Saturday, 01 October 2022

Disaster relief bill passes state Senate Policy Committee

SACRAMENTO A key Senate committee on Tuesday passed a bill by Patty Berg that would protect Californians from the kind of red tape snafus that slowed the flow of emergency aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina.


“Californians do not need red tape during disasters,” said Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka. “My bill will prevent this by allowing doctors and nurses to help Californians in their time of need.”


Under Assembly Bill 64, California officials would recognize out-of-state medical licenses of emergency volunteers during a declared state emergency. The bill would establish a system where California medical professionals can also register their credentials so they can help fellow Americans in other states.


During the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, volunteer doctors and nurses were prevented from giving aid because they did not have Louisiana or Mississippi medical licenses. One such volunteer, Robert Edinger, told the Lexington Herald Journal that he was unable to help Hurricane Katrina victims on the gulf coast because he lacked a Mississippi nursing license.


“We must prevent the horrors of red tape during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort from happening in California,” said Berg. “Californians must never wait entire days or weeks for help when it is a life and death situation.”


Assembly Bill 64 is part of a national effort to create a national registry where medical professionals, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists and members of the funeral home industry can help in other states besides their home state. Kentucky and Colorado have enacted similar legislation.


The California Nurses Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the California Association of Physician Groups, the California Dental Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the California Society of Health System Pharmacists, the California Federation for Animal Legislation, the California Professional Firefighters Association, and the Regional Council of Rural Counties support the bill.


The Senate Governmental Organization Committee voted unanimously in favor of AB 64. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.


Visit Berg's Web site at http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/members/a01/.

 

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