Legislature Reaches Bill Introduction Deadline, CHEAC Issues First Bill Chart of 2021
Legislative activities in Sacramento continue to ramp up following last Friday’s deadline for lawmakers to introduce legislative bills in their respective houses. The Assembly introduced nearly 1,600 bills and the Senate introduced over 800 bills that will be considered by the Legislature over the coming months.
In other related news, Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed six immediate action budget bills providing over $7.6 billion in relief to Californians most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall last week, the Governor and Legislative Leaders struck an agreement on the wide-ranging relief package which includes $600 one-time payments to low-income residents, small business relief grants, business fee waivers, and support for individuals and families, among other actions. A statement from the Governor on the pandemic relief package is available here.
The CHEAC Legislative Committee this week met for its first bill review meeting to assess nearly 60 legislative bills impacting local health departments and public health. The committee identified a number of bills of interest, including in areas of COVID-19, health coverage and health care reform, public health emergency preparedness, and tobacco control, among other areas. Our first CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart of 2021 is now published and accessible here. As a friendly reminder, information on CHEAC’s legislative advocacy activities is available on our website here and will be updated throughout the legislative session.
Below, we highlight bills of particular interest now being tracked by CHEAC.
Access to Health Services
AB 32 (Aguiar-Curry) as amended February 12, 2021 – SUPPORT
AB 32 by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry requires the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to indefinitely continue telehealth flexibilities established during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure requires reimbursement parity for telehealth services, authorizes providers to enroll or recertify beneficiaries in certain Medi-Cal programs remotely, and requires DHCS to convene an advisory group on the subject. CHEAC supports AB 32 to increase access to health services and provide flexibilities to Medi-Cal beneficiaries seeking care through telehealth modalities.
SB 316 (Eggman) as introduced February 4, 2021 – SUPPORT
Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman’s SB 316 would authorize reimbursement for a maximum of two visits on the same day at the same federally qualified health center (FQHC) or rural health center (RHC) if: 1) the patient suffers an illness or injury requiring additional treatment or diagnosis; or 2) if the patient has a medical visit and a mental health visit or dental visit. The measure includes provisions around FQHC/RHC per-visit reimbursement rate adjustments and requires DHCS to seek a state plan amendment from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Companion measures AB 875 by Assembly Member Jim Wood and SB 256 by Senator Richard Panwill serve as the legislative vehicles for statutory changes related to California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative proposals set forth by the Newsom Administration. The measures specify enhanced care management (ECM) as a covered Medi-Cal benefit no sooner than January 2022 and require Medi-Cal managed care plans to disclose the availability of in lieu of services (ILOS) and settings available to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
AB 45 by Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar Curry and SB 235 by Senator Ben Allen would both allow food, beverages, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and pet food to be manufactured with the addition of CBD derived from industrial hemp. Establishes labeling and testing requirements for hemp CBD products and prohibits the inclusion of CBD in medical devices, prescription drugs, processed smokable products, including e-cigarettes with nicotine, hookah and shisha with nicotine, and any product that contains nicotine, tobacco, or alcohol.
Communicable Disease Control
SB 306 (Pan) as introduced February 4, 2021 – SUPPORT
SB 306 by Senator Richard Pan expands a number of services to address sexually transmitted diseases including requiring third trimester congenital syphilis testing for pregnant persons, allowing pharmacists to provide expedited partner treatment (EPT) for STDs, requiring both private and public health insurance coverage to cover home STD kits, adding EPT treatment and liability protections for physicians when diagnosing and treating STDs, allowing HIV counselors to perform rapid STD tests, and allowing reimbursement in the Family PACT program for STD related services to the uninsured, income eligible patients, or patients without healthcare coverage with confidentiality concerns who are not at risk for pregnancy or do not need contraceptive services.
SB 49 (Umberg) as amended February 1, 2021 – WATCH
SB 49 by Senator Tom Umberg would prohibit counties and cities, along with state agencies, from collecting regulatory license fees from any business that has been ordered to close in response to the COVID-19 state of emergency including restaurants/bars or an entity licensed by the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
SB 336 (Ochoa Bogh) as introduced February 8, 2021 – WATCH
SB 336 by Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, and co-authored by the Senate Republican Caucus, would requires local health officers (LHO) or CDPH, when taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to have those measures published for 72 hours on their respective websites before taking effect and becoming enforceable. In addition, SB 336 requires CDPH and LHOs to contact all local organizations representing local businesses in each county.
Drug and Alcohol Services
AB 381 (Davies) as introduced February 2, 2021 – SUPPORT
AB 381 authored by Assembly Member Laurie Davies requires licensed adult alcoholism or drug abuse recovery or treatment facilities to administer naloxone and have at least one staff member on premises who knows where facility naloxone is stored and has been trained on the administration of the drug.
SB 57 (Wiener) as introduced December 7, 2020 – WATCH
SB 57 by Senator Scott Wiener, and co-authored by Senator Susan Eggman, would authorize the City and County of San Francisco, the City of Oakland, and Los Angeles County to approve entities to operate overdose prevention programs, including supervised injection sites. Delineates the requirements for these sites and provides prosecutorial immunity for those involved in the operation or use of the site. Specifies required operating procedures.
SB 296 (Limón) as introduced February 3, 2021 – WATCH
SB 296 by Senator Monique Limón requires each local jurisdiction that employs code enforcement officers to develop code enforcement officer safety standards. The measure is sponsored by the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers.
Health Coverage/Health Care Reform
AB 4 (Arambula) as introduced December 7, 2020 – SUPPORT
AB 4 by Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula expands Medi-Cal to all undocumented adults with income at or below 138% FPL, subject to an appropriation by the Legislature.
SB 56 (Durazo) as introduced December 7, 2020 – SUPPORT
SB 56 authored by Senator Maria Elena Durazo would expands Medi-Cal to all undocumented adults 65 years of age and older with incomes at or below 138% FPL subject to an appropriation by the Legislature effective July 2022.
SB 326 (Pan) as introduced February 5, 2021 – SUPPORT
SB 326 by Senator Richard Pan, and co-authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood, both chairs of their respective Health committees, would codify the remaining Affordable Care Act (ACA) health coverage reforms that are “tied” to federal statute in California statute including 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 an individua, family size, geographic area, age, and tobacco use.
SB 17 (Pan) as amended February 25, 2021 – SUPPORT
Senator Richard Pan’s SB 17 would establish a statewide Office of Racial Equity to be governed by a Racial Equity Advisory and Accountability Council. The measure requires the Office to develop a statewide Racial Equity Framework providing guidelines for inclusive policies and practices that reduce racial inequities, promote racial equity, address individual, institutional, and structural racism, and establish goals and strategies to advance racial equity and address structural racism and racial inequities. Requires each state agency to adopt and implement a Racial Equity Action Plan that aligns with the statewide Racial Equity Framework and report annually on progress. CHEAC strongly supports SB 17. Recall, CHEAC last year issued a statement declaring racism a public health crisis and calling for additional action at federal, state, and local levels.
Public Health Emergency Preparedness
AB 536 (Rodriguez) as introduced February 10, 2021 – WATCH
AB 536 by Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez requires the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to conduct a gap analysis of the state’s mutual aid system on a biennial basis considering the firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical services, mass care, shelter, and hospital surge capacity required to respond to two simultaneous major disasters in California.
Public Health Infrastructure
AB 240 (Rodriguez) as introduced January 13, 2021 – SUPPORT
AB 240 by Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez is CHEAC’s sponsored bill requiring the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to contract with an appropriate and qualified entity to conduct an evaluation of the adequacy of the local health department infrastructure in California and to make recommendations for future staffing, workforce, and resource needs in order to accurately and adequately fund local public health.
AB 598 (R. Rivas) as introduced February 11, 2021 – SUPPORT
Assembly Member Robert Rivas’ AB 598 requires the California Attorney General to establish and maintain online a list of tobacco products that lack a characterizing flavor by July 2022. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to require tobacco manufacturers and importers to submit a list of all tobacco brand styles and sets forth other related provisions regarding the determination of a tobacco product with a characterizing flavor. The measure is sponsored by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.