Key bills supporting both physicians and patients advance through Legislature

May 29, 2024

Earlier this month, the deadline for the Senate and Assembly to pass bills out of their first house passed, representing one of the most significant hurdles of the 2024 legislative session.

Each of the California Medical Association’s (CMA) priority bills for 2024 have advanced and will continue to make their way through the Legislature.

Below are summaries of CMA’s priority bills.

SB 1120 (Becker): The Physicians Make Decisions Act

SB 1120 requires that physicians be the ones to make final decisions on what kind of treatments patients should receive, rather than artificial intelligence (AI). The “Physicians Make Decisions Act” acknowledges that algorithms cannot replicate the nuanced decision-making process of a physician, ensuring that patients receive fair and appropriate coverage decisions. By reintroducing human oversight, SB 1120 would uphold the integrity of the health care system and prioritize patients' well-being above all else.

AB 2164 (Berman): Mental Health Questionnaire

The Medical Board of California licensure application for physicians and surgeons, including postgraduate training licensees, may inadvertently discourage physicians from seeking mental health services. This application process perpetuates stigma around mental health and may inadvertently discourage physicians from seeking mental health services and exacerbate issues of burnout and depression within the medical community. AB 2164 would remove this barrier by eliminating the obligation for physicians to disclose personal medical information that does not impact their ability to practice medicine  

SB 963 (Ashby): Human Trafficking ID Program

SB 963 requires the implementation of human trafficking and domestic violence programs allowing self-identification in emergency departments. The bill would require the system to meet certain minimum requirements, including, providing patient confidentiality, facilitating immediate interviews with medical personnel, and providing referrals to human trafficking and domestic violence services.

SB 516 (Skinner): Prior Authorization

SB 516 reforms the prior authorization process to address the administrative burden and delay of care caused by the current prior authorization process. The bill removes unnecessary prior authorizations; streamlines and modernizes the process for submitting and appealing a prior authorization request; provides transparency and data on health plan actions; and requires a physician of the same or similar specialty to conduct appeals of a prior authorization denial.

AB 977 (Rodriguez): Violence Against Health Care Workers

AB 977 provides parity for penalties of violence committed against all health care workers who provide services within emergency departments. Under current law, violence against health care workers inside an emergency department is penalized differently depending on the category of health care worker and location of the attack. Health care workers should be provided the same protections, whether they are inside a hospital emergency department or elsewhere.


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