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Health Reform, LGBT, Telehealth Bills Signed

More than two dozen bills directly related to health care were signed into law over the weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

Despite some initial opposition from the Health Benefit Exchange board, the governor signed AB 1296 by Susan Bonilla (D-Martinez), a measure that creates the Health Care Reform Eligibility, Enrollment and Retention Planning Act. It requires state Health and Human Services officials to set up standardized forms and procedures to apply for or renew eligibility and enrollment in state subsidy programs.

It’s part of the no-wrong-door approach to streamline enrollment in Medi-Cal, the Health Benefit Exchange and other state assistance programs.  

The Exchange board worried that some of the direction in AB 1296 might be duplicative or even contradictory to the work of the Exchange itself, and in July directed its staff to get involved in the legislation, and possibly to delay it. At its most recent meeting two weeks ago, the Exchange board decided to suspend further action on the bill.

Also approved by Gov. Brown in recent days:

  • SB 51, by Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), will implement medical-loss ratio compliance within the state, as laid out in the federal Affordable Care Act.
  • AB 922, by Bill Monning (D-Carmel), expands the authority and scope of the Office of the Patient Advocate, making it a central location to field questions about health care reform issues. It also moves the Department of Managed Health Care under the umbrella of the Health and Human Services agency.
  • AB 581, by John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), creates the California Healthy Food Financing Initiative, to provide lower-income Californians better access to healthful foods.
  • AB 415, by Dan Logue (R-Chico), streamlines the ability to use telehealth services, in part by requiring verbal consent for services, rather than written patient consent.
  • SB 866, by Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), aims to streamline and standardize health insurance forms for preauthorization of medications.
  • AB 673, by John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), requires the state’s Office of Multicultural Health to include LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues in its health-enhancement efforts.
  • AB 395, by Richard Pan (D-Natomas), expands the existing newborn screening program to include severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID.
  • AB 1319, by Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey), limits the use of bisphenol-A in baby bottles and cups, infant formula and baby food.
  • SB 850, by Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), requires that certain notations and alterations to a patient’s electronic health record remain on that EHR.
  • AB 301, by Richard Pan (D-Natomas) extends the sunset date by four years of the California Children’s Services program, to the start of 2016.

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