Returning Health Bills on Capitol Agenda

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

When the California Senate and Assembly met yesterday for the first time since September, most of the public oration on the floor in both chambers centered on tributes to recently deceased South African leader Nelson Mandela.

As attention turns to legislative issues, lawmakers will have some familiar ground to cover with 104 bills carrying over on the Assembly side and 108 bills in the Senate, including many health care issues in both chambers.

The health care issues that may be in play this session include:

  • proposal by Assembly member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to set up a spinal cord injury research fund, which was passed by both houses but vetoed in October by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).
  • AB 912 by Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) would require health insurers to cover fertility preservation services. That bill also was vetoed by the governor.
  • Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) shepherded SB 158 through the Legislature last year (vetoed by Brown) that would have set up an autism demonstration program, a pilot project to improve autism services and care coordination at the regional centers.
  • The governor also vetoed AB 50 by Assembly member Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), which would give full-scope Medi-Cal benefits to pregnant women below 100% of federal poverty level.
  • The biosimilars bill by Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) was hit with a veto, too. And if you know what a biosimilar is, you get extra points from your high school science teacher. Biologic medical drugs come from living organisms, controlled through gene expression. Biosimilars copy that process, and can be used after a biologic patent ends. Now you know.
  • AB 880 by Assembly member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) was put on the inactive file, and can be returned. It would require large employers to pay a share of health care costs when employees go onto Medi-Cal coverage. It was prompted, in part, by Walmart's decision to eliminate health benefits for those working less than 24 hours a week, and for newly hired employees working fewer than 30 hours a week, qualifying those employees for expanded Medi-Cal coverage.

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