California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Legislature Acts on Three Health Care Bills Ahead of Deadline

The California Legislature has taken action on several health care-related bills ahead of Friday's legislative deadline, including those that would require multi-lingual prescription drug labels, limit deductibles for family health plans and protect patients from surprise out-of-network bills.

Details of Rx Drug Label Bill

On Thursday, California lawmakers unanimously approved a bill (AB 1073) that would require pharmacists to provide multi-lingual prescription drug labels and instructions when requested by patients, Kaiser Health News/KQED's "State of Health" reports. The bill now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) (Feder Ostrov, "State of Health," Kaiser Health News/KQED, 9/10).

AB 1073, by Assembly member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), would require pharmacists to use a standardized set of directions for prescription labels and make available translations in at least five languages:

  • Chinese;
  • Korean;
  • Russian;
  • Spanish; and
  • Vietnamese.

Alternatively, the bill would authorize pharmacists to provide their own translated directions in place of a standardized set (California Healthline, 5/7).

If Brown signs the measure, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and California would become the second state with such a law ("State of Health," Kaiser Health News/KQED, 9/10).

Details of Deductibles Bill

Also on Thursday, the state Legislature approved a bill (AB 1305) that would limit deductibles for family health plans, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.

Currently, some family plans have separate deductibles for individual family members, and others require individuals to reach a larger family deductible.

Under AB 1305, by Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), all family health plans would be required to include a:

  • Per-individual deductible; and
  • Per-individual out-of-pocket limit.

Gov. Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign or veto the measure (Plevin, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/10).

Details of AB 533

Meanwhile, the state Senate voted 25-10 to approve a bill (AB 533), by Bonta, that aims to protect patients from surprise out-of-network bills when seeking care at an in-network facility, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

According to state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), the doctors would be able to challenge low payments via a dispute resolution process.

State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) opposed the bill, noting that it could reduce patients' access to specialists.

The bill, which was sponsored by Health Access California, now returns to the Assembly for final approval (AP/Sacramento Bee, 9/10).

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