Action – Want to really “celebrate nursing?” Call your legislators and tell them “YES” on AB 664.
This isn’t just the worst National Nurses Week ever, (May 6th-May 12th), it’s also the worst “National Nurses Month” and the worst “Year of the Nurse and Midwife,” – calendar events to “expand opportunities to elevate and celebrate nursing.” Along with caring for patients, nurses are having to join protest lines to publicize their lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), to remind the public that medical personnel are endangered, and to keep protestors from blocking ambulance access. Nationwide, more than 9,000 healthcare workers have comfirmed positive for COVID-19 with over 80 deaths. In CA there are over 3,155 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases of nurses and health care workers, and four fatalities.
Last Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that presumes front line workers who contracted COVID-19 were infected on the job (Yes, unbelievably, hospitals assume otherwise) and are therefore entitled to workers’ compensation. Although this order covers more workers than similar ones in other states, it requires a positive diagnoses when testing is still are to get and lasts for just 2 months.
AB 664 – “Workers’ compensation: injury: communicable disease” goes further. It would provide nurses, first responders like firefighters and police officers, and health care workers with a stronger “presumptive eligibility” for workers’ compensation for those exposed to COVID-19 during a state of emergency and applies to provider-ordered quarentines, any communicable disease for the length of the emergency and has a stronger presumption that can’t be challenged by employers. As you can see from the status bar below, this bill has passed the Assembly and is now in the Senate.
Minimium script to ALL state senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want State Senator [___] to vote “YES” on AB 664 to support our RNs, first responders, and other health care workers exposed to COVID-19
Minimium script to Assemblymembers: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Assemblymember [___] for voting “YES” on AB 664 to support our CA front line workers.
Check here. (Limón and Irwin voted “YES”)
State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (SD-19): SAC (916) 651-4019, SB (805) 965-0862, OX (805)988-1940 email
State Assemblymember Monique Limón (CA-37): SAC (916) 319-2037, SB (805) 564-1649, VTA (805) 641-3700 email
State AssemblymemberJacqui Irwin (CA-44): SAC (916) 319-2044 CAM (805) 482-1904 email
Not your people? Which assemblymember is mine?: findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.
Deeper Dive – What is “presumptive eligibility?”
(From National Nurses United) California is one of many states that have laws that grant some public safety employees, such as police officers and firefighters, “presumptive eligibility” for workers’ compensation. However, nurses have no such protections at all, even though, by the nature of their work, they suffer some of the highest risks of injury and illness of any profession. This bill would correct this unfair treatment.
“Presumptive eligibility” for workers’ compensation, means that if the employee sustains certain injuries or becomes infected with certain diseases like COVID-19, the injury or illness is presumed to be job related and makes him or her automatically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
“Nurses across the country do not have the protections they need during this pandemic, which is why it’s so critical that they are automatically eligible for workers’ comp for COVID-19,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of CNA/National Nurses United. “We have heard reports from nurses who have been told they contracted their COVID-19 infection in the community and that they should use their sick or vacation time. That is outrageous, especially given the highly contagious nature of the virus that causes COVID-19. Nurses on the front lines of this crisis deserve presumptive eligibility now.”
“These deaths could have been prevented if only nurses had been provided with the proper equipment to protect themselves,” said Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of CNA/NNU. “It is time to change the workers’ compensation system to benefit nurses rather than big employers. We want to take care of the sick, but when we ourselves fall ill because of our daily sacrifices, we should all be provided with the security written into AB 664. Protect nurses now so we can keep taking care of your friends and families during this pandemic.”
Under AB 664, workplace protections would include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits to nurses and other health care workers, police officers, and firefighters who contract COVID-19 or any communicable disease. In addition, they are also entitled to reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical and living expenses required while performing their essential duties. An employee eligible for workers’ compensation should not be required to use accrued vacation leave, personal leave, compensatory leave, sick leave, or any other leave, other than applicable benefits made available in order to be reimbursed.
AB 664 is sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, California Professional Firefighters, and the California Nurses Association.