Health and Human Services Bill Roundup
September 3, 2020
CSAC’s Health and Human Services policy committee tracked a number of bills this legislative cycle. All of the following bills passed both houses and are awaiting action from the Governor.
AB 1976 (Eggman): Mental Health Services: Assisted Outpatient Treatment.
This measure would require all counties to offer assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) programs– commonly known as Laura’s Law. This measure would require county Boards to opt-out of offering AOT services through a resolution, unnecessarily complicating the local decision process to implement Laura’s Law and increasing staff workload. CSAC opposed the language forcing counties to opt-out instead of opting in and asked for the petitioner expansion to be eliminated, but did support the provision repealing the sunset. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor and CSAC will send a veto request.
SB 115: (Budget Bill Jr.)
This budget legislation includes important budget bill language (BBL) that CSAC supports related to the Realignment backfill. The Department of Finance worked closely with CSAC to draft this language in accordance with an agreement we reached in July. The BBL requires the remainder of the Realignment backfill amount to be distributed to counties within 15 days of the legislation being chaptered so that counties can preserve the safety net. The language also defines the existing requirement for compliance with COVID-19 public health orders and maintains a mechanism for the Administration to withhold funding if a county is out of compliance. Full details are available in this recent summary of the Realignment backfill BBL.
AB 890 (Wood): Nurse Practitioners: scope of practice; practice without standardized procedures.
This measure would require the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) to establish a Nurse Practitioner Advisory Committee to advise and make recommendations to the board on the development of an examination that tests nurse practitioners (NPs) for independent practice. The bill would authorize a NP to provide care without a physician’s supervision on specified services. CSAC supports AB 890, and it passed the Legislature after much debate. The bill is awaiting action from the Governor.
AB 2112 (Ramos): Suicide Prevention.
This measure would establish the Office of Suicide Prevention within the California Department of Public Health. The duties of the office will provide best practices on suicide prevention, conduct statewide assessments of suicide prevention polices, and report on suicide reduction rates. The bill expands on the coordination and integration of suicide prevention with existing efforts to utilize data to target high-risk populations, such as, youth, Native American youth, older adults, veterans, and LGBTQ people. The bill passed and is awaiting action from the Governor.
AB 1979 (Friedman): Foster Youth: housing.
If signed, AB 1979 would promote placement stability for young adults and improve housing services and supports to address the issue of homelessness and housing insecurity among non-minor dependents in extended foster care. Specifically, this bill would expand the definition of a supervised independent setting to include transitional living placements, support county placement agencies in their evaluation of housing needs and resources for non-minor dependents reentering extended foster care, and restructure the transitional housing placement payment approval process. AB 1979 was sponsored by the County Welfare Directors Association of California. The bill passed both houses and is awaiting action from the Governor.
SB 803 (Beall): Mental Health Services: peer support specialist certification.
This measure would establish a statewide behavioral health peer support specialist certification program. Specifically, the bill requires the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) by July 1, 2022, to establish the requirements for the statewide peer support requirements. DHCS will need to seek federal waivers that will allow the state to receive federal funding for peer support services in counties that opt-in and agree to provide the non-federal share. CSAC views SB 803 as a vehicle to help improve and expand California’s behavioral health care workforce, provide new federal Medicaid funding, and improve the treatment and care for people eligible for mental health and substance use disorder services. The bill passed both houses and is awaiting action from the Governor.
SB 855 (Wiener): Health Coverage: mental health or substance use disorders.
This measure would require health care plans to provide coverage for the diagnosis and medically necessary treatment of mental health and substance use disorders; prohibit a health care service plan or health insurer from limiting benefits or coverage for chronic or pervasive mental health and substance use disorders to short-term or acute treatment; specify that treatment include outpatient services, inpatient services, intermediate services, and prescription drugs in specified circumstances; and authorize civil action against a health care service plan or health insurer for violation of the law. The bill looks to close the ambiguity that existed in California’s Mental Health Parity Act. CSAC supported this measure throughout its legislative journey. The bill passed both houses and is awaiting action from the Governor.
AB 1544 (Gipson): Community Paramedicine or Triage to Alternate Destination Act.
This measure would authorize a local EMS agency to develop a community paramedicine or triage to alternate destination program to provide community paramedicine services with a sunset of January 1, 2024.CSAC, in partnership with the Urban Counties of California, Rural County Representatives of California, and the County Health Executives Association of California, worked with the bill’s sponsor and author to negotiate amendments to ensure this measure does not infringe on the existing authority of local emergency management service agencies. With these safeguards, CSAC was able to adopt a neutral position. The bill passed both houses and is awaiting action from the Governor.