LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP I: Davis Signs Final Bills, Including Healthy Families Expansion
Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Sept. 30 signed legislation that would allow Healthy Families to cover low-income parents, the Los Angeles Times reports. California is one of 40 states slated to return unspent federal CHIP funds because it failed to use the full allotment Congress allocated in 1997. California, "the worst performer" out of those 40 states, is expected to return $590 million to the federal government (Bustillo/Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 10/1). Grantland Johnson, secretary of Health and Social Services, said, "The federal law gave us a three-year window, but it didn't take into account how difficult and burdensome it is for states to bring these programs on line. We are at a point where we are rapidly enrolling children, and we need access to that money, both to enroll and give courage to those children" (Coleman, AP/Orange County Register, 9/30). In signing the bill, AB 1015, Davis has joined a "last-minute" effort to obtain a federal waiver that would allow California to use the unspent CHIP funds to enroll parents. Lawmakers maintain that by extending CHIP eligibility to low-income parents, the program will enroll more children. Davis also signed AB 2900, which "makes technical changes" to Medi-Cal to allow parents to enroll (Los Angeles Times, 10/1). Jim Keddy of the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations, a coalition of local organizations that support the measures, said that the bills "will bring affordable insurance to at least 600,000 working parents. It will increase the enrollment in Healthy Families, and it creates the policy framework that we need to bring more parents into this program." But Keddy added that Davis and the Legislature must now approve the $128 million necessary to finance the expansion before it can take effect. If financing is approved, the program would take effect July 1, 2001 (Howard, AP/San Diego Union Tribune, 10/1). Davis also signed AB 2415, sponsored by Assemblywoman Carole Midgen (D), which would allow children of legal immigrants to continue using Medi-Cal. Previous legislation required that those benefits end this year (Los Angeles Times, 10/1).
Other Approved Legislation
Faced with a Sept. 30 deadline to sign or veto hundreds of bills that the California Legislature passed last month, Gov. Gray Davis (D) approved numerous health-related measures. Some of the approved legislation includes the following:
- SB 168: By Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough), this bill prohibits health care service plans (HCSPs) from requiring physicians or physician groups to assume the financial risk for the acquisition costs of required childhood immunizations that are not part of their current risk-based contract with the HCSP. As of January 1, 2001, HCSPs will be required to reimburse physicians for these costs at the lowest of the following: the actual acquisition cost, the average wholesale price, or lowest cost made available to the physician by the HCSP (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 265: By Speier, this bill enacts into law those requirements of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that entitle eligible individuals to purchase coverage on a guaranteed issue basis. The bill also reduces the length of time in the individual market that a health plan can exclude a pre-existing condition to 6 months from 12 months (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 269: By Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), this bill would have appropriated $4.9 million from the State General Fund to the Department of Health Services to allocate to local health departments for communicable disease control and public health surveillance activities (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 648: By Ortiz, this bill includes chlamydia within the definition of venereal diseases. It also allows physicians, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants, who diagnose a sexually transmitted Chlamydia infection in an individual patient, to prescribe, dispense, furnish, or otherwise provide prescription antibiotic drugs to that patient's sexual partner(s) without examination of that patient's partner(s) (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 745: By Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello), this new law enables the Department of Mental Health to require mental health plans to enter into a memorandum of understanding containing specified requirements with Medi-Cal managed care plans. The bill also requires the establishment of a procedure to ensure access to outpatient mental health services for foster children. In addition, it requires the Department of Health Services to ensure that coverage is provided to Medi-Cal beneficiaries for necessary prescription medications and related necessary medical services (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 898: By Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana), this bill requires premium rate schedules to be submitted and approved by the Insurance Commissioner before an individual or group long-term care insurance policy can be marketed in California (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 1435: By Sen. Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton), this bill pays for Medicare benefits for retired teachers 65 or older (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1471: By Sen. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), this bill prohibits health care service plans, medical groups, or independent practice associations from issuing a lien against enrollees to recover more than specified amounts (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1554: By the Senate Committee on Business and Professions, this bill makes numerous technical changes to regulations for various health- related boards and professions within the Department of Consumer Affairs. Included are pharmacists, podiatrists, psychologists and others (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1732: By Senate President pro Tempore John Burton (D-San Francisco), this bill modifies a disclosure requirement whereby workers' compensation insurers identify healthcare networks that have signed agreements with health care providers entitling the insurers to pay a discounted rate (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1746: By Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), this bill requires health care service plans to notify enrollees of the plan's termination of a contract with a primary care provider and specifies methods for delivering the notice. It also requires plans to instruct enrollees on how to select a new primary care provider. In addition, it specifies exceptions for primary care provider approvals related to situations where a provider has been terminated from a plan's contract (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1748: By Sen. Don Perata (D-Alameda), this bill implements the task force funded by the 2000 Budget Act to identify options for meeting the mental health staffing needs of state and county health, human services, and criminal justice agencies. It requires the task force to study the shortage of mental health workers in publicly- funded mental health services, develop recommendations, issue a progress report to the Legislature on its findings on or before May 1, 2001 (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 1801: By Speier, this bill authorizes the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to extend the January 1, 2008, deadline for compliance with the Hospital Seismic Safety Act, to January 1, 2013 (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1820: By Burton, this bill extends the cancer presumption for workers' compensation claims to specified peace officers (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 1896: By Ortiz, this bill resolves a conflict between fire safety requirements by the California Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) over bedridden clients in community care facilities serving six or fewer persons. The DSS and OSFM, in addition, will be required to promulgate regulations that address bedridden clients in a residential care facility (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 1932: By Sen. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte), this bill establishes the California Lung Disease and Asthma Research Fund. Taxpayers will be able to contribute to the Fund on their income tax returns (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 1992: By Sen. Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), this bill strengthens the laws relating to the criminal clearance process for persons seeking access to community care, residential care and child day care facilities licensed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 2006: By Sen. Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City), this bill authorizes any general acute care hospital building located in Seismic Zone three to request an exemption from the January 1, 2008 deadline for nonstructural retrofitting, if the building complies with the year 2002 nonstructural requirements. This bill requires the hospital to submit a site-specific analysis to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which must be reviewed by the Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology, before the exemption is approved (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 2046: By Speier, this bill prohibits health care service contracts and disability insurance contracts from excluding coverage for an off-label use of a drug prescribed for a chronic and seriously debilitating condition (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- SB 2077: By Ortiz, this bill revises existing language and expands the Department of Social Services' (DSS) oversight of continuing care providers related to protecting resident rights, operations, and reporting (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- SB 2136 by Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana), this bill requires the Department of Managed Health Care's Advisory Committee on Managed Care to recommend standards to reduce the number of regulatory compliance audits performed at individual and group provider sites (Office of the Governor release, 9/30).
- SB 2180: By Senate Health and Human Services Committee, this bill revises the State Department of Aging's role for issuing provisional and regular licenses to Adult Day Health Care centers and enhances the State Department of Aging's authority to ensure that basic requirements for licensure and certification are met (Office of the Governor release, 9/30).
Davis Signs Assembly BillsDavis also signed the following health-related Assembly bills:
- AB 556: By Assembly member Susan Davis (D-San Diego), this bill conforms provisions for certain California drug and medical devices with those in the federal Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 750: By Assembly member John Dutra (D-Fremont), this bill enacts the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act and establishes the Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund for the award of grants to conduct spinal cord injury research (Office of the Governor Release, 9/27).
- AB 1496: By Assembly member Keith Olberg (R-Victorville), this bill expands existing medical device retailer license requirements to include all persons that sell or dispense medical devices. The bill also transfer responsibility for the licensure and regulation of home medical device retail facilities from the Board of Pharmacy to the Department of Health Services (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 1941: By Assembly member Virginia Strom-Martin (D-Duncans Mills), this bill allows the Palm Drive Health Care District to issue revenue bonds until Jan. 1, 2004 (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2037: By Assembly member Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), this bill extends eligibility for specialized services to foster children who are drug or alcohol exposed, or HIV positive, from ages three to age five (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2080: By Assembly member Brett Granlund (R-Yucaipa), this bill requires a resident or an agent who manages the resident's assets to pay a facility the share of cost for which the resident is responsible under the Medi-Cal program (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2130: By Assembly member Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), this new law requires insurance companies to provide specific information for children receiving court-ordered medical support to parents who initiated coverage, parents or custodial parties who did not initiate coverage, and the local child support agency that handles the case. The bill also requires the health insurer to notify both parents when coverage for the child is terminated (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2167: By Assembly member Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park), this bill grants the oversight and regulation of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) to the State Department of Health Services (DHS). The bill also requires the department to report on a variety of issues related to organ and tissue recovery and make recommendations to the Legislature on how to improve the system so that all Californians will be encouraged to donate with confidence (Office of the Governor release, 9/28).
- AB 2194: By Gallegos, this bill requires the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to grant program flexibility to any general acute care hospital seeking to relocate services on an interim basis to achieve building standards for interim sites. This bill also requires the Department of Health Services to establish the Alfred E. Alquist Hospital Facilities Seismic Safety Act Unit. The bill appropriates $145,000 from the General Fund to establish the new unit (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2276: By Assembly member Gill Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), this bill requires the Office of the Attorney General to prepare a plan to evaluate current charitable care and community benefit standards for not- for-profit hospitals, and submit the plan to the Legislature by March 1, 2001;
- AB 2383: By Assembly member Fred Keeley (D-Boulder Creek), this bill permits local agencies and school employers that contract with the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) for health benefits to establish coverage for their less-than-half- time employees (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2394: By Assembly member Marco Firebaugh (D-Los Angeles), this bill establishes a task force to develop recommendations for a continuing education program for physicians and dentists. The Task Force on Culturally and Linguistically Competent Physicians and Dentists will be chaired by the Directors of the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Health Services (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2397: By Assembly member Ken Maddox (D-Garden Grove), amends the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act to require a coroner to release body parts only after a reasonable effort has been made to find the next of kin or a representative to obtain permission. The bill defines the conditions that constitute a reasonable effort and specifies the types of entities that may receive anatomical gifts. In addition, the bill requires that cremated remains be returned free of charge to the donor's attorney or family (Office of the Governor release, 9/28);
- AB 2414: By Firebaugh, this bill permits disclosure of medical information to disease management companies and specifies permitted services, necessary authorizations, restrictions, and regulations of disease management companies (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2427: By Assembly member Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), this bill appropriates $3.9 million from the Genetic Disease Testing Fund for the Department of Health Services to conduct an evaluation of newborn genetic screening utilizing tandem mass spectrometry. It also requires DHS to report findings and recommendations to the Legislature by January 1, 2002 (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2594: By Assembly member Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks), this bill increases the potential fines for the related criminal offenses of insurance fraud and illegal referral fee payments to obtain the referral of patients (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2616: By Assembly member Bob Margett (R-Arcadia), this bill prohibits disability insurers from requesting information that is not reasonably necessary to determine liability for payment of a claim and requires them to pay providers the cost for duplicating all information they request in connection with a contested claim. This bill also extends by one year the sunset for the exemption from the requirements of the Senior Insurance Law for direct response disability insurance (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2668: By Assembly member Jim Battin (R-La Quinta), this bill provides for coverage of services for individuals with developmental disabilities residing in intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled on or after July 1, 2000 (Office of the Governor release, 9/29);
- AB 2899: By the Assembly Committee on Health, this bill authorizes the attending physician to authenticate the verbal orders for drugs for a patient of another physician. It also makes technical, non- substantive changes to existing law related to Medi-Cal (Office of the Governor release, 9/30);
- AB 2903: By the Assembly Committee on Health, this bill makes a variety of technical amendments to clean up last year's health care reform legislation. It changes the name of the Department of Managed Care to the Department of Managed Health Care. In addition it allows the Department of Insurance to contract with the Department of Managed Care for administration of an independent medical review process. It also modifies requirements for registering certain telephone medical advice services (Office of the Governor release, 9/30).