Flurry of Bills Approved as Session Ends

California’s Legislature last week approved a laundry list of legislation at the end of its session — including a number of health-related laws.

Paid Sick Leave Bill

One bill would ensure three days of paid sick leave a year for Californians — but that measure excluded the roughly 400,000 home health workers in the state. AB 1522 by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) is the second state mandate in the nation to require employers to cover sick leave. Connecticut’s mandate in 2011 was the first.

The bill still needs the governor’s signature, but that looks pretty likely. “The Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said in a written statement right after passage of AB 1522. “This bill guarantees that millions of workers, from Eureka to San Diego, won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

The bill, however, excludes home health care workers in California from sick pay. That last-minute amendment was the price of the bill’s passage, and Gonzalez said she still was happy with the “imperfect” legislation, and that she will introduce another bill next session to include home health workers.

Medi-Cal Grant Funding Bill

The Legislature adopted SB 18 by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which would push the state to accept a $6 million grant from the California Endowment.  The grant, to be used to help with Medi-Cal enrollment renewal efforts, can be matched by federal money to bring the total funding to $12 million.

“Without this legislation, California would be leaving $12 million on the table that could be used to help families navigate the complex and challenging process of renewing their Medi-Cal coverage,” Leno said in a written statement.

“As a state, we have spent the last five years doing all we can to implement the Affordable Care Act and ensure as many Californians as possible are provided access to health care,” said bill co-author Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina).” Turning away $12 million in free money to further those goals makes no sense.”

Dental Care Bill

A bill to establish a state demonstration project called the Virtual Dental Home aims to bring dental care to sites where it is most needed.

AB 1174 by Assembly member Raul Bocanegra (D-Los Angeles) would target dental care in schools, Head Start sites and assisted living centers.

“The program has been proven particularly effective in making sure underserved children get the preventive care they need by bringing the care to them,” said Jenny Kattlove, the director of strategic health initiatives at The Children’s Partnership, in a written statement. “This is critical in California where almost two-thirds of kids in Medi-Cal did not have a dental visit in 2012.”

The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto legislation.

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