Governor Signs Senator Ochoa Bogh’s Bill Protecting Rights of Established Speech-Language Pathologists

Senator Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa) announced Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 612. This pivotal bill provides clarity regarding the application of training requirements for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) performing specific diagnostic procedures.

“With the signing of SB 612, we’ve ensured that our experienced speech-language pathologists can continue serving patients without unnecessary hindrances,” said Senator Ochoa Bogh. “This is especially vital as we continue to address the health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the pandemic’s aftermath, many patients have required a Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) assessment, crucial in determining dysphagia issues often stemming from intubation. SLPs play an integral role in this diagnostic process, which became more streamlined with SB 1453 (Ochoa Bogh, Chapter 450, Statutes of 2022) passed in 2022.

SB 1453 allowed SLPs to perform FEES without repeated authorizations from an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor. Instead, it required them to receive a one-time written verification of competency after a defined number of supervised procedures. However, ambiguities surrounding the retroactive application of this bill posed challenges for SLPs already holding such verification before 2023.

Senate Bill 612 addresses this oversight, ensuring that the additional training stipulations implemented by SB 1453 will only affect SLPs obtaining their written verification of competency on or post-January 1, 2023. This clarification ensures that experienced SLPs won’t have to spend valuable patient time verifying their ability to perform the FEES procedure.

This clarification safeguards the rights of SLPs who were already practicing FEES before this year.

“SB 612 will allow previously certified competent SLPs to continue to perform FEES in their settings across the state. Senator Ochoa Bogh has been a champion for the health of our community members, and we appreciate her stepping up yet again to ensure that our California community has access to timely swallow evaluations administered by speech-language pathologists,” said Marcella Cardoza McCollum, Board Chair, California Speech Language Hearing Association.

“We are grateful to Senator Ochoa Bogh for her dedication to ensuring that Californians throughout the state will once again have access to timely evaluations that impact their health and ability to safely swallow. Speech-language pathologists are the primary professionals who provide this important evaluation and we appreciate the Senator’s advocacy in ensuring that our previously certified competent SLPs are able to complete these evaluations,” Cardoza McCollum concluded.

Having received unanimous approval in both the Assembly and Senate, this bill signifies a collaborative understanding of the importance of clarity in the healthcare sector.