Legislature Meets House of Origin Deadline, Committees to Resume Next Week
Today marks the deadline for the California Legislature to pass bills introduced in their house of origin. The State Senate and Assembly both conducted lengthy floor sessions only this week as they worked to advance hundreds of measures from their house of origin to the next house.
Beginning next week, the Senate and Assembly will resume policy committee hearings, reviewing measures from the opposite house. Policy committees will have just over one month to make their way through measures, next facing a deadline of July 14 for policy committees to hear and report bills. Looking ahead, the Legislature will begin its summer recess on July 16.
Most of the Legislature’s focus, however, will remain on the state budget as lawmakers face a June 15 deadline to pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22. Below, we highlight several bills of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, the latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.
Access to Health Services
AB 32 (Aguiar-Curry) as amended May 24, 2021 – SUPPORT
AB 32 by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry would require the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to indefinitely continue telehealth flexibilities established during the COVID-19 pandemic. AB 32 was advanced by the Assembly to the Senate on Tuesday on a 78-0 vote with one member not voting.
Recall, the Governor’s May Revise proposes to establish rates for audio-only telehealth services that are 65 percent of the Medi-Cal rate for the service rendered in the fee-for-service delivery system and comparable to the prospective payment system (PPS) rates for clinics. Both the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees rejected the Newsom Administration’s proposal and instead opted to align with telehealth flexibilities detailed in AB 32.
SB 316 (Eggman) as introduced February 4, 2021 – SUPPORT
Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman’s SB 316 was advanced from the Senate to the Assembly on Tuesday on a 39-0 vote with one member not voting. SB 316 would authorize Medi-Cal reimbursement for a maximum of two visits on the same day at a single FQHC or RHC location if: 1) after the first visit, the patient suffers an illness or injury requiring additional diagnosis and/or treatment; or 2) the patient has a medical visit and a mental health visit or dental visit.
Communicable Disease Control
SB 306 (Pan) as amended May 25, 2021 – SUPPORT
Senator Richard Pan’s SB 306 would expand access to a variety of services that address sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including provisions allowing pharmacists to provide expedited partner treatment (EPT) for STDs, requiring private and public health insurance coverage to cover home STD kits, adding EPT treatment and liability protections for health care providers when diagnosing and treating STDs, requiring specified health care professionals to provide syphilis screening and testing, allowing HIV counselors to perform rapid STD tests, and allowing Family PACT program reimbursements for STD-related services to uninsured individuals, income-eligible patients, or insured patients with confidentiality concerns. SB 306 was passed by the Senate to the Assembly on Wednesday on a 31-7 vote with two members not voting.
Health Coverage/Health Care Reform
AB 4 (Arambula) as introduced December 7, 2020 – SUPPORT
Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula’s AB 4 would expand Medi-Cal coverage to all undocumented adults with income at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), contingent upon appropriation by the Legislature. AB 4 was advanced by the Assembly to the Senate on Tuesday on a 58-18 vote with three members not voting.
SB 56 (Durazo) as amended May 25, 2021 – SUPPORT
Senator Maria Elena Durazo’s SB 56 would expand, effective July 2022, Medi-Cal coverage to all undocumented adults 60 years of age and older with incomes at or below 138 percent FPL, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature. SB 56 was advanced by the Senate to the Assembly on Wednesday on a 29-7 vote with four members not voting.
Of note, SB 56 aligns with the Governor’s May Revise proposal to expand Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible undocumented adults ages 60 and older. However, both the Senate and Assembly budget package adopted this week includes funding to expand Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented adults ages 50 and older. Legislative leaders and the Newsom Administration are anticipated to negotiate the age threshold for Medi-Cal expansion among undocumented residents.
SB 17 (Pan) as amended May 20, 2021 – SUPPORT
SB 17 by Senator Richard Pan was advanced from the Senate to the Assembly on Wednesday on a 31-6 vote with three members not voting. SB 17 would establish a statewide Office of Racial Equity to be governed by a Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council to coordinate, analyze, develop, evaluate, and recommend strategies for advancing racial equity across state agencies, departments, and the Office of the Governor. SB 17 is supported by CHEAC, CAPH, CWDA, and CBHDA and aligns closely with our previous CHEAC statement and county association statement on racism as a public health crisis.
Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Services
AB 1046 (Rubio) as amended May 24, 2021 – SUPPORT
AB 1046 by Assembly Member Blanca Rubio would require the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Agency, upon availability of funding, to consult with stakeholders to improve state and counties’ abilities to draw down Medi-Cal funding for evidence-based maternal-infant and early childhood home visiting encounters. AB 1046 was advanced by the Assembly to the Senate on Tuesday on a 77-0 vote with two members not voting.
SB 682 (Rubio) as amended May 25, 2021 – SUPPORT
SB 682 by Senator Susan Rubio was advanced from the Senate to the Assembly on Wednesday on a 38-0 vote with two members not voting. The measure would require CHHS, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature, to develop and implement a plan that establishes targets to reduce racial disparities in health outcomes by 50 percent by December 2030. The measure also requires CHHS to develop a plan to reach reduction targets in chronic conditions affecting children, including asthma, diabetes, dental caries, depression, and vaping-related disease.
SB 395 (Caballero) as amended May 3, 2021 – SUPPORT
SB 395 by Senator Anna Caballero was advanced by the Senate to the Assembly on Tuesday on a 29-8 vote with three members not voting. SB 395 would impose a 12.5 percent tax on the retail sale of electronic cigarettes in California and allocate tax revenues to Proposition 99, Proposition 10, and Proposition 56 accounts. A portion of revenues would also be dedicated to the Health Careers Opportunity Grant Program to improve access by underrepresented students from disadvantaged backgrounds to postsecondary health professions programs, including schools of public health. CHEAC is joined by CSAC in supporting SB 395.