HMO REFORM: Wilson Signs Reconstructive Surgery, ‘Drive-Through’ Mastectomy Bills
Gov. Pete Wilson yesterday signed two of the many HMO reform measures that landed on his desk at the end of the 1998 legislative session. AP/Capitol Alert reports that the governor approved a "drive-through mastectomy" law and a reconstructive surgery measure. The mastectomy bill, AB 7, sponsored by Assemblywomen Valerie Brown (D-Santa Rosa), will "require a doctor and patient" -- not the health plan -- "to determine how long a woman should stay in the hospital after a mastectomy." Assemblywoman Liz Figueroa's (D-Fremont) AB 1621 will require HMOs and other health plans "to cover reconstructive surgery to fix birth defects." The bill was introduced in response to the fact that many HMOs only cover reconstructive surgery "that is medically necessary to restore a body function." Brown's measure will take effect July 1 and Figueroa's will become active Jan. 1.
Other Health Legislation
Wilson also signed AB 2305, a measure that will "[r]emove some of the paperwork to get pain-killing narcotics for terminally ill patients." And the governor gave his approval to AB 745, which will mandate coverage of "general anesthesia for dental work for patients under 7 years old, those who are developmentally disabled and those for whom anesthesia is medically necessary."
AP/Capitol Alert reports that the two bills signed yesterday "are among the few survivors of a two-year political battle between the Legislature" and the governor over managed care reform. While Wilson earlier this month vetoed "a half dozen" HMO reform bills, he still has two significant ones sitting on his desk -- a mental health parity measure (AB 1100) and the bill that would create a new state agency to regulate HMOs (SB 406) (9/25). Click here to read recent California Healthline coverage of HMO reform legislation.