2019 - 2020 Legislation
Here is the status of legislation from the first year of the 2019-20 legislative session. To see the legislative text or status of the bills, click on the bill number.
Health Care Legislation:
AB 174-Health care affordability. This bill originally was designed to make health care coverage more affordable for people who are purchasing coverage through Covered California by expanding subsidies/tax credits for people earning up to 800 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), rather than the existing 400 percent of FPL. The final state budget expanded subsidies for people earning up to 600 percent of FPL, and although not the 800 percent I was seeking, is an improvement. AB 174 has been modified to track data regarding these increased subsidies to see if they are improving enrollment in health plans. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 12.
AB 204-Hospital community benefit reporting. This bill will standardize how hospitals report the value of their "community benefits." The current reporting requirements do not require hospital systems to break out the value of their community benefits by hospital site and, as a result, individual communities do not have accurate information about how a local hospital is supporting their community. This bill will provide relevant information to local communities.This bill was signed by the Governor on October 7.
AB 290-Dialysis third-party payments. Virtually all patients requiring dialysis, after a specified waiting period, qualify for Medicare, regardless of age. In those cases, dialysis is reimbursed at the Medicare rate. Dialysis companies use a practice of making donations to the American Kidney Fund (AKF) and, in turn, AKF uses those donations to pay for all or portions of a patient's commercial health care coverage and/or treatment which results in the dialysis clinic receiving a higher reimbursement for the treatment. Patients receive the same care, whether they are covered by Medicare/Medi-Cal or commercial insurance and this practice unnecessarily inflates the cost of care and only benefits the dialysis clinics and their corporations which reap billions in profits at the expense of patients and the health care system. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 13.
AB 714-Co-prescribing naloxone. Last year, AB 2760, which was signed into law, requires prescribers to offer a prescription for naloxone to patients at high risk of overdose. This bill will exclude prescribers when they are prescribing, ordering or administering medications to a patient in an inpatient health facility or prescribing to a patient in outpatient-based hospice care. This bill was signed by the Governor on September 5, and because it was an urgency measure, it takes effect immediately.
AB 824-This bill prohibits delaying production of generic drugs and improves access to affordable drugs by making it unlawful for generic and brand name drug manufacturers to enter into pay-for-delay agreements. "Pay for delay" is a practice by which pharmaceutical firms with brand name drugs engage in contracts with generic manufacturers and, sometimes, other entities to delay the production of a generic version of a drug's brand name, usually in exchange for some value, which could include a monetary payment or other type of value. This bill will accomplish this by making these agreements presumptively anti-competitive. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 7.
AB 890-This bill will allow nationally certified nurse practitioners, after completing specific transition requirements, to practice to the full scope of their license independent of physician oversight. Twenty-two other states allow full practice authority of nurse practitioners. Increasing the number of primary care health care practitioners will increase access to care for many more people in California, especially in underserved and rural areas. This bill is a two-year bill and the bill cannot move until January 2020.
AB 899-This bill would authorize a licensed primary care clinic with a license in good standing for the preceding 5 years by the Department of Public Health to acquire ownership or control of an outpatient setting or a previously licensed primary care clinic and would provide that a facility acquired by a licensed primary care clinic be deemed compliant with the minimum standards of adequacy and safety required for the acquiring primary care clinic.This bill was vetoed by the Governor on October 11. His veto message can be found here.
AB 954-Sometimes, to expand network size, a dental plan or insurer will lease a dentist network from a third party (either another dental plan or insurer or a company that aggregates dental networks). Dentists who signed contracts with one dental plan or insurer are sometimes surprised to find out that they were contracted with other plans or don’t know what plans they have been leased to. Leased networks may also confuse dentists about which fee schedules are in effect. Confusion can lead to patient concerns if the wrong coinsurance or copay is charged. Dentists and patients are caught in between with the different dental plans on one side. This bill will increase transparency so that both dentists and patients have more clarity over benefits and co-pays. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 7.
AB 1042-There are nearly 1.2 million low-income seniors enrolled in the state’s Medi-Cal program. Some of these seniors who are temporary residents of skilled nursing facilities are eligible for a Medi-Cal deduction called the “Home Upkeep Allowance.” This allowance allows a person to keep $209 every month, for up to 6 months, for the maintenance of their home while they’re temporarily residing in one of these facilities. Vulnerable seniors may be at risk of losing their homes in these circumstances and this woefully low allowance has not been increased in 40 years. This bill would, first, increase upkeep allowance so seniors can return to their home; the current amount is woefully inadequate to maintain a home in California. Second, it would establish a new “transitional needs fund” for people who want to leave a nursing home but who can’t move out because they don’t have a place to go. This is a two-year bill and cannot move until January 2020.
AB 1088-This bill is intended to prevent seniors and people with disabilities who are dually enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal from losing their Medi-Cal coverage when the state begins paying their Medicare Part B premiums, which covers physician services. This amount, which is $135.50 per month (or $271 for a couple) can be just enough to increase their countable income for purposes of determining their Medi-Cal eligibility and can cause them to be dropped from no-cost Medi-Cal and placed on a share-of-cost Medi-Cal where they would be required to pay hundreds of dollars more for their care. This bill will prevent this unfair process, or "senior penalty," by disregarding the state’s payment for their Medicare premium as income and allowing them to maintain consistent coverage.This bill was signed by the Governor on October 2.
AB 1174-A law passed in 2016, AB 72, prevents consumers from "surprise billing" when their medical care was provided in a network facility but the provider was not a member of their network. That law also requires facilities to maintain a network that has an adequate number of each of the right types of providers to deliver the volume of health care services needed. This legislation will ensure that health plans and health insurers have a contractual relationship with an adequate number of anesthesiologists so that enrollees and insureds will have access to these types of providers at contracted facilities. This is a two-year bill and cannot be taken up until January 2020.
AB 1175-Medi-Cal mental health benefits are delivered to beneficiaries through separate delivery systems. Because these systems are funded and administered separately, there are patients who move between the two systems if their mental health condition improves or worsens. This can result in patients having to switch mental health providers and contact a different plan with a different network of mental health providers while receiving mental health services. This bill is intended to facilitate an easier transition for the patients to protect the continuity of their care. This bill was vetoed by the Governor on October 13. His veto message can be found here and it's important to note that, in it, the Governor said "I support the author's goal of improving care coordination for consumers who receive treatment from multiple delivery systems. As such, I am directing DHCS to exercise its administrative authority over MCPs and MHPs and identify and implement the most efficient and effective method for ensuring these entities coordinate care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries receiving these critically important services."
AB 1642-Medi-Cal managed care plans. This bill would allow Medi-Cal managed care plans to add the use of clinically appropriate telecommunications technology in order to meet the state's required timely access to health care standards. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 2.
AB 1723-Intermittent clinics. Recent changes in state law allow intermittent clinics to be open up to 40 hours per week; however, these laws did not change the 20-hour limit in the Pharmacy Law, which would prevent these clinics from purchasing drugs at wholesale prices.This bill will change that section of the Pharmacy Law to align with 40 hours per week. This bill was signed by the Governor on September 20.
Other important legislation:
AB 38-This bill would establish defensible space and home hardening retrofit standards for buildings in very high fire hazard severity zones. It will also establish the State Fire Preparedness Council with the goal of improving the scale and effectiveness of the state’s fire preparedness, including the creation of regional community fire preparedness councils. This bill would establish the Fire Hardened Homes Revolving Loan Fund in the State Treasury, and although there is currently no funding established for this, ultimately it will be used to distribute funding for no- or low-interest loans to owners of eligible buildings to pay for eligible costs of fire hardening. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 2.
AB 437-This bill would establish the Move-In Loan Program for the purpose of providing grants to eligible nonprofit organizations to be used to provide no-interest loans to eligible applicants to afford the security deposit and first month’s rent for a rental dwelling. Eligibility requirements for loan recipients would include a requirement that the income of the loan recipient is no greater than the area median income in which the rental dwelling is located. This is a two-year bill and cannot be taken up until January 2020.
AB 557-Existing law establishes the Atmospheric Rivers Research, Mitigation, and Climate Forecasting Program in the Department of Water Resources. It requires the department, once funds are available, to research climate forecasting and the causes and impacts that climate change has on atmospheric rivers, to operate reservoirs in a manner that improves flood protection and to operate flood control and water storage facilities to capture water generated by atmospheric rivers. This bill did not move forward because we successfully advocated funding of $9.25 million which was placed into the state budget.
AB 746-Existing law generally prohibits a person from manufacturing, packing, or holding processed food in this state unless the person has a valid registration from the State Department of Public Health. Existing law exempts those holding a valid winegrower’s license or wine blender’s license. This bill would exempt the holder of a valid beer manufacturer’s license from the registration requirements of the law. This bill was signed by the Governor on September 9.
AB 867-This bill was introduced to allow credit cards and installment payments at Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. Although a person can pay using a credit card through DMV online services, you could not walk into a DMV and pay fees with a credit card. The use of credit cards has been implemented as part of the state budget, with pilot projects to begin in fall 2019. Due to infrastructure and software limitations within DMV, the requirement to allow installment payments could not move forward.
AB 1026-This bill seeks to streamline the process, especially rebuilding areas hit by disaster, by establishing the same level of clarity in the design and construction of utility line extensions as currently exists for the fire and life safety building standards that apply to the design and construction of our buildings in the state. This bill makes it clear that once an electrical or gas corporation initially approves the construction, design and specifications, they have officially determined the rules to which the construction must comply. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 1.
AB 1387-The current "annual" fishing license is only valid until December 31, regardless of the purchase date. California has the lowest fishing participation rate per capita in the country -- there has been a 55 percent decrease since 1980. In addition, our antiquated system prevents many people from purchasing a license later in the year because the expense does not make sense for a shortened period of time. This bill was introduced to provide a 365-day license from the date of purchase and would require the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to develop an app that can display your license on your mobile device as well as an auto-renewal feature. Because the CDFW has recently published a plan to recruit, retain and reactivate (R3) hunting anf fishing licenses, and stakeholders are currently discussing how to implement the plan, I will wait for those recommendations (fall 2019) and consider incorporating them into this bill in 2020.
AB 1710-Cannabis. This bill would authorize the Elk Valley Rancheria and the County of Del Norte to enter into an agreement that would establish local authorization for cannabis related activity on the Elk Valley Rancheria. Additionally, the bill would require the licensee to comply with all the requirements of the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). This is a two-year bill and cannot be taken up until January 2020.
In addition to my bills, here is a list of bills that I have joined as a co-author:
AB 37-Authored by Asm. Jones-Sawyer. This bill, for each taxable year beginning on and after January 1, 2019, would specifically provide for licensed commercial cannabis activity, for purposes of state income tax, allowing deduction of business expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on that commercial cannabis activity. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 10; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.
AB 420-Authored by Asms. Lackey and Cooley. This bill would commission objective scientific research by the University of California (UC) regarding the efficacy and safety of administering cannabis, its naturally occurring constituents, and synthetic compounds, as part of medical treatment. If the Regents of UC, by resolution, accept this responsibility, UC will create a program, the California Cannabis Research Program, hosted by the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. The program would develop and conduct studies intended to ascertain the general medical safety and efficacy of cannabis and, if found valuable, shall develop medical guidelines for the appropriate administration and use of cannabis. The studies may examine the effect of cannabis on motor skills, the health and safety effects of cannabis, cannabinoids, and other related constituents, and other behavioral and health outcomes. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 10; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.
AB 715-Authored by Asm. Arambula. This bill will expand Medi-Cal coverage to 20,000 seniors and disabled persons by increasing the qualifying income level of between 123 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 13; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.
AB 998-Authored by Asm. Aguiar-Curry, this bill would allow State Route 128 to be designated as a route in the state scenic highway system. This bill was signed by the Governor July 12 and becomes effective January 1, 2020.
AB 1494-Authored by Asm. Aguiar-Curry. In the Medi-Cal program, for purposes of payment for covered treatment or services provided through telehealth, prohibits the department from limiting the type of setting where services are provided for the patient or by the health care provider. This bill would provide, when federal financial participation is available, that neither face-to-face contact nor a patient’s physical presence on the premises of an enrolled community clinic, is required for services provided by the clinic to a Medi-Cal beneficiary during or immediately following a state of emergency. The bill would require that telehealth services, telephonic services, and other specified services be reimbursable when provided by one of those entities during or immediately following a declared state of emergency. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 12; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.
SB 34-Authored by Senator Wiener. This bill will exempt compassionate care programs from paying state commercial cannabis taxes when they are providing free medical cannabis to financially disadvantaged people living with serious health conditions. Due to an oversight in how Prop 64 was drafted, these not-for-profit donation programs that have been serving medical cannabis patients for decades are now being forced to pay taxes meant for businesses, which are forcing these charity programs to shut down. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 13; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.
SB 38-Authored by Senator Hill, et al. This bill would prohibit a tobacco retailer from selling, offering for sale, or possessing with the intent to sell, a flavored tobacco product. Due to significant opposition, the author decided to withdraw the bill. Due to recent deaths and respiratory illnesses being reported, the Assembly and Senate will hold hearings in the fall to determine possible solutions.
SB 39-Authored by Senator Hill, et al. Existing law, the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act, prohibits the sale, distribution, or nonsale distribution of tobacco products directly or indirectly to any person under 21 years of age through the United States Postal Service or through any other public or private postal or package delivery service and requires a person selling or distributing tobacco products directly to a consumer by those same delivery services to comply with specified age-verification policies and additionally require sellers, distributors, and nonsale distributors to deliver tobacco products only in conspicuously marked containers and to obtain the signature of a person 21 years of age or older before delivering a tobacco product. This bill was signed by the Governor September 16 and becomes effective January 1, 2020.
SB 67-Authored by Senator McGuire. Many in the cannabis industry have complied with new rules and requirements and have applied for permanent licensure. Some with temporary licenses are still waiting for their permanent license, but due to the resource limitations of local and state resources, they have not received their permanent license and their temporary licenses will soon expire. This bill will provide an extension of the temporary licenses for those who have submitted their annual license applications on time and will allow the various state agencies to process the backlog of applications for a permanent license that have been submitted. This is a two-year bill and cannot be taken up until January 2020.
SB 347-This bill would establish the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, which would prohibit a person from distributing, selling, or offering for sale a sugar-sweetened beverage in a sealed beverage container, a multipack of sugar-sweetened beverages, or a concentrate, in this state unless the sealed beverage container, a multipack or packaging of the concentrate bears a safety warning. The bill also would require every person who owns, leases, or otherwise legally controls the premises where a vending machine or beverage dispensing machine is located, or where a sugar-sweetened beverage is sold in an unsealed container, to place a specified safety warning in certain locations, including on the exterior of any vending machine that includes a sugar-sweetened beverage for sale. The author pulled the bill due to strong opposition.
SB 670-This bill would require a provider of telecommunications services that provides access to 911 service to provide responder outage notification by electronic mail to the Office of Emergency Services (OES) whenever an outage occurs limiting the provider’s customers’ ability to make 911 calls or receive emergency notifications, within 60 minutes of discovering the outage. The bill would make OES responsible for notifying any applicable county office of emergency services and the sheriff of any county affected by the outage. This bill was signed by the Governor on October 2.
SB 674-The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 provides for the negotiation and execution of tribal-state gaming compacts for the purpose of authorizing certain types of gaming on Indian lands within a state. The California Constitution authorizes the Governor to negotiate and conclude tribal-state gaming compacts, subject to ratification by the Legislature. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires projects complete an environmental impact report on a project that may have a significant effect on the environment. This bill would ratify the tribal-state gaming compact entered into between the State of California and the Hoopa Valley Tribe, executed on October 19, 2018 and provides that, in deference to tribal sovereignty, certain actions related to this compact are not projects for purposes of CEQA. This bill was sent to the Governor on September 5; he has until October 13 to sign or veto.