October 10th was the last day Governor Newsom had to sign into law or veto bills passed by the Legislature. The Governor signed into law twelve CAFP-supported bills that would increase access to health care services, protect reproductive health care patients and providers, support physician practices and residents, close the existing racial gaps in maternal and infant mortality, and protect patients and providers at vaccination sites.
AB 342 (Gipson) Colorectal cancer: screening and testing
This bill would require health plans to provide coverage without any cost sharing for a colorectal cancer screening test assigned either a grade of A or B by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), including when a colonoscopy is required after a positive result on a test or procedure that is a colorectal cancer screening examination or laboratory test assigned either a grade of A or B by the USPSTF.
AB 457 (Santiago) Protection of Patient Choice in Telehealth Provider Act
This bill requires a health care service plan and a health insurer to comply with specified notice and consent requirements if the plan or insurer offers a service via telehealth to an enrollee or an insured through a third-party corporate telehealth provider, as defined. For an enrollee or insured that receives specialty telehealth services for a mental or behavioral health condition, the bill would require that the enrollee or insured be given the option of continuing to receive that service with the contracting individual health professional, a contracting clinic, or a contracting health facility. The bill would exempt specified health care service plan contracts and Medi-Cal managed care plan contracts from these provisions. The bill would require the State Department of Health Care Services to consider the appropriateness of applying these requirements to the Medi-Cal program, as specified.
AB 615 (Rodriguez) – Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act: procedures relating to employee termination or discipline
This bill would require a higher education employer to provide a procedure for all medical and dental interns and residents, persons in accredited resident physician subspecialty programs, and other postgraduate medical and dental trainees in unaccredited programs to challenge a termination of employment or a disciplinary action, as defined, by the employer, after the employee has exhausted available administrative or academic grievance processes, as provided. The bill would prohibit applying that procedure to a termination of employment or disciplinary action based on certain academic or clinical matters.
AB 1356 (Bauer-Kahan) Reproductive health care services
This bill would prohibit a person, business, or association from knowingly publicly posting, displaying, disclosing, or distributing the personal information, as defined, or image, of a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant, as defined, without that person’s consent and with specified intent. This bill would also make it a crime, within 100 feet of the entrance to or within a reproductive health services facility, to intentionally videotape, film, photograph, or record by electronic means a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant, as defined, with the specific intent to intimidate a person from becoming or remaining a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant. It would also be a crime to intentionally disclose or distribute material obtained in this manner with the specific intent to intimidate a person from becoming or remaining a reproductive health services patient, provider, or assistant. The bill would exempt specified persons, including news reporters, from these provisions, as specified. Further, the bill would require local law enforcement agencies to report, in a manner prescribed by the Attorney General, the number of anti-reproductive-rights crime-related calls for assistance, the total number of arrests for anti-reproductive-rights crimes, and the total number of cases in which the district attorney charged an individual, as specified. Finally, the bill would require the development of an interactive training course on anti-reproductive-rights crimes and, subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act or other statute, update the course every 7 years, or on a more frequent basis as specified. The bill would also require all law enforcement agencies to develop, adopt, and implement written policies and standards for responding to anti-reproductive rights calls by January 1, 2023.
SB 48 (Limon) Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
As originally drafted, this bill would have required all general internists and family physicians to take at least four hours of mandatory continuing medical education (CME) on the special care needs of patients with dementia. CAFP successfully negotiated with the author and sponsors to delete that requirement. The bill was amended to create Medi-Cal payment for an annual “cognitive health assessment,” however providers can only bill for this if they complete a cognitive health assessment training as approved by DHCS and use a validated tool recommended by the department (a similar model to ACEs screening and payment). CAFP successfully garnered amendments that will require DHCS to consult with representatives of primary care physician specialties, including family medicine, prior to approving the cognitive health assessment training and prior to recommending the validated tool, and to require DHCS to select multiple validated tools.
SB 65 (Skinner) Maternal care and services
SB 65, the California Momnibus Act, is designed to improve maternal and infant outcomes – particularly for families of color. The bill will improve research and data collection on racial and socio-economic factors that contribute to higher rates of maternal and infant mortality in communities of color. Specifically, SB 65 codifies and strengthens the work of the Pregnancy-Associated Mortality Review Committee, which will investigate pregnancy-related deaths and make recommendations on best practices to avoid these preventable tragedies; improves data collection in the Fetal and Infant Mortality Review process; creates a fund to support the midwifery workforce, upon appropriation from the Legislature; establishes a stakeholder workgroup to support implementation of the new Medi-Cal doula benefit; and reduces CalWORKs paperwork requirements for pregnant women.
SB 242 (Newman) Health care provider reimbursements
This bill requires health care service plans and insurers to reimburse health care providers for business expenses to prevent the spread of respiratory-transmitted infectious diseases causing public health emergencies.
SB 280 (Limon) Health insurance: large group health insurance
This bill would require large group market products under the regulation of the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to cover medically necessary basic health care services and codify the federal Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on discriminatory large group health insurance benefit designs and marketing practices in the Insurance Code. The basic health care services required in the bill include physician services, hospitalization, outpatient services, diagnostics, and preventive health services. Currently, CDI-regulated large group policies routinely limit or exclude coverage for essential medical care such as women’s reproductive services, obesity care, organ transplants, and life-threatening complications caused by excluded services such as cosmetic surgery.
SB 306 (Pan) Sexually transmitted disease: testing
SB 306 will expand access to STI testing remotely at home and in the community, increase access to STI treatment for patients and their partners, and update state law to boost congenital syphilis screening. SB 306 will expand access to STI testing and treatment by requiring health plans to cover at-home test kits for HIV and STIs; increasing the number of providers that can provide STI testing in the community; supporting the delivery of expedited partner therapy, which allows patients to obtain STI treatment for their partners; and requiring syphilis screening during both the first and third trimester of pregnancy.
SB 428 (Hurtado) Health care coverage: ACEs screenings
This bill would require a health care service plan contract or health insurance policy issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, that provides coverage for pediatric services and preventive care to additionally include coverage for adverse childhood experiences screenings.
SB 510 (Pan) Health care coverage: COVID-19 cost sharing
This bill would require a health care service plan contract or a disability insurance policy that provides coverage for hospital, medical, or surgical benefits, excluding a specialized health care service plan contract or health insurance policy, to cover the costs for COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing and health care services related to the testing for COVID-19, or a future disease when declared a public health emergency by the Governor of the State of California, and would prohibit that contract or policy from imposing cost sharing or prior authorization requirements for that coverage. The bill would also require a contract or policy to cover without cost sharing or prior authorization an item, service, or immunization intended to prevent or mitigate COVID-19, or a future disease when declared a public health emergency by the Governor of the State of California, that is recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as specified. The bill would only extend the prohibition on cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing, or an item, service, or immunization intended to prevent or mitigate COVID-19, with respect to an out-of-network provider for the duration of the federal public health emergency. The bill would also apply these provisions retroactively beginning from the Governor’s declared State of Emergency related to COVID-19 on March 4, 2020.
SB 742 (Pan) Vaccination sites: unlawful activities: obstructing, intimidating, or harassing
This bill would make it unlawful for a person to knowingly approach a person or an occupied vehicle at a vaccination site, as specified, for the purpose of obstructing, injuring, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with, as defined, that person or vehicle occupant. The bill would define “vaccination site” as the physical location where vaccination services are provided, including, but not limited to, a hospital, physician’s office, clinic, or any retail space or pop-up location made available for large-scale vaccination services. The bill would impose a fine not exceeding $1,000, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding 6 months, or by both that fine and imprisonment for a violation.