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Health Equity Forum: State Legislation Update – July 2017

Legislative Update

Entering the last weeks before the Legislature breaks for summer, CPEHN bills are well-positioned to advance forward. All four of our sponsored bills remain active and look forward to their final votes in August and September.

  • SB 223 (Atkins), Health Care Non-Discrimination Act, will require all health plans in California to comply with non-discrimination measures, strengthen consumer protections, and align language access standards regardless of changes in federal policy. This bill brings all health plans to the highest standards for providing language assistance and interpretation services for Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals. It will also preserve in state law key non-discrimination notification provisions from the Affordable Care Act. Despite opposition, SB 223 received bi-partisan support in the Assembly Health Committee.

Status: Passed Assembly Health Committee. Pending in Assembly Appropriations.

  • AB 391 (Chiu). Asthma Preventative Services Act, co-sponsored by Regional Asthma Management & Prevention and Children Now, will allow California to better deliver care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries with asthma by adopting policies to expand access to cost-effective preventative care and provide healthcare workforce opportunities for communities of color. Specifically, this bill directs the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to cover asthma education and home environmental asthma trigger assessment services provided by qualified professionals that may fall outside of the state’s clinical licensure system as long as the services have been initially recommended by a licensed practitioner. AB 391 enjoyed unanimous bi-partisan support in the Senate Health Committee.

Status: Passed Senate Health Committee. Pending in Senate Appropriations.

  • AB 470 (Arambula), Mental Health Equity Act, will establish robust tracking and evaluation measures to ensure Medi-Cal beneficiaries have timely access to quality mental health services that meet their cultural and language needs. Specifically, for adult specialty mental health, AB 470 would facilitate the improvement of mental health outcomes and the reduction of disparities for adults receiving specialty mental health services by implementing a statewide performance and outcomes reporting system. This reporting system would include statewide and plan-specific reporting on utilization, timely access, language access, and quality.

Status: Passed Senate Health Committee. Pending in Senate Appropriations Committee.

  • AB 179 (Cervantes) Promoting Equity, Health and Diverse Representation in Transportation, co-sponsored by Center for Community Action & Environmental Justice and ClimatePlan, will restructure the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to ensure diverse representation that promotes equitable transportation planning and protects public health. Recent amendments to the bill directs the Governor to ensure members of the CTC are diverse, including considering commissioners' socio-economic background, professional experience and experience working in or representing disadvantaged communities. AB 179 also requires the CTC to coordinate with the Air Resources Board to meet the state climate goals.

Status: Passed Senate Transportation & Housing. Pending Senate Appropriations Committee.

State Budget Update

The beginning of July also marks the start of the state’s new fiscal year. On June 15, the Legislature finalized the spending plan for this upcoming year, passing the 2017-2018 State Budget which delivers critical investments in the long-term health and well-being of all residents, despite ongoing federal uncertainty. The final plan includes a full restoration of adult dental benefits in the Medi-Cal program that were rolled back in 2009 and scraps a problematic proposal to transfer recent legal immigrants, also referred to as “Newly Qualified Immigrants (NQI),” from Medi-Cal into Covered California.

Finally, the budget deal also reached agreement on a spending plan for the Proposition 56 Tobacco Tax dollars in Medi-Cal. The final deal commits to spending up to $800 million with at least:

  • $325 million for physician provider payments
  • $140 million for dental providers payments
  • $50 million for family planning
  • $27 million for care for the developmentally disabled
  • $4 million for HIV/AIDS care

Check out CPEHN’s 2017-2018 Budget Scorecard for a full summary of priorities in health and other issues impacting our communities.