CONTRACEPTIVE COVERAGE: Measure Passes Assembly
The state Assembly yesterday approved 52-26 a measure that would require health insurers to pay for birth control pills and other prescription contraceptives, the Sacramento Bee reports. "They aren't luxuries. These drugs are essential to protecting the health of women," said Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg (D-Sherman), sponsor of AB 39. A similar measure, state Sen. Jackie Speier's (D-San Mateo) SB 41, was approved by the Senate last week (4/20). Hertzberg said he would be working with religious groups to include a conscience clause in the bill exempting organizations opposed for religious reasons from paying for contraceptives. The assemblyman also said he would work with Speier to develop a single bill (Kerr, AP/Capitol Alert, 4/20). The California Association of Catholic Hospitals and the California Catholic Conference are supporting such a clause (Catholics for a Free Choice release, 4/14). Hertzberg's measure now goes to the state Senate, where it will likely be assigned to the Insurance Committee. Speier's bill will likely be scheduled for a vote by the Assembly Health Committee in mid-May (Planned Parenthood release, 4/19).
In other legislative news, the state Senate Business and Professions Committee advanced five measures that would place stricter standards on cosmetic surgery. State Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont)'s three bills and Speier's two bills "would increase training disclosure requirements for physicians who perform cosmetic surgery," regulate their advertising and "limit the types of procedures that could be performed in outpatient facilities," the Los Angeles Times reports (4/20).