By Divya Sriharan
On February 14, 2022, California Assemblymember Quirk introduced AB 2060, a bill sponsored by the Medical Board of California (MBC) that would establish a public member majority on the Board.
Specifically, the bill would amend sections 2001, 2007, and 2008 of the Business and Professions Code to increase the number of public members on the Board from seven to eight members. The bill would also require the first vacant licensee position occurring after January 1, 2023, to become a public member position.
The push for this legislation comes from both the Board and the general public. Over the past few years, MBC has received criticism for its leniency toward bad doctors, ranging from negligent doctors to doctors with pending sexual assault charges. The perceived inaction of MBC has resulted in significant distrust by the public, which led to calls for MBC to change the composition of the Board to give the public more sway and more seats at the table.
This bill would shift the Board’s power into the public’s hands. Under current law, the Board is authorized to carry out disciplinary actions against licensees and create panels of at least four members for this purpose. AB 2060 would amend section 2008, which currently prohibits a public majority on panels, to instead prohibit a panel from being comprised of more licensed physicians or surgeons than public members. The significance of this shift is that the public will have more power to carry out disciplinary actions against licensees, which is what consumer advocate boards have been requesting. [26:2 CRLR 46–50]
In a press release announcing the introduction of the bill, Assemblymember Quirk stated, “[c]onsumer protection boards should be composed of a majority of people who are members of the public, rather than those of the profession they regulate. It is a feature that should be included in all boards.” The press release also quotes, Board President Kristina Lawson, who commented on the Board’s hope that a public member majority “will be a meaningful step toward restoring public and stakeholder confidence.” During its contentious sunset review process last year, MBC voted to support its sunset legislation (SB 806 (Roth) (Chapter 649, Statutes of 2021) if amended to provide for a public member majority, but the author opted not to amend the bill as requested. [27:1 CRLR 53–57]
A hearing on the bill is scheduled to take place before the Assembly Business & Professions Committee on April 19, 2022.