The California Medical Association (CMA) is pursuing an aggressive package of public health bills in 2012 that puts the focus on issues like vaccination and childhood obesity. Friday, June 1, marked the deadline for the first round of policy committees this year. This is how CMA’s sponsored bills stand:
- Childhood Vaccinations: AB 2109 would require a parent or guardian seeking a personal belief exemption from childhood vaccination to first meet with a physician or other licensed health care professional, who would then sign a form attesting that they had discussed the risks and benefits of vaccinations with the parent. The goal of the bill is to ensure that parents make informed decisions about getting their children immunized before they enter school. The bill passed out of the committee and then off of the Assembly floor, and will be heard in the Senate Health Committee in coming weeks.
- Assignment of Benefits: AB 1742 would require PPOs to permit assignment of a patient’s right to reimbursement for covered services to the provider furnishing those services. The bill garnered nine votes, one shy of successful passage. CMA continues to work with the committee in hopes of moving the bill at another time.
- Influenza Vaccines for Health Care Workers: SB 1318 would require health care workers to get regular flu vaccines or wear a mask. Up against strong opposition from the California Nurses Association and a double referral to the Senate Labor Committee at the last minute, the bill passed off of the Senate floor and is now set to move to the Assembly.
- Vaccine Reimbursement: AB 2064 would require a insurers that cover childhood immunizations to reimburse physicians in an amount not less than the actual cost of acquiring and administering the vaccine. It would also prohibit the imposition of deductibles, coinsurance or other cost-sharing mechanisms on patients. This bill passed in the Assembly Health Committee on April 24 and was held on suspense in Assembly Appropriations.
- Sports Drinks in Schools: AB 1746 would prohibit the sale of sports drinks to middle and high school students during school hours. The bill was held on suspense and will not move forward because of concern about school revenue loss.
- Physician Workforce: Recognizing that there is a need for more physicians in California, the Legislature has kept two CMA-sponsored bills from last year moving through the political process. AB 589 continues to be held in Senate Appropriations. It would establish, within the Health Professions Education Foundation, the Steven M. Thompson Medical School Scholarship Program, which mirrors a previously sponsored CMA bill for medical loan repayment that was signed into law in 2002. The program would provide up to $105,000 in scholarships to selected participants who agree in writing prior to completing an accredited medical or osteopathic school to serve a minimum of three years in "medically underserved areas." This bill should pass out of committee by August 2012.
SB 1416 would lay the groundwork to create the Graduate Medical Education Trust Fund, to be administered by the state, for the purposes of administering grants to expand California’s residency programs. Funding for this bill is dependent upon private donations. This bill is now in the Assembly Rules Committee, having passed off the Senate floor.
For more information on these or other bills of interest to physicians, see CMA's issues database at www.cmanet.org/issues.