Schwarzenegger May Veto ‘Last-Minute’ Legislation; Move Could Affect Nursing Home Reimbursement Bill
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is "threatening to veto last-minute legislation that pops up" before the end of the legislative session on Aug. 31 under a practice called "gut and amend," a move that could affect a bill (AB 1629) related to nursing home reimbursements, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Times, legislation "shows up seemingly out of nowhere" each year and is "rushed through the Assembly and Senate without much public scrutiny." Under gut and amend, lawmakers remove the provisions of "dormant or dead bills" and replace them with new legislation, a practice that effectively allows lawmakers to introduce new bills after the deadline to propose legislation passes, the Times reports.
Lawmakers and nursing home advocates this week announced that they would replace the provisions of a bill related to hospitals with a "sweeping overhaul of how nursing homes are reimbursed," the Times reports (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 8/13). AB 1629, sponsored by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale), would allow the state to use $250 million in federal funds to increase Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for nursing homes. Under the bill, the state would require health care providers to pay a quality assurance fee to obtain the federal funds (California Healthline, 8/12).
Frommer and other lawmakers said the bill resulted from years of negotiations that state law required them to complete this month, according to the Times. Lawmakers will hold a hearing on the bill next week.
Richard Costigan, legislative secretary for Schwarzenegger, said, "I keep telling folks: Recognize that it can take us months to get departments, finance and agencies to do analyses," adding, "A gut-and-amend is not going to be looked upon favorably unless there is a compelling public interest."
Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco) said that lawmakers must have the ability to use the practice because "there is always something that either fell through the cracks or you need to do something to clean up another bill." He added that Schwarzenegger "ought to veto bills based on the merits and not on gut and amend" (Los Angeles Times, 8/13).