Gipson Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Community Paramedicine

Thursday, January 18, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif --- As part of the 2018 legislative year, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson)  introduced his first bill to give counties the authority to develop Community Paramedicine programs that allow patients with mental health needs to have more direct access to appropriate care and reduce the burden on local health care systems.

“Many of us have personally experienced waiting in an emergency room for hours at a time. Emergency departments have a primary responsibility, which is to serve as a rapid response to emergencies – whether they are individual medical crises or mass disasters. They are not well-equipped to serve patients who have mental health care needs or people with substance abuse problems, as they often require specialized care and access to supportive services,” said Asm. Gipson. “California’s health care needs have evolved over time and the current emergency response system must be updated to reflect this. AB 1795 will ensure that well-trained paramedics will have the option to direct a person to a mental health urgent care center or sobering center to receive timely and appropriate care, if the county authorizes alternate destination care into their emergency response plan.”

Recently, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Janice Hahn, unanimously voted to support commonsense reform under AB 1795 (Gipson) to allow paramedics to bring patients to mental health urgent care centers and sobering centers.

“The bottom line is that if people like you and I can take an individual to a sobering center or a mental health urgent care center, why can’t a highly trained medical professional do the same?” said Supervisor Hahn.  “Our mental health urgent care centers and the sobering center at Skid Row were designed to provide humane, compassionate care, tailored to meet the needs of their patients. This change is commonsense. Our paramedics’ hands are tied by an outdated state law.”

Under existing law, paramedics responding to a 9-1-1 call are required to direct people to an emergency department. Yet, in 2016 alone, emergency departments statewide were visited over 14.5 million times – an ever-increasing and unsustainable trend that puts the lives of patients at risk as hospital wait times continue to go up.

AB 1795 is co-sponsored by Los Angeles County and the California Hospital Association, and supported by the California Ambulance Association. This measure is currently awaiting assignment by the Assembly Rules Committee for its first hearing.

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