Lawmakers Shooting for 100 Bills a Day

The Senate last week passed a bill to require coverage of fertility therapy for younger cancer patients, one of several health-related bills sent to the governor.

Friday’s floor votes were just a preamble to the work in the Legislature coming up this week, according to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). The Senate President pro Tem said lawmakers will have about 500 bills to pass before the current session ends Friday.

“That means we have to go through about 100 bills a day, on average,” Steinberg said. “We’ve done that and more in a day.”

That includes a few issues that could take time to discuss, he said, so lawmakers likely will be facing some late nights at the Capitol this week.

“There are a few hot buttons and controversial things that will be coming our way. So you should not plan evening activities [this] week,” Steinberg said Friday.

The Senate Friday passed AB 912 by Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), a bill that requires health insurers to cover a certain type of fertility service.

“This bill will ensure that patients with severe diseases don’t need to make the gut-wrenching decision between receiving life-saving medical help and starting a family,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who presented the bill on the Senate floor.

When people under age 45 are diagnosed with cancer and need to undergo chemotherapy, Jackson said, those young people may face another consequence — the potential loss of their fertility.

“The cost to cover fertility services for cancer patients is not [always] covered,” Jackson said, “even though fertility loss is a direct result of their treatment. This measure will provide sperm, embryo and egg preservation be included in insurance coverage.”

Sen. Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) said he’d be all for the legislation — later.

“While this is important and I want to do it, I can’t do it,” Anderson said. “This bill gets too far ahead.” The Legislature should wait for implementation of the Affordable Care Act before mandating this treatment, he said. “A few years from now,” Anderson said, “we could do this with our eyes open.”

“This is a sensible, humane and I would venture to say compassionate as well as a cost-effective solution to foreseeable harm from a medically necessary treatment,” Jackson said.

The bill passed on a 23-12 floor vote, and now heads to the governor.

Also passed on Friday:

• SB 239 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) would increase the amount of funding in the hospital quality assurance fee from a cap of $2 million to a cap of $3 million. Amendments to the bill were approved and the Assembly voted to re-refer it to the Assembly Committee on Health.

• AB 297 by Assembly member Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) would allow primary care clinics to verify certification by any accrediting organization recognized by the Department of Public Health.

• SB 28 by Hernandez and Steinberg requires Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) to provide information to the Covered California health insurance exchange about the subscribers in the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program, which is overseen by MRMIB.

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