The California Legislature has just passed the halfway point of the Session. All bills were required to move out of the “House of Origin” by June 2nd. At the same time the state budget is being negotiated between the Administration and Legislature.
One significant item in the healthcare area of the budget is the proposal by the Administration for a “managed care organization” tax that would generate as much as $19 billion for the Medi-Cal program of which up to $11 billion may go towards increasing Med-Cal provider reimbursement rates. Details are still being negotiated but rumors include potentially $3.5 billion will be used to increase rates for specialty physicians. As more information becomes available, I will update everyone.
The major health-related bill being debated was SB 525 (Durazo). This bill would establish a $25/hour minimum wage for all healthcare workers. Numerous provider and business groups were strongly opposing the bill which is being sponsored by SEIU. The author was having problems securing enough votes to pass the bill, so she took an amendment to stagger the increase in minimum wage to go to $21 for 2024 and then to $25 in 2025. Even with this amendment the bill was struggling to get the necessary 21 votes. After intense lobbying on both sides, the bill ended passing with a minimum of 21 votes. California ACC has an Oppose position on the bill.
Below are details of the outcomes for other bill California ACC is advocating.
SB 598 (Skinner) – Support – Passed the Senate
This bill allows physicians who have had 90% of their prior authorization requests approved by a given health plan to not go through prior authorization for the subsequent 12 months. This bill is in the Assembly.
AB 1473 (Maienschein) – Support – Passed Assembly
This bill had contained language to require schools to include both AED and CPR training in physical education courses. The Assembly Education “recommended” amendments deleting the mandated training and directing the Instructional Quality Commission to consider increasing curriculum for AED and CPR training when it updates its physical education framework when it is next revised after January 1, 2024. The bill is in the Senate.
SB 694 (Eggman) – Support – Passed Senate
This bill would make self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) devices and services a covered benefit under the Medi-Cal program. This bill is currently in the Assembly.
AB 365 (Aguiar-Curry) – Support – Passed Assembly
This bill would require Medi-Cal to cover continuous glucose monitors and related supplies. This bill is currently in the Senate.
SB 524 (Caballero) – Oppose – Held in Senate Appropriations Committee
This bill would allow pharmacists to prescribe medications without any physician involvement based on the results of specified CLIA tests for conditions such as COVID-19, influenza, conjunctivitis, sexually transmitted infections, and strep throat.
AB 874 (Weber) – Support – Held in Assembly Health Committee
This bill would clarify the law to allow patients to use funds received from any source for the purpose of helping them afford medications to count those funds towards their out-of-pocket requirements. Unfortunately, this bill was not heard in the Assembly Health Committee due to concerns with the Chair of the Committee. The bill is eligible to be heard in January of 2024.
AB 948 (Berman) – Support – Passed the Assembly
This bill would permanently make the law cap co-pays for medications at $250 for a 30-day supply. This bill is in the Senate Health Committee
AB 765 (Wood) – Support – Held in Assembly Appropriations Committee
This would protect specified medical titles such as rheumatologist to only allow physicians to use those terms. This bill was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on the Suspense File.
SB 348 (Skinner) – Support – Passed the Senate
This bill would increase the number of meals provided to school children and also establish nutritional guidelines for school meals. This bill is in the Assembly.
SB 357 (Portantino) – Support – Passed the Senate
This bill removes the requirement for physicians and surgeons to report to the DMV patients who are diagnosed with a disorder characterized by lapses in consciousness. This bill is in the Assembly.
AB 1091 (Wood) – Oppose unless Amended – Died in Assembly Health Committee
This bill would give the Attorney General more authority to review healthcare system mergers and acquisitions valued at $15 million or higher.
SB 815 (Roth) – California ACC reviewing for position – Passed the Senate
This is the Medical Board sunset review bill. Once every five years the Legislature reviews each board to look at making any changes. This bill was recently amended to make a number of changes to the Medical Board. Two of most interest are:
• Raises physician licensing fees from $863 to $1,269. The reasoning for the increase is the Medical Board is on the verge of financial insolvency and a fee increase is needed to keep the Board from going bankrupt.
• The Medical Board has historically been composed of both physician and non-physician board members. The board has always had a physician majority. This bill adds additional board seats and changes the makeup from a physician majority to a non-physician majority.
Madden Quinonez Advocacy
cell – 916 284-4317