Expanded Medi-Cal coverage, statewide HIE framework: Newsom signs omnibus health bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 133 on Tuesday, an omnibus health trailer bill sponsored by Asm. Joaquin Arambula that dedicates ample funding to health care reform. Among the bill’s provisions are expanding Medi-Cal coverage, support for youth behavioral health, and framework for a statewide health information exchange (HIE).

 

 

Newsom lauded the first-of-their-kind Medi-Cal expansions during his remarks at the Fresno health clinic where he signed the legislation.

“We’re investing California’s historic surplus to accomplish transformative changes we’ve long dreamed of – including this historic Medi-Cal expansion to ensure thousands of older undocumented Californians, many of whom have been serving on the front lines of the pandemic, can access critical health care services. I thank the Legislature for its steadfast partnership to bring California closer to universal health care coverage and advance comprehensive initiatives to ensure California’s communities come back from the pandemic stronger and healthier than before.”

The bill solidifies Medi-Cal expansions agreed upon last month by Newsom and legislative Democrats, which grant coverage to undocumented individuals over 50 and eliminate the Medi-Cal asset test. It also extends coverage for postpartum women from two to 12 months — something advocates say is necessary to reduce the state’s maternal mortality rates.

AB 133 ensures the allocation of $4 billion to establish a behavioral health system for California youth, through which Californians under 25 will be eligible for regular behavioral health screenings. This also creates a statewide portal to connect youths with telehealth behavioral health visits.

The bill establishes the Behavioral Health Infrastructure Program within the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to provide in-need Californians with behavioral health treatment and housing, including homeless Californians. This includes over $2 billion in grants for local governments to acquire real estate assets to advance the program’s goal and to implement mobile crisis infrastructure.

AB 133 mandates the creation of the California Health and Human Services Data Exchange Framework, the first statewide HIE in California. Supporters of the initiative say a single health data sharing system will streamline patient care and reduce health inequities.