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Assemblyman Fong introduces new bill to increase access to medical care and battle California's nursing shortage

Assemblyman Vince Fong

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County) announced the introduction of legislation to increase access to medical care providers and battle California's nurse shortage, particularly in light of the current pandemic. AB 410 would enter California into the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), an interstate agreement with 34 states that grants license reciprocity for Registered Nurses (RNs). As a member of the NLC, RNs in any Compact state would be eligible to practice in California.

"During this pandemic, we have seen our frontline workers and hospitals overwhelmed by California's nursing shortage," said Assemblyman Vince Fong. "COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for licensing flexibility to provide our communities with more nurses. We must remove bureaucracy and regulations in order to streamline the recruitment of out-of-state nurses, provide relief for our frontline workers, and get patients the quality care they need."

"Joining the NLC would be a huge step forward," said Russell Judd, CEO, Kern Medical. "As the safety net public hospital for Kern County, we provide care for the most vulnerable patients in our underserved community. The nursing shortage increases health care costs and impacts the scope of care we can provide to patients."

"We are pleased to support AB 410, which will extend access to licensed nurses and sustain healthcare providers' ability to offer and address necessary services," said Kenneth Keller, CEO, Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. "Having access to qualified nurses through the Compact will ensure our ability to address the needs of our community and provide patients the best care in the right setting."

AB 410 would also allow military spouses stationed in California to continue practicing nursing immediately, rather than waiting months to gain a California license.

"We are fortunate to have the China Lake Naval Base bring many military couples to our area, and many spouses are clinicians. These nurses are licensed in several states, but the long delay associated with obtaining California's RN license impacts their ability to provide care," said Jim Suver, CEO, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. "Being the only hospital with specialized services within two hours of most of our patients, AB 410 is critical for our rural hospital."

The bill will be referred to the Assembly Business and Professions Committee for a hearing in the coming months.