In early 2023, the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions began their extensive sunset review oversight of eight regulatory entities, among them the Medical Board of California (MBC). As a result, Senate Bill 815 (SB 815) was introduced by Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside).
The bill revises the Medical Practices Act and seeks to introduce reforms to the MBC.
“This legislation is all about protecting patients, lifting up consumers and making sure that the State’s watchdog actually has teeth,” said Roth. “SB 815 improves physician oversight, which is not only important for patients, but also critical for the overwhelming majority of dedicated physicians who are upstanding and play by the rules.”¹
The bill, among other provisions, contains patient safety reforms endorsed by patient advocates and Consumer Watchdog, which include:
- Increasing rights for patients in the enforcement process, including a mandatory interview before a complaint is closed; the right to submit a victim impact statement before discipline, and creating a Complainant Liaison Unit comprised of board staff that will engage directly with the public
- Creating a public member majority board structure by adding two public members to the MBC, to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the Assembly
- Implementing a licensing fee increase to adequately fund the board's operations without the use of state funds by proposing an increase of physician and surgeon fees to $1,289
- Adopting a lesser "preponderance of evidence" standard that is used by 41 other state medical boards
- Amending the Act to require a licensee who is under investigation to participate in an interview no later than 30 days after being notified by MBC, eliminating the licensee’s ability to postpone for “good cause”
The Medical Board of California previously endorsed many of the changes contained in SB 815.
In support of the bill is the Consumer Protection Policy Center. Opposition for SB 815 was registered by the California Medical Association.
SB 815 passed the State Senate at the end of May by a vote of 32-1, with the remaining nine members abstaining. SB 815 is now headed to the State Assembly for consideration.
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government andExternal Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to GVillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.