July 16, 2021 Edition

Legislature Meets Policy Committee Deadline, Adjourns for Month-Long Summer Recess

This week, the California State Senate and Assembly continued a steady pace of legislative and budget actions before adjourning for their month-long summer recess. The deadline for policy committees to meet and report bills passed on Wednesday, leaving a relatively narrow window for legislators to get their bills across the finish line during the remainder of this year’s legislative session.

Looking ahead, legislators will return to Sacramento from their summer recess on August 16. Upon the Legislature’s return, fiscal committees are anticipated work through numerous bills before the legislature shifts to floor sessions only. The last day of the legislative session is September 10.

Below, we highlight several actions of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, the latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Built Environment & Climate Change

AB 585 (L. Rivas) as amended July 13, 2021 – SUPPORT

AB 585, authored by Assembly Member Luz Rivas, would establish the Extreme Heat and Community Resilience Program within the Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to coordinate state efforts and support local and regional efforts to mitigate the impacts of and reduce the public risks of extreme heat. This measure would direct OPR to establish criteria and guideline for grants and give priority to applicants serving in disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations. AB 585 was advanced out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on a 5-0 vote with two members not voting this week and now moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Communicable Disease Control

SB 744 (Glazer) as amended July 14, 2021 – OPPOSE UNLESS AMENDED

SB 744, authored by Senator Steve Glazer, would require the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), upon an appropriation by the Legislature, to create a program to provide for the expedited release, during a declared public health emergency, of specified health care data to researchers of specified institutions of higher education. The bill would also require any electronic tool used by a local health officer for reporting communicable disease cases to include the capacity to collect and report data on the type of housing where the patient resides, the number of people in the patient’s household, and occupation and workplace of the patient, and a relevant travel history based on the disease course. SB 744 was heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week, passing on an 11-0 vote. The bill now moves on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Drug and Alcohol Services

AB 381 (Davies) as amended June 14, 2021 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Laura Davies’s AB 381 was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and advanced to the Senate Appropriations Committee on consent. The measure would require licensed recovery or treatment facilities to administer naloxone hydrochloride or any opioid antagonist approved by the U.S. FDA for treatment of an opioid overdose. AB 381 would also require one staff member to know where facility naloxone hydrochloride or approved opioid antagonists are stored and has been trained to administer the drug.

Health Coverage/Health Care Reform

SB 326 (Pan) as amended June 30, 2021 – SUPPORT

SB 326 by Senator Pan eliminates all federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) statutory “tie-backs.” This measure codifies ACA provisions health insurance reforms in California law including coverage for the 10 essential health benefits, guaranteed issue and renewability provisions, prohibitions on imposing pre-existing conditions exclusions, prohibitions on establishing coverage rules based on certain health status related factors, and limits on premium variations based on individuals/family size, geographic area, age, and tobacco use. SB 326 was passed out of Assembly Health on consent this week and moves to Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Health Equity

SB 682 (Rubio) as amended July6, 2021 – SUPPORT

Senator Susan Rubio’s SB 682 would establish the End Racial Inequities in Children’s Health in California Initiative (EnRICH CA Initiative) and require the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Agency to convene an advisory workgroup to develop and implement a plan to reduce racial disparities in childhood chronic diseases. SB 682 was advanced from Assembly Health on consent this week to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Tobacco Control

SB 395 (Caballero) as amended July 15, 2021 – SUPPORT

SB 395 by Senator Anna Caballero would impose a 12.5 percent tax on the retail sale of electronic cigarettes in California and allocate tax revenue to Proposition 99, Proposition 10, and Proposition 56 accounts. Amendments taken this week on SB 395 would also direct a portion of the revenues to the Health Careers Opportunity Grant Program, the University of California, and the newly created Small and Rural Hospital Relief Fund for seismic-related construction among small, rural, and critical access hospitals. SB 395 was advanced out of the Health Committee on a 12-2 vote with one member not voting. The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Vital Statistics

AB 751 (Irwin) as amended July 15, 2021 – SUPPORT

This measure, authored by Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin, was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. AB 751 would remove the sunset date provisions allowing local registrars to accept electronic requests sworn under penalty of perjury, that the requester of a marriage, birth, or death certificate is an authorized person. Additionally, this measure would authorize officials to accept an electronic request from applicants using a process that authentically identifies applicants using National Institute of Standards and Technology Digital Identity Guidelines and other requirements. AB 751 was advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 9-1 vote with one member not voting and will next be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Governor Signs into Law Budget Act, Legislature Passes Health Trailer Bill

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the state’s FY 2021-22 budget agreement between the Newsom Administration and the Legislature. Recall, last month the Legislature passed its own version of the budget (AB 128) to meet the June 15 constitutional budget deadline while negotiations between legislative leaders and the Newsom Administration.

Then, at the end of June, lawmakers secured agreement with the Newsom Administration and passed a measure (SB 129) representing the overall budget framework between the executive and legislative parties. Over the past couple weeks, the Senate and Assembly have continued negotiations and work on budget trailer bills that provide key implementation and funding details on various subject areas.

The Legislature this week passed over 10 budget trailer bills, including the health omnibus trailer bill (AB 133). Many of the budget trailer bills were signed into law by Governor Newsom today.

Of note, the health omnibus trailer bill includes numerous implementation provisions for California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), STDs and communicable disease control, and Medi-Cal benefits and services, among other areas. Notably, AB 133 does not include any provisions related to funding for public health infrastructure and workforce being sought by the California Can’t Wait Coalition.

CHEAC has published a summary chart of the major provisions included in AB 133. As a reminder, CHEAC’s FY 2021-22 Budget Agreement Memo is available here.

Additional information from the Governor’s Office about the state budget is available here and available here. A full budget agreement summary from the Department of Finance (DOF) is available here.

CDPH Issues Updated K-12 Schools Guidance for the 2021-22 School Year

Following last week’s issuance of updated K-12 schools guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Monday released the state’s schools guidance for the 2021-22 school year. The CDPH guidance aligns California school policy with the CDC’s guidance, and CDPH has acknowledged the priority to return students to safe and full in-person instruction for the upcoming school year.

CDPH’s guidance emphasizes the use of layered prevention strategies, including wearing masks and maintain a robust testing program. The state continues to require K-12 students to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and schools must develop and implement local protocols to enforce mask requirements. The CDPH guidance additionally covers areas related to physical distancing, ventilation, isolation and quarantine, screening testing, and other considerations associated with ensuring safe in-person school instruction.

The full CDPH schools guidance for the 2021-22 school year is available here.

CMS Opens Public Comment for California’s CalAIM Waiver Request

This week, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed receipt and completion of California’s Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver, referred to as California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM). CMS today opened a 30-day federal public comment period, allowing individuals to provide input on California’s request for a five-year Medicaid demonstration extension. The federal public comment period will close on August 15, 2021.

California’s waiver request, as well as public comment information, is available here.

State Unveils New Consolidated Cannabis Department

One of the deals struck in this year’s FY 2021-22 State Budget was the consolidation of the state’s three legalized cannabis governing departments (Bureau of Cannabis Control, California Department of Public Health, and Department of Food and Agriculture) into one centralized department now known as the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). The intent of this consolidation is to improve access to cannabis licensing, simplify regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity, and to improve enforcement of both the legal and illegal cannabis market. Following his signature on the budget trailer bill creating the new Department earlier this week, Governor Newsom appointed several key positions for the DCC including Nicole Elliott as Director and Rasha Salama as the DCC’s Chief Deputy Director.

CDC Reports 30 Percent Increase in Overdose Deaths in 2020

This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data of drug overdose death counts for 2020, finding a nearly 30 percent increase in overdose deaths compared to the year prior. Approximately 93,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2020, compared to 72,000 in 2019. Notably, California, along with nine other states, are anticipated to realize at least a 40 percent increase in overdose deaths from the previous 12-month span.

According to the CDC, opioids accounted for the largest increases in drug overdose deaths. Preliminary data suggests fentanyl was involved in more than 60 percent of the overdose deaths last year, with significant increases realized in the Western U.S. As CDC data further indicates, deaths related opioids (and especially fentanyl) far outpaced overdose deaths caused by heroin last year. Individuals between the ages of 35 and 44 accounted for the highest number of opioid overdose deaths.

The 2020 provisional figures represent the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, as well as the largest increase since at least 1999. In explaining the significant jump in overdose deaths, experts suggest the COVID-19 pandemic likely played a compounding role relative to drug treatment access, stay-at-home orders, and economic stressors.

The CDC is anticipated to finalize 2020 data over the coming months. Provisional data from the CDC is available here.

U.S. Surgeon General Issues Advisory on Confronting Health Misinformation

This week, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued the Biden-Harris Administration’s first health advisory, warning the American public about the urgent threat of health misinformation. As indicated by the U.S. Health and Human Services, health misinformation and disinformation have threated the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to prevent Americans from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Notably, Surgeon General Murthy calls on technology and social media companies to take more responsibility to stop the spread of health misinformation.

The Surgeon General’s advisory identifies strategies for the nation to confront health misinformation by helping individuals, families, and communities better identify and limit its spread. The advisory also identifies approaches to address misinformation among education, media, medicine, research, and governmental sectors.

The full health advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General is available here.