AB 5 Limits Access to Healthcare for Californians

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 General News
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Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are one of the many professions deeply impacted by this new law and Californians should be wary of how this will affect their healthcare delivery.

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- AB 5 has "unintended consequences" which are far-reaching, well beyond the employers that have, up until January 1, 2020, conducted their business through 1099 contracts. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are one of the many professions deeply impacted by this new law and Californians should be wary of how this will affect their healthcare delivery.

Who are CRNAs and what do they do? CRNAs are advanced practice registered nurses educated in anesthesiology and pain management. In California, more than 2,500 CRNAs administer anesthesia and pain management for everything from labor epidurals to open heart cardiac surgeries, to day-old infants, to our most frail older family members. CRNAs provide anesthesia services at academic teaching hospitals, freestanding ambulatory surgical centers, offices and specialty clinics throughout California and nationwide, and have been doing so for more than 150 years. Sometimes CRNAs collaborate with their physician anesthesiology colleagues. Often, CRNAs provide anesthesia independently, particularly in California's most rural communities. CRNAs are, in fact, the sole providers of anesthesia services in nine counties within the state. CRNAs are an economic solution to a bloated and financially overburdened healthcare system here in California and nationwide. With years of experience, advanced education, and a proven safety record equivalent to physician anesthesiologists, CRNAs provide outstanding care in an increasingly austere environment. A risk to the CRNA profession is a risk to your healthcare delivery, the viability of your healthcare facility, and your healthcare costs.

AB 5 has already cost CRNA jobs. Anesthesia staffing agencies are pulling out of California and hospitals are converting 1099 CRNA contracts into W2 employment; however, they are unable to offer competitive wages and benefits to retain their former 1099 contractors or attract new CRNAs to work in their facilities. Some healthcare systems are passing the inflated W2 labor costs directly onto patients—a potentially disruptive move that further threatens hospitals in rural and medically underserved areas. More than half of California CRNAs held a 1099 contract for a portion of their income before AB 5 was passed, so it is inevitable that this legislation will have a devastating impact on the CRNA profession and limit access to anesthesia services to Californians statewide. Only time will tell how that damage will affect the overall healthcare industry given the myriad of other health professionals who are also affected by AB 5. But the impact on the CRNA profession is unquestionable and something every Californian should find alarming.

Perhaps it is true that those behind AB 5 did not consider the risk to your healthcare. Perhaps the message from all the healthcare professionals impacted by AB 5 was lost in the frenzy to get this bill passed without amendments and get it to the Governor's desk prior to the September deadline. Let us concede this possibility and look for ways to work with the author and sponsors of AB 5 to fix the "unintended consequences" of this bill before it jeopardizes an already fragile healthcare system and costs Californians their access to the excellent, safe, and cutting edge anesthesia care that CRNAs deliver every day.


SOURCE California Association of Nurse Anesthetists (CANA)

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