California State Assembly Bill 1278 , which would grant network entities unprecedented control over Medical Provider Networks (MPNs), is on the shelf for now — but the fight for injured workers’ right to choose their physicians is far from over.
AB 1278 was “Referred to suspense file” on May 18, 2023, and remains “In committee: held under submission.” Normally, this would mean the bill is dying slowly in legislative limbo, which would be a significant win for all injured workers.
Unfortunately, injured workers (and their physicians) can’t celebrate just yet.
daisyBill sources report the network entities that sponsored AB 1278 are pledging to find “other bills to use” to secure the right to coordinate physician care within MPNs. In other words, these network entities are apparently not giving up and are attempting to resuscitate AB 1278.
If AB 1278’s sponsors (network entities including Coventry, MedRisk, Conduent, and others) succeed in planting the bill’s language into other legislation, all injured workers in California are in jeopardy of losing their right to choose their physician, not just injured workers covered by MPNs.
Since California does not maintain a functioning employer MPN database, it’s anyone’s guess as to which employers utilize approved MPNs. The failure to offer a way to verify whether an employer’s MPN restricts a given injured worker ’s choice of providers means this legislature — if allowed to revive the aims of AB 1278 — would strangle physician choice for potentially every injured worker in the state.