Saturday, 15 June 2024

Disaster relief bill passes assembly

SACRAMENTO The Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill by Assemblywoman Patty Berg that would protect Californians from the kind of red tape fiascos that kept doctors from Hurricane Katrina victims.

“Emergency response should be free from red tape during disasters,” Berg, D-Eureka, said in a statement. “These are life and death situations.”

Assembly Bill 64 would require California officials to recognize the out-of-state medical licenses of emergency volunteers during a declared state emergency, according to Berg's statement.

At the same time, Berg said the bill would create a system for California’s health care workers to register their credentials so that other states could benefit from their expertise in a disaster.

During the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, volunteer doctors and nurses were prevented from giving aid because they lacked Louisiana medical licenses, Berg reported.

Dr. Dan Diamond, a physician from Seattle, told the San Francisco Chronicle that it took five days for him and other doctors to get on the ground in New Orleans as opposed to 48 hours during the Indonesian tsunami aftermath in 2004.

“Each hour a doctor or nurse is delayed is an hour that a Californian goes without help,” said Berg. “Red tape should not cause Californians to die.”

Assembly Bill 64 is part of a multi-state effort to create a national registry. Kentucky enacted similar legislation, and six other states have introduced legislation.

AB 64 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

For more information about Berg and her legislation, or to contact her office, visit her Web site at


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