Now that AB 1542 (Mathis and Cooley) has passed the Senate, 39 to 0, having already passed the Assembly, 79 to 0, we have a unique situation wherein the Governor is being pressured by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to veto a bill that has unanimous bipartisan support. The reason given by DIR Director Christine Baker for public consumption is that "the California Board of Psychology does not recognize neurospsychology as a subspecialty in psychology."
On the other hand, the same California Board of Psychology accepts the American Psychological Association's (APA) recognition of specialists in neuropsychology. In short, the APA recognizes neuropsychologists. Given these facts, it is difficult to fathom why DIR should object to AB 1542 unless there are other reasons we don't yet know about. What we are left with is that a specialty with national recognition is being denied recognition in California.
Medical specialists involved in the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) also recognize the specialty role provided by the neuropsychology specialists, for instance, the American Academy of Neurology has published on this matter since 1966.
In my personal letter to the Governor, I indicated that the DIR position, if the Governor bows to it, is likely to increase litigation since the current easy access to neuropsyche Qualified Medical Evaluations will be impeded. It will then be up to the applicants' lawyers to fight tooth-and-nail for neuropsyche evaluations for their TBI clients and for the defense lawyers to forestall successful litigation by the applicants' lawyers. Lawyers who fail to support their applicants' cases to the hilt may find themselves on the wrong side of a malpractice suit.
The same goes for the physicians who treat and evaluate injured workers. Failure to obtain neuropsyche assessment may be seen as a dereliction of duty by the physician, enough so that the physicians themselves become subject to potential liability or malpractice claims.
Disallowing recognition of neuropsychologists harms brain-injured workers and impairs the ability of the workers compensation system to take care of injured workers with TBI. Employers are also harmed when TBI patients are not properly assessed with reference to return to work status or feasibility for continued employment.
AB 1542 preserves access of injured workers to neuropsychological expertise. I believe that should be enough reason for the Governor to sign AB 1542 into law.