  • 07/05/2013 1:50 PM | Constance Rock, LM, CPM

    AB 1308, authored by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, was heard by the Senate Business & Professions Committee in Sacramento last Monday, July 1st. We had over 250 midwifery supporters come to the Capitol to attend this hearing. The committee room was standing room only with a large crowd spilling into the hallway outside. 

    Before the hearing, this bill contained a provision that, if passed, would restate the unattainable physician supervision requirement for licensed midwives, and require revised regulations about supervision. During the hearing, this problematic provision was removed from the bill and AB 1308 was voted unanimously (10 ayes - 0 noes) out of the committee!

    Although language to remove the existing physician supervision requirement from the Licensed Midwifery Practice Act was not yet added to the bill, I spoke to the senators about the impossibility of meeting this requirement. Adeola Adeseun, president of California Families for Access to Midwives (CFAM) spoke about the barrier to midwifery care that physician supervision imposes for women on Medi-Cal. After a thorough discussion of the problem, Senator Ed Hernandez asked why Assemblywoman Bonilla didn't just remove physician supervision immediately. The midwifery supporters both inside and outside the room roared with approval at his suggestion. The majority of the senators in the room agreed that this problem must be fixed.  Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla then committed to the committee that she would amend AB1308 to remove physician supervision from existing law. 

    This huge victory in our 20 year long fight for independence was then celebrated at the CFAM rally where Susan Bonilla again promised to amend the bill to remove physician supervision from current law. After the rally the large group of attendees visited with their senators to ask them to vote yes on AB 1308. 

    The bill will be heard next in Senate Appropriations and then on the Senate floor. If it passes through both, it will go to the governor to be signed into law. 

    CAM is working closely with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla to make amendments to the bill that we can support while also addressing ACOG's concern for limiting liability for physicians who consult with or receive transfers from licensed midwives. We have excellent legal council working with us and will have draft language ready before the bill goes to Senate Appropriations. 

    What we need from you is to continue meeting with your senators and asking every midwifery supporter you know to call, write or visit their senator. The only way this bill will pass is if all 40 California state senators know how important it is to California families. 

  • 06/26/2013 7:32 AM | Sarah Davis
    Updates from CAM's week at the capitol:

    • CAM has Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla’s confirmation that favorable amendments are to be made to AB1308 in the Senate Business and Professions committee hearing on Monday, July 1.

    • Assemblywoman Bonilla, author of AB 1308, has graciously accepted an invitation to speak at the California Families for Access to Midwives’ rally to be held at the State Capital on Monday july 1st

    • CAM is assured that current language referring to physician supervision and rewriting our standards of care will be removed from the amendments to AB 1308.

    • AB 1308 will not move forward with anything in it that will hurt midwives.

    • No matter how this bill may change there is one message that is unchanging throughout that can be used in any phone call or letter written – removal of physician supervision.

    • This legislation isn’t finished being written. Progress happens bit-by-bit and amendments are made in committee in an ongoing basis. While there are no short-cuts, your support is vital to our success.

    • CAM president, Constance Rock, and vice president, Sara Davis, are in Sacramento now working feverishly with state legislators, lobbyists, midwives and fhttp://www.californiamidwives.org/Admin/default.aspxamilies to move this legislation along. It is intense and exhausting work, but it is paying off.

    •The impact of constituent’s phone calls on the legislative offices can’t be overstated. Encourage your clients to call their state senator and assembly member to ask for removal of physician supervision for licensed midwives.
  • 06/14/2013 10:24 AM | Sarah Davis
    The Assembly bill regarding licensed midwifery, AB 1308 by Susan Bonilla, was amended yesterday. These amendments are one step toward the achievement of our legislative goals this year, but not the final step. While CAM officers have worked hard for these amendments, which will decrease barriers to safe care, and increase access to licensed midwives for California families, CAM is continuing to push for the most important amendment to the bill: removing the physician supervision requirement and all reference to creating standards of care defining physician supervision.

    The June 13th amendments:
    • Add the term "drugs", therefore authorizing licensed midwives to directly "obtain and administer drugs and diagnostic tests" that are necessary to midwifery practice.
    • Clarify that a midwife does not need to identify a specific physician and surgeon in her/his licensed midwife disclosure to clients regarding referral for complications.
    • Add licensed midwives as providers to the licensing law for alternative birth centers.  Only CNMs and physicians can currently attend births at licensed alternative birth centers, which impacts access to midwives for many families.
    • Reflect the name change of the organization the American Association of Birth Centers, formerly known as the National Association of Childbearing Centers.
    See AB1308 here: http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_1301-1350/ab_1308_bill_20130613_amended_sen_v97.pdf
  • 06/03/2013 12:45 PM | Sarah Davis
    Updates regarding SB 304 and the Medical Board of California

    SB 304 – the Medical Board Sunset Review bill – as currently amended, will take investigation and enforcement away from the medical board and give it to Department of Justice instead.  SB 304 has passed through the Aenate and is now in the Assembly.

    The California Medical Board has called a special meeting on Tuesday, June 4th to discuss the continued employment of its Executive Director Linda Whitney and the selection of an Acting Executive Director. Linda Whitney has been an ally to Licensed Midwives and we do not know what will happen with a new Executive Director. CAM officers will be present at the meeting tomorrow and will post updates after the special meeting.

    Specifically related to licensed midwives, SB 304 authorizes CNMs to supervise students studying to become licensed midwives during their supervised clinical training, and states that bona fide midwifery students must be enrolled in a board approved clinical training program.

    Updates regarding AB 1308

    AB 1308, as currently amended, authorizes licensed midwives to obtain supplies and testing, but does not yet meet the needs stated by CAM and consumer advocates to protect families' access to midwifery care, and to protect the practice of midwifery. CAM continues to advocate for specific amendments to AB 1308.  AB 1308 has passed out of the Assembly and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. A hearing date has not yet been set.

  • 04/11/2013 3:44 PM | Sarah Davis
    Last week CAM officers continued to build relationships with the members of the Senate and Assembly Business and Professions Committees. We were accompanied by our lobbyists from Paul Hastings, as well as our extremely effective junior lobbyist, baby Lucía, pictured here at the Capitol with CAM president Constance Rock.

    We met with Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, who is authoring AB 1308: Midwifery, and had the opportunity to hear her perspectives and goals with the bill as well as share our own.  While we were unable to secure the specifics of the bill in this meeting, Assemblymember Bonilla committed to CAM that the legislation will be positive for midwives.  Two of her own children were born with midwives and she understands the importance of the care that midwives offer to mothers and babies. The bill is set for hearing on April 23rd, and a CAM representative will be present to testify.

    We then had a productive meeting with staff and other stakeholders, working through the wording of the next version of the AB 1308.  The legislative process is unpredictable, and bills change quickly and often, but we are optimistic that some of CAM's legislative priorities will be addressed as the bill is amended.

    We also met with the office of Senator Price regarding the sunset review bill for the Medical Board, SB 304. We brought to their attention the provision allowing CNMs to supervise student LMs into the bill, and we have been informed that language authorizing CNMs to supervise student LMs has been added.  Good news for students in California! SB 304 will be heard in committee on April 29th.

    There is still much work to be done, but each time we enter a legislative office and make connections with staff who really 'get' the reality of the maternity care crisis in the US, we feel more confident that change will come for families and midwives in California over the next several years. 

    For our legislation to be effective, we'll need the support of you and consumers around the state. In the near future, we'll be asking for your help with key action steps, from calls, letter writing, and legislative visits to providing support for the newly forming consumer group California Families For Access to Midwives. For now, you can show your support by sharing this update with your California midwifery e-mail lists, local birth groups, and anyone you think should be kept up-to-date on this important legislative work.
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