State Senate Passes Three Bills to Expand Medi-Cal, Healthy Families
The state Senate this week passed a package of bills that would expand access to public health care programs to an estimated two million state residents lacking health care coverage, the Sacramento Bee reports. Sponsored by state Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), the bills aim to expand Medi-Cal and Healthy Families to working Californians who do not receive "sufficient" employer-sponsored health coverage. The measures passed by the Senate include:
SB 402: The bill would expand Healthy Families, at a cost of $9 million annually, to 19- and 20-year-olds whose families qualify.
SB 785: The bill would expand Healthy Families coverage to parents in families with annual incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level, or $36,575 for a family of three. The measure would cost an estimated $20.9 million annually. Gov. Gray Davis (D) has proposed expanding Healthy Families coverage to parents whose families earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level. Expansion to parents will require a federal waiver.
- SB 833: The bill would eliminate the Medi-Cal assets test, which includes stock and home ownership when considering resident eligibility for the program.
The Senate this week approved additional health-related bills, including:
- School Food: Sponsored by Sen. Marta Escutia (D-Commerce), the bill (SB 19) would limit the fat and sugar content in food served in schools (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/7). Approved 22-15, the bill would also restrict the sales of sweetened drinks in schools. The measure aims to stem "'an epidemic' of sedentary, obese and unhealthy students" (Lawrence, AP/Contra Costa Times, 6/6).
- Medical Marijuana: Sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), the bill (SB 187) would establish a statewide registry of medical marijuana users. Approved 23-8, the measure would shield registered patients using medical marijuana from arrest. In addition, the bill bars state prosecution of doctors who "recommend" marijuana to their patients and allows caregivers to grow marijuana "cooperatively for medical purposes under the auspices of the state Department of Health."
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