January 27, 2017 Edition

Xavier Becerra Sworn in as California Attorney General

On Tuesday, January 24, Governor Brown administered the oath of office to former Congressman Xavier Becerra, swearing him in as California’s 33rd Attorney General and first Latino to hold that office.  He succeeds U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and will serve the remaining two years of her Attorney General term.

Attorney General Becerra previously served 12 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and served one term in the California Legislature. He has also previously served as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice.


President Executive Order, Patient Freedom Act and CSAC Webinar

Executive Order

After being sworn in last Friday, President Trump moved quickly on signing an Executive Order to signaling his commitment to dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and any other executive departments or agencies with authority for the ACA to do the following:

  • Waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement that imposes a fiscal burden on states, individuals, health care providers, health insurers or medical device makers;
  • Provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs; and
  • Encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance.

According to the Health Affairs blog the Executive Order is unlikely to have a significant impact on the ACA.  In addition, President Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, has yet to be confirmed.  He appeared before the Senate Finance Committee this week (last week before the Senate HELP committee) who have yet to vote on his nomination (which moves it to the full Senate for a vote).

Cassidy-Collins Patient Freedom Act

Meanwhile, another congressional proposal to replace the ACA appeared this week from Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) known as the Patient Freedom Act.  The proposal would repeal key mandates in the ACA, including the individual mandate, employer mandate. It would continue several consumer protections, including the prohibitions on lifetime limits, pre-existing condition exclusion, allow young adults to remain on their parent’s plan until age 26 and continues coverage for behavioral health.

The proposal further pushes decisions to the state, providing three options:

  1. “Re-implement” the ACA, with up to 95 percent of the federal funding that would have otherwise been available absent a repeal of the ACA.
  2. Implement the alternative, which would be the default option, where the federal government would offer a tax credit to contribute to a Health Savings Account in lieu of marketplace subsidies. Federal funding would again, be capped at 95 percent of the funding that would have been available under the ACA.
  3.  Construct a solution different than the aforementioned options absent any federal assistance.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute, the Cassidy-Collins plan would leave millions relying on coverage under the ACA uninsured as it pushes decisions on states and scales back federal support.

CSAC ACA Repeal Webinar

This week, CSAC hosted a webinar “Repealing the ACA: Effects on Counties” CHEAC Executive Director, Michelle Gibbons, CSAC Health and Human Services Legislative Representative Farrah McDaid-Ting, and CSAC federal lobbyist Tom Joseph of Waterman and Associates discussed the risks to California and counties in the event of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.


Upcoming Senate Informational Hearing on Cannabis

Next Monday, January 30, the Senate Business, Professions & Economic Development, Agriculture and Health Committees will host a joint hearing on Cannabis regulations. The hearing will include implementation updates from the following state representatives and will also include various stakeholder perspectives.

  • Lori Ajax, Chief, Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Jim Houston, Undersecretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Amber Morris, Branch Chief, California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • Karen Smith, MD, MPH, Director, California Department of Public Health

Materials for the hearing are linked below. Any additional materials posted before the hearing can be found on the Senate Health Committee’s website.

Agenda

Prop 64 vs. Medical Marijuana Laws Overview

LAO Policy Post: Key Differences Between Recent Medical Cannabis Laws and Proposition 64: A Preliminary Review


CHEAC 2016 Public Health Accreditation Status Survey

The results of CHEAC’s 2016 Public Health accreditation status survey are now available.  The 2016 Dashboard indicates that six more local health departments were accredited in 2016 (for a total of seven statewide plus CDPH).  In addition, eight local health departments were in the process of seeking formal accreditation status late last year.  If these LHDs are successful, California would reach about a quarter of the state’s local health departments achieving this goal.  An additional 14 health departments intend to formally apply to PHAB in 2017.


Reaccreditation

This week, PHAB released their guide to the reaccreditation process.  This particular guide applies to those accredited health departments that submitted their application for initial accreditation prior to June 30, 2016.  For those that are interested, PHAB will be hosting a webinar on the reaccreditation process on Thursday, February 9, at 10:00 am PST.  Registration information can be found here .