Drug Discount Program Enacted
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Friday signed legislation (AB 2911) by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) that will create a prescription drug discount program, MediaNews/Monterey County Herald reports (Harmon et al., MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 9/30).
The measure will provide average discounts of 40% on brand-name drugs and 60% on generic medications, according to consumer advocates.
Enrollment in the program will be open to uninsured state residents whose annual incomes do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level and people with catastrophic medical costs (Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 9/30). Medicare beneficiaries without drug coverage in the "doughnut hole" of their prescription drug plan also will be eligible for the program (MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 9/30).
The law requires pharmaceutical companies to begin offering the discounts within three years or face restrictions on selling their products to Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Representatives from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America on Friday declined to say whether drug makers would sue to block provisions of the law from taking effect, as people involved in the drafting of the legislation expect (Los Angeles Times, 9/30).
Schwarzenegger on Friday also signed AB 2877 by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale) dealing with prescription drugs (Office of the Governor release , 9/29). The law will establish the California Rx Prescription Drug Web Site Program, under which the Department of Health Services will be charged with developing a Web site to provide links to federal, state and pharmaceutical firms' prescription drug programs. The law also would permit the state to include information about international pharmacies (Bill text, 8/31).
Schwarzenegger signed AB 774, which will restrict some hospital billing practices and limit charges for hospital procedures for uninsured and underinsured patients whose incomes do not exceed 350% of the federal poverty level (MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 9/30).
The governor also signed SB 1661 by Sen. Dave Cox (R-Roseville). Under the law, state regulators can grant extensions of up to two years for hospitals to comply with state seismic safety standards in some cases (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 9/30).
The Medical Board of California will be required to publish on its Web site information about physicians' foreign language skills under a measure (AB 2283) Schwarzenegger signed Friday. The information is intended to help the state assess whether some areas are underserved by physicians with needed foreign language-skills and cultural competencies (MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 9/30).
Schwarzenegger on Saturday signed SB 438 by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), which will allow oral surgeons to perform some plastic surgery procedures. The governor two years ago vetoed a similar measure.
Also on Saturday, the governor vetoed a measure that would have limited the sale of ultrasound machines to people who had received training on how to use them. The measure, AB 2360, was by Assembly member Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 10/1).
The governor on Friday vetoed a bill (SB 1729) by Sen. Nell Soto (D-Ontario) that would have given CalPERS additional authority to invest funds from any government agency in a new fund to help pay for retiree health care costs. Under current law, CalPERS can create such a fund for its member agencies (Sacramento Bee, 9/30).
Schwarzenegger on Friday vetoed AB 1677 by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), which would have permitted not-for-profit groups to distribute condoms to prison inmates (Los Angeles Times, 9/30).
Schwarzenegger on Friday signed SB 1379 to create a statewide program to test volunteers' blood, urine and other bodily fluids for pesticides, mercury, lead, flame retardants and other chemicals. DHS will administer the program, which is believed to be the first such program in the nation (MediaNews/Monterey County Herald, 9/30).
The governor on Friday vetoed AB 1062, by Assembly member Lori Saldana (D-San Diego) (Office of the Governor release , 9/29). The bill would have required participants in biomonitoring programs to be told how specimens will be used and what their rights are regarding access to reports based on their specimens (Bill text, 8/31).