On October 10, the California Legislature completed the first year of its two-year cycle for legislative action, with Gov. Newsom signing 770 bills into law and vetoing 66. Of those bills, the majority go into effect on January 1, 2022. Below is a list of some of the bills signed into law in the healthcare space.
COVID-19 Testing (SB 510, Pan): This bill requires health insurers to cover the cost of coronavirus tests, ensuring California patients do not have to pay out-of-pocket fees or contend with prior authorization requirements. This bill protects patients from surprise medical bills and alleviates bureaucratic obstacles for both physicians and patients.
Telehealth (AB 457, Santiago): This bill ensures patients can access telehealth services from their selected healthcare provider, or other networked provider of their choosing, rather than having a health plan direct them to a third-party telehealth entity. If a patient does choose to be treated by a third-party corporate telehealth provider, this bill requires the provider to forward patient records from the visit to the patient’s primary care physician or a physician of the patient's choosing.
Pharmacist Authorization to Initiate and Administer Certain Vaccines (AB 1064, Fong): Authorizes a pharmacist to independently initiate and administer any vaccine that has been approved or authorized by the FDA and received a federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices individual vaccine recommendation published by the CDC for persons three years of age and older.
Pharmacists Authorization to Perform Certain CLIA Waived Tests (SB 409, Caballero): Authorizes pharmacists and pharmacies to perform, in accordance with specified requirements and conditions, any aspect of an FDA-approved or authorized test that is classified as waived under Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) if the test is used to detect or screen for the below illnesses, conditions, or diseases:
SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory illness, condition or disease;
Sexually transmitted infection;
Urinary tract infection;
Liver and kidney function or infection;
Substance use disorder;
Other conditions as specified by regulation.
New Psychiatric Unit/Facility Emergency Service Requirements (AB 451, Arambula): Psychiatric facilities that are county-owned and operated and those with 16 or fewer beds are exempt from the new law, which will require psychiatric hospital units, psychiatric health facilities, and acute psychiatric hospitals (regardless of whether the facility operates an emergency department) to accept the transfer of a person with an emergency psychiatric medical condition from a licensed healthcare facility with an emergency department and provide emergency services to that person if all of the following requirements are met:
The treating physician at the sending facility has determined that the patient is medically stable and appropriate for treatment in a psychiatric setting and has included that determination in the patient’s medical record;
The facility has an available bed; and
The facility has appropriate facilities and qualified personnel available to provide the services or care.
New Limitations on Hospice Referrals (AB 1280, Irwin): The new law prohibits hospice providers (and their employees and agents) from paying referral sources for the referral of patients. It will also prohibit hospice salespeople, recruiters, agents, and employees who receive compensation or other remuneration for hospice referrals or admissions from consulting with a patient/patient’s representative or a patient’s family regarding hospice services, hospice election, or informed consent to a patient, patient’s family, or patient’s representative. Instead, specified persons including a registered nurse or medical social worker must complete the election of hospice, obtain informed consent, complete signatures, and counsel on the election of hospice with a patient, patient’s family, or patient’s representative. Finally, hospices will be required to provide verbal and written notice of the patient’s rights and responsibilities to the patient or the patient’s representative in a language and manner the person understands before providing care.
Moratorium on New Hospice Licenses (SB 664, Allen): New law temporarily halts the issuance of new hospice licenses. The California Department of Public Health will be prohibited from issuing new hospice licenses on and after January 1, 2022, and until 365 days from the date that the California State Auditor publishes a report on hospice licensure. CDPH may grant an exception to the moratorium imposed by this article upon making a written finding that an applicant for a new license has shown a demonstrable need for hospice services in the area where the applicant proposes to operate based on the concentration of all existing hospice services in that area. CDPH would not be prohibited from renewing existing licenses.
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government & External Affairs Specialist. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to GVillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.