October 12, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy
The 2021 legislative bill signings concluded last week with six California Medical Association (CMA)-sponsored bills and nine priority-support bills being signed into law.
In addition to helping our state navigate COVID-19 vaccine distribution, CMA scored a number of key public policy victories to protect public health, expand health equity and ensure patients can continue to have access to care from a physician, even when they can’t make in-person office visits.
Among the key CMA-supported bills signed into law were:
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.
Vaping Tax (SB 395, Caballero): This bill increases the tax on e-cigarette and vaping products to more closely mirror the taxes on other tobacco products. The bill also ensures future funding for physician workforce programs, such as the physician loan repayment program, which creates incentives for new physicians to treat more low-income patients and provide care to underserved communities.
Telehealth (AB 457, Santiago): This bill ensures patients can access telehealth services from their selected health care provider, or other networked provider of their choosing, rather than having a health plan direct them to a third-party corporate telehealth provider. 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.
The signing of these key bills marks the conclusion of a highly successful legislative session for CMA. We are already starting on our list of legislative priorities for the year ahead, and look forward to continuing our fight for California physicians and patients.