California Lawmakers Take Action on Several Health-Related Bills

On Thursday, California lawmakers advanced measures related to childhood vaccine requirements, the state’s prescription drug database and physician-assisted suicide. However, legislators also shelved several health-related measures.

The decisions come ahead of a June 5 deadline for bills to be approved by at least one body of the state Legislature.

Childhood Vaccine Bill

A bill (SB 277) that would end personal belief exemptions to the state’s childhood vaccination requirements has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Health.

If the committee approves the bill, it would head next to an Assembly floor vote — the last stop before being sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) (White [1], “Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

The bill has been amended to:

  • Allow unvaccinated children to enroll in private home-schooling programs that serve multiple families, rather than programs that serve just one family;
  • Permit such children to participate in independent study projects that are overseen by school districts but do not include classroom time; and
  • Remove a provision that would have required schools to inform parents of immunization rates (California Healthline, 5/28).

Democrats on the Assembly Rules Committee sent the bill to the Health Committee this week despite objections from Republicans.

Assembly member Ling-Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) said Republicans opposed sending the measure straight to the Health Committee because it should undergo additional vetting. “This is not about whether you support or oppose mandatory vaccinations … it’s about the integrity of the Assembly and ensuring bills are considered appropriately,” she said (White [1], “Capitol Alert,”Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

Rx Drug Database Bill

Meanwhile, the state Senate passed a measure (SB 482) that would require California doctors to check the state’s Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES, before prescribing narcotics (AP/Miami Herald, 5/28).

The prescription drug monitoring database was established in 2009 to help physicians and law enforcement officers identify patterns of over-prescribing by doctors or prescription drug-shopping by patients. In addition, the database allows providers to make better-informed decisions by accessing a patient’s prescription drug history.

The database includes information on all controlled substances prescribed in the state and houses more than 100 million entries, according to the CURES website (Infantino, California Healthline, 3/5).

The bill now heads to the Assembly (AP/Miami Herald, 5/28).

Right-to-Die Bill

The state Senate also revived a bill (SB 128) that would allow some dying patients to end their lives through lethal doses of medication.

The move came after the California Medical Association last week dropped its opposition to the legislation (Bernstein, Reuters, 5/29).

The bill would require that:

  • Medication is self-administered;
  • The patient is mentally competent; and
  • Two physicians confirm the prognosis that the patient has six months or less to live (California Healthline, 4/8).

The measure now is headed for a full Senate vote.

Action on Other Measures

Meanwhile, the state Senate Committee on Appropriations has advanced a bill (SB 4) that would provide medical benefits to many undocumented immigrants in California (Reuters, 5/29).

For more information on the immigrant health care bill, see today’s “Capitol Desk” post.

Several other measures were shelved by the state Legislature, including:

  • AB 11, which would have revised the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 to include home health care workers, giving them a minimum of three days of paid sick leave annually if they work 30 or more calendar days in a year; and
  • AB 34, which would have given the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control regulatory authority over medical marijuana dispensaries and the state Department of Food and Agriculture regulatory control over growers (White [2], “Capitol Alert,” Sacramento Bee, 5/28).

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