Senator Richard Pan Introduces Legislation to Address Growing Demand for Physician Care at California State Facilities

February 18, 2021

SACRAMENTO—Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator representing the Sacramento region announced the introduction of Senate Bill 422, a measure that will amend the State Civil Services Act so that the State can expand healthcare services at state prisons and hospitals.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic there is an urgent need to improve accountability and continuity of care at California State facilities,” said Dr. Senator Richard Pan. “This best can be achieved by providing patients entrusted with state care greater access to the quality care provided by state physicians.”

SB 422 is sponsored by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD), which was founded by a private practice physician in 1972, and has grown into the largest union representing licensed doctors in the US.  “Current civil service laws limit the ability for state physicians to work additional hours which can disrupt a patient’s continuity and quality of care,” said Dr. Stuart Bussey, president of UAPD. “This legislation will improve patient care, all the while saving taxpayer dollars by reducing the State’s dependency on costly contractors.”

SB 422 is modeled after a successful Los Angeles County partnership with UAPD and would allow the state to establish an employment registry for state physicians and other professionals who wish to remain at their place of employment but seek additional work through flexible scheduling.

As of July 2020, data reveals a vacancy rate of 29% among all state medical professionals, and within some state agencies the vacancy rate for psychiatrists ranges from 47%-87%.  To partially satisfy the state’s lack of physicians, private contractors are utilized at a much greater cost to California taxpayers.

Senate Bill 422 will also establish eligibility and compensation for registry work.  The bill would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Department of State Hospitals, by January 1, 2026, to conduct a study of the effectiveness of the registry to determine if the registry compensation rates were successful in addressing the operational needs for flexible services at a lower cost than contract registries.