Bill Introduction Deadline Quickly Approaching

Only one week remains for the Legislature to introduce bills for consideration this Legislative year as Friday, February 16 marks the bill introduction deadline. The CHEAC Legislative Committee will be reviewing new bills on February 23 and March 9, and CHEAC will provide an updated bill chart identifying active bills following those meetings.

In the meantime, our current bill chart has been updated to reflect two-year bills that are proceeding through the legislative process. Our CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Assembly Business and Professions Committee Explore Ways to Address the Opioid Epidemic

The Assembly Business and Professions Committee, chaired by Assembly Member Evan Low (Santa Clara), held an informational hearing this week titled ‘Advancing Technology to Combat the Opioid Crisis’.  The hearing had a robust discussion and consisted of four panels: 1) Overview of the Opioid Crisis; 2) CURES Program Overview and Future; 3) Balancing Patient Privacy and the Lewis Decision; and 4) Practice Perspectives.

Dr. Karen Smith, Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and Kelly Pfeifer of the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) provided committee members with an overview of the current opioid challenges in California. They discussed the work being led by CDPH in partnership with CHCF, including the opioid safety coalitions, the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System and the hub-and-spoke model for medication assisted treatment. They noted that while California’s overdose rate is less than the national average, there is still much work to be done. In addition they highlighted wide variation in overdose rates county to county. Dr. Smith also noted that while opioid overdoses are declining in our state, illicit drug overdoses – such as fentanyl and heroine – are increasing.

Members of the committee raised questions around racial disparities, disproportionate impacts to rural communities, and stigma on treatment and harm reduction strategies – with Assembly Member Eggman referencing her bill to create safe-injection sites that failed last year.

Other panels walked through the evolution and limitation of the CURES system, who has access, how data is extracted, and what opportunities lie ahead. The American Civil Liberties Union highlighted concerns around law enforcement’s access to the CURES system without a warrant in light of medical information being shared with non-medical personnel. Pharmacists and physicians provided examples of how the CURES systems have successfully been used in their fields and others spoke to expanding opportunities for other medical practices that could reduce chronic pain. Lastly, one panelist raised concerns that prescribing opioids is becoming increasingly stigmatized and that there are circumstances that do warrant continued access to opioids for pain management such as traumatic injuries and end-of-life care.

Additional information is provided in the agenda and background paper.

Hearings Conclude on Universal Coverage

This week, the Assembly Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal convened their last two hearings exploring Universal Coverage. Monday’s hearing focused on implementation considerations for universal coverage and explored the financing challenges of a new model. The Legislative Analyst’s Office released Financing Considerations for Potential State Healthcare Policy Changes and provided the Select Committee with an overview. The discussions highlighted the challenges in moving forward, which included securing under a seemingly unsupportive Federal Administration in addition to Constitutional challenges related to state revenue sources.

Wednesday’s hearing continued to explore options for universal coverage and included a presentation by the California Nurses Association focused on single payer. While single payer took up a considerable portion of the morning discussion, the Committee was provided additional presentations from key health experts including Health Access.

During the hearing, Assembly Member Wood announced the Committee would release a report in the Spring based on the findings from the five hearings conducted, which may include actionable items and indicated Wednesday’s hearings concluded the select committee convenings.

Hearing agendas and materials can be found here.