Several New Health-Related State Laws Take Effect Jan. 1
A number of health-related laws took effect in the state on Jan. 1, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Brice, AP/Sacramento Bee, 12/29/02). Summaries of some of the laws appear below.
- Abortion rights: The law maintains abortion rights in the state in the event that the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision (Shuck, Stockton Record, 12/31/02). The law mandates that "the state shall not interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose to bear a child or to ... obtain an abortion" but restricts abortion when the fetus can live outside of the womb (SB 1301).
- Emergency contraception: The law requires California hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape survivors. Under the law, health care providers must offer EC to sexually assaulted women and dispense the pills to women who request them. Women who cannot afford the pills will receive them at no cost (AB 1860) (California Healthline, 9/6/02).
- Ephedra: Two laws regulate the sale of the dietary supplement ephedra. The first law bans the sale of ephedra to individuals younger than age 18 and requires ephedra manufacturers to include on the label of their products the federal toll-free number to report health problems associated with the supplement (SB 1884) (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/31/02). The second law requires dietary supplement manufacturers to place warning labels on their products (SB 1948) (California Healthline, 9/30/02).
- Helmet requirement: The law requires that children younger than age 18 wear a helmet when they use inline or roller skates, nonmotorized scooters or skateboards, or when they ride as a passenger on nonmotorized scooters or skateboards (SB 1924) (Luna, Los Angeles Times, 1/2).
- HIV/AIDS: The law extends Medi-Cal coverage to low-income HIV-positive state residents who have not received an AIDS diagnosis (Ingram, Los Angeles Times, 1/1). Under the law, beneficiaries must be HIV positive and enrolled in the state AIDS Drug Assistance Program to qualify for the expanded Medi-Cal coverage; Medi-Cal will not cover prescription drug costs (AB 2197) (California Healthline, 9/19/02).
- Human cloning: The law makes permanent the state's five-year moratorium on human reproductive cloning, which would have expired yesterday (SB 1230) (California Healthline, 9/23/02).
- Mental health: The law allows relatives and friends of residents with mental illness to petition courts to order them into outpatient treatment (AB 1421) (California Healthline, 9/30/02).
- Smoking ban: The law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of sandboxes or playground areas (AB 1867) (Hill, Sacramento Bee, 12/31/02).
- Stem cell research: The law provides legal protection for embryonic stem cell research, which includes research on stem cells taken from cloned embryos, and establishes a broad regulatory framework for the research. The law states that an approved industry review board must review stem cell research. In addition, the law requires fertility clinics to inform patients that they may donate their unused embryos for medical research and to obtain written consent for embryo donations. The law also prohibits the sale of embryos (SB 253) (California Healthline, 9/23/02).
- Tobacco sales: The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products through the mail or postal or package services to children younger than age 18. In addition, the law requires individuals who sell tobacco products to verify the age of purchasers and to deliver tobacco products only to verified billing addresses (AB 1830) (California Healthline, 9/20/02).
- Veterans health: Two laws authorize the construction of five new veterans homes in California that will add 1,200 new beds for the state's three million veterans. The first law authorizes the sale of $62 million in lease revenue bonds to build veterans homes in Fresno and Redding (SB 1234). The second law authorizes the construction of veterans homes in West Los Angeles and Lancaster in Los Angeles County and Saticoy in Ventura County (AB 2559) (California Healthline, 8/15/02).
The San Jose Mercury News last week published an article that reviewed the state of health care in California in 2002 (San Jose Mercury News, 12/24/02). The complete article is available online.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.