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Health Care Bills at the End of Regular Session, September 2015

The regular legislative session ended on Friday with a number of health care related bills sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Read below for a summary of these bills.

ABX2-15 – End of Life Option Act, Susan Eggman (D-Stockton)

The End of Life Option Act has been getting the most attention nationwide. The bill would allow some dying patients to request a lethal prescription of medicine from a physician. The dying patient must: 1) self-administer the medication, 2) be mentally competent and, 3) have a prognosis of six months or less to live as confirmed by two physicians.

AB 858 – Marriage Family Therapist Billable Providers, Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg)

With the passage of this bill Marriage Family Therapists (MFT) providing services at federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health centers will be reimbursed based on face-to face encounters. Currently, services offered by MFTs are financially supported by enhanced payments to FQHCs called protective payment system rates or PPS rates. This change will improve access to much needed behavioral health services.

AB 1073 – Prescription Drug Label Bill, Phil Ting (D-San Francisco)

This bill will require multi-lingual instructions on drug labels and instructions when requested by patients. Said labels and instructions will be in at least five languages including, Chinese Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

AB 1130 – Intermittent Health Centers Hours Increased, Adam Gray (D-Merced)

Intermittent health centers such as those located at schools, homeless shelters and rural areas are currently restricted to operating 20 hours per week. In order to improve access to primary health care services, this bill increases their operating hours to 30 hours per week.

AB 1305 – Family Deductibles Bill, Rob Bonta (D-Oakland)

This bill will require all family health plans to include a per-individual deductible and a per-individual out-of-pocket limit. Currently, family health plans require family members to reach separate deductibles or a larger family sized deductible. The State insurance exchange, Covered California, already follows these requirements for the family health plans offered on the exchange.

SB 137 – Accurate Provider Directories, Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina)

One of the biggest consumer issues in California since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been the reliability of health plan provider directories. Many of the directories were difficult for consumers to access and were not up to date, thus making an informed health plan decision nearly impossible. This bill would require health plans to update directories more frequently, inform consumers if a provider is accepting new patients and release information about the languages offered by health care providers in-network.

SB 147 – Payment Reform Pilot Program for Federally Qualified Health Centers, Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina)

This bill would allow California FQHCs to participate in a pilot payment methodology program that would enable greater flexibility to deliver health care to patients. FQHCs opting in the pilot program would be paid through capitation payments from their health plans than based on traditional fee for service amounts. With passage of the bill, DHCS can authorize a voluntary three-year pilot program.

SB 610 – Timely Reimbursement for Health Centers, Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)

The State can take a lengthy amount of time, approximately five years, establishing Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for health centers. Some health centers struggle financially whole waiting for these payments. This bill would require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish timely finalization of Medi-Cal reimbursement rates and, most importantly, payments to FQHCs as part of the reconciliation process.

No-Go for Package of Tobacco Bills

The group of tobacco bills that would have continued highlight California’s commitment to strict tobacco regulations were not did not get the support in the Assembly to move forward. The group of bills included a range of policies to continue to curb tobacco usage including increasing the age to buy tobacco products, adding new smoke-free environments and allowing local jurisdictions to tax tobacco. It is possible that elements of these bills could be resurrected in the special session or next session. For more detailed information on each of these six bills in the group, please visit here.

For more detailed information on these bills and others, please visit California Legislative Information.