Assembly, Senate Pass Several Health Care-Related Measures
This week, California legislators in the Assembly and Senate passed several health-related bills.
Assembly Approves BillÂ To PreventÂ 10% Medi-Cal Cut
On Wednesday, the state Assembly voted 75-0 to pass a bill (AB 900) -- by Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) -- that would prevent the state from reducing Medi-Cal reimbursements by 10% for skilled nursing facilities (AP/U-T San Diego, 5/29).
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In October 2011, CMS approved the state's plan to reduce certain Medi-Cal payments by 10%. The state Department of Health Care Services has estimated that the cut -- which would be retroactive to June 1, 2011 -- will save the state $431 million.
Last week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 10% cut.
Because of the ruling, the cut now must be implemented unless plaintiffs appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the high court blocks the cut while the case is heard and decided.
State lawmakers also could block the cut by approving legislation that draws enough support to sustain a possible veto by Brown (California Healthline, 5/28).
The bill nowÂ goes to the Senate (AP/U-T San Diego, 5/29).
Assembly Passes Medical Interpreter Bill
Also on Wednesday, the Assembly voted 52-21 to pass a bill (AB 1263) that aims to improve access to Medi-Cal beneficiaries' access to interpreters and allowÂ such workersÂ to join a union (Olson, AP/U-T San Diego, 5/29).
The bill -- by Assembly Speaker JohnÂ PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles)Â -- would create a system, called CommuniCal, to improve access to interpreters at physician offices and hospitals. The legislation also would:
- Require the State Personnel Board to determine appropriate testing, training and certification of new Medi-Cal interpreters;
- Give such interpreters the right to join a public workers union and collectively bargain with the state; and
- Guarantee the interpreters payment of at least $60 per hour (California Healthline, 3/29).
The bill now moves to the Senate (Olson, AP/U-T San Diego, 5/29).
Senate Passes Mental Health Measure
On Tuesday, the Senate voted 39-0 to advance a bill (SB 364) that would give counties more options for where individuals can seek care when required to undergo involuntary treatment for a severe mental illness.
The bill -- by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) -- also would:
- Allow patients to be treated without being detained;
- Allow patients to receive treatment in less restrictive settings; and
- Encourage counties to develop training programs for mental health workers (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 5/30).
Legislators Advance Gun-Related Measures
The Assembly and Senate also passed several bills as part of a package of gun control proposals introduced after a shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December 2012.
The package of bills includes:
- SB 755 -- by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) -- which was passed by the Senate and would expand the list of individuals prohibited from owning guns to include those convicted of drug- or alcohol-related offenses; and
- AB 500 -- by Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) -- which was passed by the Assembly and would require gun owners to store firearms safely when someone who lives in the home is prohibited from owning a weapon because of a mental illness or a criminal record ("KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 5/29).