Newsom signs bills concerning physician licenses in sexual assault cases and insurance coverage of COVID-19 therapeutics

Among the health legislation Gov. Newsom signed into law at the close of the 2021-2022 legislative session were 2 bills regarding physician licenses in sexual assault cases and health plan coverage of COVID-19 treatments.

 

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Assembly Bill 1636, sponsored by Asm. Akilah Weber (D – San Diego), will authorize the denial of a physician or surgeon’s application for licensure in the event that the applicant was subject to formal discipline for sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, relations with a patient, or sexual exploitation up to 7 years preceding the date of application. 

The bill will also allow for the automatic revocation of a physician or surgeon license for any of the above reasons, as well as prevent the reinstatement of the certificate of a physician or surgeon that has been required to register as a sex offender.

“AB 1636 will preserve confidence in the medical profession by ensuring physicians convicted of sexual misconduct would automatically have their license revoked and cannot acquire or have it reinstated,” Weber stated. “The heinous behavior of abusing patients goes against everything physicians stand for and should not be tolerated. This legislation is essential to protect patients and the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship.”

California Medical Association (CMA) President Robert E. Wailes, MD, also emphasized the importance of the bill in protecting patients.

“Nothing is more fundamental to the California Medical Association and the integrity of the medical profession than protecting patients and the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship,” Wailes said upon the bill’s signing. “We thank the Governor for signing AB 1636 to ensure the Medical Board of California has the tools they need to protect patients and keep any physician who violates a patient’s trust from practicing medicine.”

The Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws, in opposition, argues that the bill perpetuates “the myth that everyone convicted of a sex offense poses a current danger to society regardless of how long ago the offense took place.” 

Newsom signed AB 1636 on Sept. 22nd.

Senate Bill 1473, sponsored by Sen. Richard Pan (D – Sacramento), will require health plans and insurers to cover therapeutics to treat COVID-19 approved or granted emergency use authorization by the FDA when prescribed by a licensed health care provider. The bill requires coverage without cost-sharing, utilization management, or in-network requirements.

Supporters of the bill argue that a major barrier Californians experience in accessing effective COVID-19 treatments is finding an in-network provider who can prescribe the medication, and a pharmacy that will fill the prescription.

“This bill will help ensure that people diagnosed with COVID-19 can be expeditiously connected with therapeutic treatment to decrease related morbidity and mortality,” CMA stated in support of the bill.

Newsom signed SB 1473 on Sept. 25th.