New California law expands screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences

October 19, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 

California recently enacted SB 428 (Hurtado), the ACEs Equity Act, to significantly expand health insurance coverage for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) screening.

The California Medical Association (CMA) co-sponsored the bill with Children Now, and it applies to all health care service plan contracts, including Medi-Cal managed care plan contracts, and health insurance policies issued, amended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, that provide coverage for pediatric services and preventive care.

ACEs are traumatic childhood experiences that can impact people of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and the latest research indicates that two-thirds of American adults have been exposed to at least one ACE.

ACEs, and the resulting toxic stress response that may occur, are a root cause to some of the most common, serious and costly health challenges – including nine out of the 10 leading causes of death nationwide.

A recent estimate shows ACEs costing California over $112 billion annually, or $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

“There couldn’t be a more important time to enact this legislation,” said California Surgeon General, Nadine Burke Harris, M.D. “While the COVID-19 pandemic itself is not one of the traditional ACE criteria, it has been unique in creating the two main ingredients for development of the toxic stress response by one, acting as a major stressor while two, simultaneously cutting off access to many of the usual sources of buffering care necessary to help children, youth and adults regulate their stress responses.”

The legislation builds on the work of the ACEs Aware initiative, which offers Medi-Cal providers training, screening tools, clinical protocols, and payment for screening children and adults for ACEs.

Since January 2020, Medi-Cal providers have screened more than half a million patients.

Receive ACEs Aware Training Today (Free!)

CMA is a proud ACEs Aware grantee and encourages all physicians, particularly Medi-Cal providers, to receive the free, two-hour training to learn how screening, risk assessment and evidence-based care can effectively intervene on toxic stress. 

By screening for ACEs, providers can better determine the likelihood a patient is at increased health risk due to a toxic stress response, a critical step in responding with trauma-informed care that connects patients with a supportive network of care to mitigate the impact of ACEs.

Physicians may receive 2.0 Continuing Medical Education (CME) and 2.0 Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits upon completion - and can receive reimbursement for providing ACEs screening to Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

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