REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Davis Signs Bill Mandating Notification of Denied Services
Gov. Gray Davis (D) yesterday signed legislation that requires health plans to inform their members if any of the hospitals with which they contract deny certain reproductive services, the Los Angeles Times reports. The measure was sponsored by Assembly member Sheila Kuehl (D), and affects health plans, disability insurers and Medi-Cal plans that contract with health care facilities, typically those that are Catholic-owned, that may deny one of a number of reproductive services. Kuehl's measure mandates that health plans warn women if contracting hospitals do not provide abortion, infertility treatments, tubal ligation, or contraception and emergency contraception for rape victims based on religious grounds. A growing number of California hospitals are being purchased by Catholic-owned health care groups, and as of January, about 10% of California hospitals were owned by Catholic Healthcare West, a corporation formed by nine orders of Roman Catholic nuns. Kuehl, whose effort to force hospitals to refer patients to other facilities for services they do not provide died after a strong lobbying effort from CHW, said of the new law, "I think it's an important first step. I'm still very disturbed that a great number of Catholic hospitals in the state deny these services to women." She added, "I will continue to pursue this issue to guarantee that health care providers cannot deny reproductive health services to women while at the same time accessing public money." CHW has received more than $1.6 billion in government bonds and loans (Tamaki, 9/13).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.