Dr. Wood’s Healthcare Access Bills Move On

For immediate release:

Sacramento – Assemblyman Wood’s package of healthcare bills moves on to the Senate today following votes by the State Assembly.

“As a healthcare provider myself I am acutely aware of the access to healthcare challenges we face in rural areas and I am committed to making a change” Wood said. “Legacy issues like access to healthcare take time to make right.  There simply is no magic bullet or home run to be had; they require persistence and a whole bunch of base-hits.”

AB 858 is the result of several combined bills that increase access to mental and behavioral health services in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) and Rural Health Clinics (RHC) for low income patients.  With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the inclusion of mental health services as an essential health benefit, the need for mental health providers has increased.  AB 858 adds marriage and family therapists to the list of providers that clinics may use to provide these services.  Additionally, AB 858 removes an artificial barrier to care by allowing clinics to bill for a medical and mental health service on the same day, which will encourage integration of care and eliminate the logistical obstacle many patients face by having to schedule needed visits on different days.  AB 858 cleared the Assembly with a vote of (67-0).

AB 1231 provides transportation for patients who live an hour or more from their nearest specialty care physician. In rural areas, primary doctors and specialists who accept Medi-Cal patients are few and far between, as a result patients often drive several hours each way to receive care.  AB 1231 attempts to mitigate the financial costs of receiving medical attention for rural Californians.  The measure passed the Assembly by a (69-0) vote.

Both AB 858 and AB 1231 will be heard next in Senate Rules Committee.