Davis Vetoes Two Bills, Signs Several Others
Citing concerns about the state's "tottering economy," Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday vetoed two bills that would have "made health care more accessible" to low-income residents, the Sacramento Bee reports. The first measure (SB 833), sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), would have streamlined the Medi-Cal eligibility process by applying the same rules to single-parent and two-parent families. Ortiz said the bill would have reduced the state's 6.8 million uninsured population, the Bee reports. The bill's estimated cost was $1 million per year. In his veto message, Davis said that his administration has "worked hard" to increase health coverage, but added that the state's budget shortfall means he cannot "jusitfy additional spending" to increase health coverage. The second vetoed bill (SB 1041), also sponsored by Ortiz, would have provided funding for the Donated Dental Services program, a free dental program for the elderly and people with disabilities run by the Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped and the California Dental Association. That measure would have cost the state $125,000 per year in administrative costs. Davis again cited the state's money problems in his veto message for the bill. The Bee reports that "money is tight" in California, where revenues are $1.1 billion below the amount anticipated for this year. Beth Capell, spokesperson for Health Access, which represents 200 consumer and community groups lobbying for increased health access, said, "We're very discouraged that the budget downturn has caused (the governor) to veto these bills." She added that the economic slowdown will likely increase the number of the uninsured (Bazar, Sacramento Bee, 10/10).
Davis has signed the following health care bills into law:
AB 207: Sponsored by Assembly member Barbara Matthews (D-Tracy), the measure requires health plans that use identification cards for their prescription plans to provide beneficiaries with a card containing the name of the benefit administrator, enrollee ID number, provider assistance telephone number and other information.
SB 16: Sponsored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), the bill revises the discipline reporting system for health care practioners by increasing penalties for failing to report. The measure also establishes a program for detection and intervention of potential physician quality problems and mandates a report on the peer review process to the Legislature by Nov. 1, 2002.
SB 340: Sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), the bill allows pharmacists to alter dosage form -- from pill to liquid, for example -- when the form a doctor prescribes is not suitable for the patient. The bill also allows specified health care clinics to participate in federally funded prescription drug discount programs.
SB 446: Sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), the measure requires individual and group health plans to cover HIV/AIDS vaccines that are approved by the FDA and recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service.
SB 456: Sponsored by Speier, this budget trailer bill establishes a framework to meet federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements.
- SB 1174: Sponsored by Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), the bill allows certified emergency medical technicians and paramedics to perform blood glucose tests without oversight from a physician or lab director (Office of the Governor release, 10/9).