Schwarzenegger Releases Plan To Eliminate, Consolidate State Boards, Including Some Health-Related Bodies
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) during his State of the State address on Wednesday proposed consolidating or eliminating about 100 state regulatory boards, including some health-related commissions, the Sacramento Bee reports. Among others, Schwarzenegger called for the elimination of the Board of Registered Nursing and the consolidation of the responsibilities of the Medical Board of California to the state's consumer services agency (Delsohn, Sacramento Bee, 1/7).
Schwarzenegger also proposed consolidating the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board into a single, nine-member commission called the Employment and Benefits Appeals Board. The combined commission would be responsible for interpreting legislation related to injured workers, unsafe working conditions and unemployment payments. Schwarzenegger would appoint the board members and reserve the right to dismiss them at any time (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
Schwarzenegger's proposal is subject to legislative approval and will undergo hearings later this month by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight committee. The commission within the next two months will present its recommendations to Schwarzenegger and the Legislature.
Schwarzenegger must formally submit his proposal to the Legislature within 30 days, and the Senate or Assembly will make a decision on the proposal within 60 days of receipt.
California Nurses Association Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro in a statement said that eliminating the state nursing board is "an unconscionable power grab by a governor who wants to abolish independent agencies created to protect the public exclusively for the financial benefit of corporate interests, such as the multibillion-dollar health care industry that has been one of his primary donors and supporters."
California Medical Association President Robert Hertzka said changes to the medical board could remove state residents from the regulatory process. He added, "Maybe there's some wonderful thing in here I don't understand, but our initial reaction is one of concern" (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).
Referring to the consolidation of workers' compensation legislative responsibilities, labor attorney John Floyd said, "There is no way that an unemployment insurance administrative law judge can come close to understanding the complexities of the workers' compensation law" (Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights called the plan "the greatest threat we've ever faced to consumer protection in California." Court said, "This proposal is so far removed from understanding the day-to-day reality of how professional boards protect the public that it is worthy of a Hollywood amateur living in La La Land among fake sets."
State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Fred Aguiar said that he is not sure how much Schwarzenegger's plan would reduce state expenses. Aguiar said, "We firmly believe there will be more accountability, more direct responsibility through a structure that is not dependent upon calling upon some board of directors, calling them across the state to come to Sacramento and act on something that could have been decided earlier."
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Ashley Snee said, "The governor's plan ensures that necessary consumer protections and regulations are preserved, while service and accountability are improved. This is about streamlining and making the process more efficient." Snee said Schwarzenegger "personally reviewed the mission of each board and commission to evaluate whether" they were set up in "the best way" (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).
The Sacramento Bee on Friday published a list of 94 state boards and commissions that Schwarzenegger has proposed eliminating. Some health care-related boards included on the list appear below.
- California Health Policy and Data Advisory Committee
- Hearing Aid Dispensers Advisory Committee
- Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Treatment Task Force
- Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).