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California Legislature takes action on health bills

On May 29, 2013, AB 900 passed a third reading (75-0) and now heads to the Senate.  The companion bill in the Senate is SB 640.  AB 900 would exempt skilled nursing facilities (that are distinct components of acute care hospitals) from the 10 percent reduction in specified Medi-Cal provider payments previously enacted in AB 97 (Chapter 3, Statutes of 2011).  The exemptions in AB 900 would be effective for services provided on or after July 1, 2013, as such, rate reductions for services rendered between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013 would still apply.  Implementation of the rate reductions has been delayed pending legal review.  Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the state’s right to reduce payments to its Medi-Cal providers.  Thus, implementation of the cuts is scheduled to proceed.  The Brown Administration has indicated they would apply the cuts retroactively if the court(s) ruled in their favor.  However, the plaintiffs can still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and an injunction could be granted to delay implementation pending the high court’s decision.

Also proceeding to the Senate is AB 1263 (52-21), which establishes the “CommuniCal” program to expand medical interpretation services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries with limited English proficiency.

The Senate also moved forward with SB 364 (39-0), which streamlines and standardizes procedures for providing mental health services in the least restrictive settings for individuals involuntary committed for observation and treatment.

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