LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Davis Approves, Vetoes Health Bills
Continuing to sift through the hundreds of bills the Legislature passed last month, Gov. Gray Davis (D) has recently signed additional health-related legislation. Some of the bills receiving his signature include:
- AB 400: Sponsored by Assembly member Ted Lempert (D-San Carlos), this bill requires applicants for a state psychology license to have attended an accredited school. California is currently the only state that allows graduates of non-approved doctoral programs to become psychologists (Office of the Governor release, 9/27);
- AB 1599: Sponsored by Assembly member Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch), this bill allows the Department of Industrial Relations to create a statewide young worker health and safety resource network;
- AB 1748: Sponsored by Assembly member Charlene Zettle (R-Poway), this bill closes the "gap" in current law that prevents counties from receiving immunization histories from schools, child care programs, WIC programs and CalWORKs programs. The bill would make county registries more complete and help further the goal of maximizing children's immunizations (Office of the Governor release, 9/26);
- SB 193: Sponsored by Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), this bill requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish a new license plate to help fund breast cancer treatment for low-income individuals (Office of the Governor release, 9/27);
- SB 929: Sponsored by Polanco, this bill grants California-licensed optometrists limited authority to prescribe antibiotics for eye infections and treat specified cases of glaucoma. The legislation also reclassifies technicians who fit prescription lenses as assistants who can perform additional duties under the direct supervision and responsibility of an opthamologist or optometrist;
- SB 1339: Sponsored by Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), this bill requires pharmacies to establish a quality assurance program which, at a minimum, records medication errors attributable to the pharmacy or its staff. In his signing message, Davis stated that although the bill "will place an additional burden on pharmacies, [it will] provide a greater amount of assurance to the public that their medication is being dispensed accurately;"
- SB 1828: Sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), this bill establishes a fine or civil penalty for any person that prescribes or dispenses dangerous drugs or devices over the Internet to any person in the state (Office of the Governor release, 9/26);
- SB 2098: Sponsored by Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles), this bill requires that psychologists employed by or contracted with the Department of the Youth Authority be licensed to practice in California. The bill also requires DYA and the Department of Mental Health to establish regulations for administering psychotropic medications to any person under their jurisdiction (Office of the Governor release, 9/27);
- SB 2100: Sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), this bill requires the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California to establish disciplinary policies for licensees related to the alternative medicine. The bill also asks the University of California to review research regarding alternative treatments (Office of the Governor release, 9/27).
Not Passing Muster
Davis this week also vetoed a slew of bills, including:
- AB 1725: Sponsored by Assembly member Sarah Reyes (D-Fresno), this bill would require the Child Health and Disability Prevention program to refer all children eligible for the California Children's Services program for diagnosis and treatment when needed. The bill would also require the DHS to establish screening for acanthosis nigricans and authorize the fasting blood glucose test when required. In his veto message, Davis said the bill was "not necessary" because the CHDP program already screens for Type 2 diabetes and makes referrals for children to receive a fasting blood glucose test;
- AB 2068: Sponsored by Assembly member Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), this bill would allow the Regents of the University of California to convene a panel of experts to develop guidelines and recommendations for the identification and treatment of childhood mental disorders and related issues. In his veto message, Davis said the study conducted "would imply a future commitment for funding" and that the fund source "should be identified in the bill" (Office of the Governor release, 9/22);
- AB 2670: Sponsored by Assembly member Audie Bock (I-Piedmont), this bill would appoint a committee to conduct a three-year study on nurse availability and student health related issues. Davis said that the estimated $500,000 cost of the study is not funded in the Budget Act, and that the current budget provides school districts with nearly $2 billion that could be used to support pupil health services, including a study on school nurses (Office of the Governor release, 9/25);
- AB 2809: Sponsored by Assembly member Robert Pacheco (R-Walnut), this bill would require prenatal health care providers to offer testing and counseling for perinatally transmitted communicable diseases, such as HIV. In his veto message, Davis said, "The requirements of this bill exceed current CDC recommendations for communicable disease screening and g[o] beyond professional medical guidelines for care, which recommend screening all patients for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B and testing only for patients at risk for other diseases" (Office of the Governor release, 9/24);
- AB 2834: Sponsored by Assembly member Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), this bill would establish two new programs designed to increase the number of physicians specializing in geriatric medicine. In his veto message, Davis said, "The 2000-01 budget ... did not include funds for this purpose and it is not clear that the proposal will improve upon other effective programs like the Song-Brown Family Physician Training Program" (Office of the Governor Release, 9/22);
- SB 1514: Sponsored by Hayden, the bill would establish an advisory committee to determine how to inform parents of the nutritional value of food served, including genetically engineered food, in public schools. In his veto message, Davis said, "The Healthy School Environmental Policy Action Summit will soon begin examining the nutritional value of food in schools," making an additional study "premature and unnecessary" (Office of the Governor release, 9/25);
- SB 1755: Sponsored by Sen. David Kelley (R-Idyllwild), this bill would require the DHS to take certain actions pertaining to a therapeutic review of medications for mental health that are on the Medi-Cal list of contract drugs. In his veto message, Davis said, "Existing law authorizing therapeutic category reviews of medication already provides for expert input and advice to be considered by DHS, and there is no basis to ... require a different process or set of restrictions for mental health medications only." Davis added that the bill would "unduly restrict the DHS's ability to make those changes, but only with respect to drugs for the treatment of mental illness" (Office of the Governor release, 9/22);
- SB 1849: Sponsored by Sen. Ross Johnson (R-Irvine), this bill would exempt certain accredited laboratories that perform blood alcohol tests on blood, urine or tissue samples from specified DHS regulations and would require DHS to establish a review committee to revise regulations regarding testing of such samples. In his veto message, Davis said, "[T]his bill goes beyond the recommendations of the Bureau of State Audits." Davis noted that if DHS does not make "sufficient progress" on the issue by next year, he will "consider signing a modified version of this bill" (Office of the Governor release, 9/25);
- SB 2103: Sponsored by Sen. Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), the bill would require DHS to convene a workgroup to review specified Medi-Cal cost reporting and auditing provisions related to long term care, as well as the qualifications and training requirements for cost report preparers and auditors. In his veto message, Davis said, "The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development already monitors the long term care reporting process through their California Health Policy and Data Advisory Commission." Davis added that DHS also already has "extensive educational requirements" for auditors performing long term care audits (Office of the Governor release, 9/22).