Lawmakers Vote To Pass Health-Related Legislation
Lawmakers on Monday approved two health-related measures, the Los Angeles Times reports. Summaries of the bills are provided below.
- The Senate approved a bill (SB 1144) that would allow the state to reimport lower-cost, U.S.-made prescription drugs from Canada for Medi-Cal and other state health programs (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 5/25). The measure, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco), would allow the Department of General Services -- which purchases medications for state prisons, hospitals and agencies -- to reimport prescription drugs from Canada (California Healthline, 3/11). However, the legislation requires the state to seek approval from the federal government because reimporting prescription drugs is currently illegal, the Times reports. Lawmakers say that the measure could save the state more than $30 million per year.
- The Assembly approved a bill (AB 1946) that would require "more aggressive notification" of prisoners about a program that allows the state to release terminally ill prisoners who have six months or less to live, the Times reports. The number of prisoners released each year to die at home under the program has decreased from 31 in 1996 to 10 in 2003. Once released, prisoners would qualify for Medi-Cal coverage. The bill could save the state an estimated $750,000 per year in prison costs, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 5/25).
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Assembly is expected to vote on four prescription drug-related bills this week, including SB 1144. Other measures expected to reach the Assembly floor would allow small business owners and uninsured patients to join bulk prescription drug purchasing pools and require the state auditor to review practices of any state agency that buys drugs to ensure that the rebates offered by pharmaceutical companies are collected. Several of the bills "are bitterly opposed" by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies because they could reduce profits that the companies say fund research and development efforts, the Union-Tribune reports. However, consumer advocates say that the industry is "interested only in protecting its financial bottom line at the expense" of state residents, according to the Union-Tribune. Each bill needs 41 votes to pass in the Assembly (Crabtree, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.