The California Assembly bounced around the agenda and got close to AB 387 during more than 23 hours (over 2 days) of floor discussion, debate, and voting. However, they adjourned at 1 am (central) on June 2 without discussing the bill on the Assembly floor. Assembly Member Thurmond (bill sponsor) asked that the bill be moved to the “inactive file.” This was likely the result of the allied health and medical community (including AMT and CaSSAMT) inundating the Assembly Members with opposition, so Mr. Thurmond may have known he did not have enough votes. It is unknown whether Mr. Thurmond will try again next year
AMT and CaSSAMT Oppose California AB 387; Bill Would End Unpaid Clinical Internships in Allied Health (5/22/17)
American Medical Technologists and its California State Society (CaSSAMT) have registered their formal opposition to California Assembly Bill 387, which would effectively outlaw unpaid clinical internships for allied health students. The bill would expand the definition of “employer” for purposes of California employment law to include any person who directly or indirectly employs or exercises control over the wages, hours, or working conditions of a person engaged in a period of supervised work experience to satisfy requirements for licensure, registration, or certification as an allied health professional. Under that definition, any healthcare provider or facility that offers a clinical practicum site to an intern as part of an allied health education program would be required to pay the intern at least the minimum wage, or else be subject to criminal penalties.
Supporters of the bill claim it is necessary to even the playing field for women and minorities, who can ill afford to work without pay for the duration of a clinical internship. AB 387 is strongly opposed by numerous influential organizations, including the state medical and hospital associations, healthcare professional societies, career schools, community colleges, and many others. AB 387 nevertheless moved with alarming ease through the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee, where it passed by a 5-2 vote (along party lines) on March 29th.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on AB 387 on May 3rd, but committee staff released an analysis of the bill on May 1st which predicted that the legislation would have a significant fiscal impact. The Committee therefore placed the bill on its “Suspense” list, to be considered without live testimony (along with over 500 other bills having a significant budgetary impact) on May 26th.
CaSSAMT and AMT sent a joint letter opposing the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 1, 2017. The letter stated that although well-intended, AB 387 would have devastating impacts on allied health education programs and, ultimately, on the employers and patients who depend on clinical lab professionals, medical assistants, and other allied health practitioners to provide essential services. If healthcare facilities are treated as “employers” with respect to all allied health interns, most will likely discontinue offering those opportunities to students. There is already a shortage of clinical externship sites, and this legislation would dramatically decrease the availability of those sites in the future.
(Link to opposition letter)